What will you do when you grow up? Our whole lives we’ve been asked this one question. How do we find the answer?
As kids, the answer was easy. A football player. A fire fighter. A ballerina, doctor, politician, lawyer, or President of the USA.
We all had our answer concerning some far off world — where all our dreams and talents converged into the rest of our amazing adult lives.
When I was a kid and my Aunt asked me about Future Adult Paul, I confidently told her I was going to play professional baseball for the Colorado Rockies. But I was a bit of a realist even then, so I had a Plan B. If baseball didn’t work out, I told her I planned on winning the lottery. She laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
What was so funny?
As We Grow Up
College comes and goes and we begin to realize. We start figuring the odds. We see how many people want the same dream. How many people can dance more gracefully, swing the bat better, solve the problem quicker. Our childhood dreams become just that — dreams, no longer able to breathe in this stuffy adult world.To settle or not to settle becoming the crux question of our twenties.
“So what do you do?” It’s our conversation starter. Our flint. We hope it sparks a picture of this person. What job is you? A tough answer when your job, or lack of job, is anything but.
We are a culture of doers. Of accomplishers — of titles — of my car is faster than yours. My Facebook profile shines and sparkles with more gold medals and blue ribbons — and you should go ahead and commence feeling jealous.
However is what do you do even the right question? Is our calling on this earth just about what we do? Or is it more?
“Maybe instead of asking what will you do, we should be asking what are we going to be when we grow up? Not what are we going to do, what profession are we going to follow or keep on following, what niche are we going to occupy in the order of things. But are we going to be – inside ourselves and among ourselves?” Fredrick Buechner
We are obsessed with doing. What about our being? Apart from any label, any name tag you might slap across your chest. As we grow up we will wear many suits, some will fit better than others. But when we’re doing nothing worth bragging about, who will we be? Maybe that should be the question.
Anyone else have a disparity between what you thought you’d be doing and what you are? Thoughts?
No one thinks, “I’m going to be married…and divorced…all in my 20′s”. But it’s happening and we need to talk about it. This is such a needed guest-post — full of honesty, heart and hope. Please pass this article on to others going through a similar situation. Thank you Fabulous and Flawed for sharing with us your story.
How does it feel to be twenty-something and divorced?
If you would have asked me that when I married in early 2005, I would have told you to ask someone else. I knew in the deepest part of my being that I would never know this feeling. That may seem like the cheesiest way to put it, but if you search this entire website, you will find a common theme: Life has twists and turns that we can never anticipate. Most of us “emerging adults” can agree and I am no exception.
I turned 29 this year and my twenty something emergent adult self is rounding the corner to the “you are almost thirty and your life still has not turned out the way you planned” phase. The biggest surprise for me was in 2010 when my marriage fell apart. And, I am sad to say that I am not alone.
THE DREAM LED HERE?
I was the first of my friends to get married. I could not wait for the days of reunions, family BBQs, and children’s birthday parties. I was just waiting on my friends to catch up with me. The irony in all of this is that my separation came only days after attending a wedding for one of my best friends and only months before the other one got engaged. My friends were finally getting married and I was rounding the corner to divorce. I did not know anyone in my same situation. Sure, I had a handful of friends who had parents that had been married once before like a lifetime ago….but that was not the same thing. Or was it? This question cut so deeply and frankly still does.
Could this have been a starter marriage? Will I have a family one day and this marriage will be nothing but a memory? I had intended for my marriage to last a lifetime. The thought of it being reduced down to a lifetime ago, feels similar to choking on your own heart.
As a child, I had one dream and that was to be the best wife and mother I could be. I would find a quiet man who was trustworthy and faithful and we would love and laugh until our lives ended. Never did I imagine that I would find out my husband was having a three year affair. Never did I imagine that I would encounter such heartache. Heartache that broke me, my marriage, and my faith down to the deepest, rawest, and most lifeless parts of their existence. The cut was deep and wide, the wound was raw, and the pain was deadening.
I have a lot to say about this subject. You can look forward to hearing my take on the process of divorce, recovery, and life again thereafter. Trust people when they say divorce is a process. I am no attorney, so I do not mean the legal process. I am talking about the forgiveness, healing, and moving on process (es). Also, does the grocery store really need two sections of frozen food….family or single? Really, like we needed another reminder.
But do remember this; if you find yourself faced with divorce in your 20’s, you are not alone. That might not be reassuring now, but neither is my next point….you will recover. If you have not already, watch the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. There is a line in the movie when Diane Lane’s character says the worst part about divorce is that the pain does not actually kill you. Just as getting married, finding a job, having children, and/or buying a house in your twenties should not define you, neither should being divorced.
Let’s loosen up those ties and take our hair out of the bun because it’s Friday – so cups full of awesome, sugar, and magic dandelion dust to everyone. Yes run free my children. Run as fast as you can. Away from the trappings of work and into those sweet moments of bliss, freedom, and all around merriment. And as you go forth this weekend — skipping to your hearts content, I give you the best from the World of Web this week for Groan Ups.
WEDDING CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN ADVENTURE
Nothing says being All Groan Up and single than being All Groan Up, single, and attending yet another wedding full of awkward encounters and side-way glances of “I wonder if she’ll ever get married??” So brought to your from Joy Eggerich @joyeggerichs and the Love and Respect NOW team, here is the Choose-Your-Own Wedding Adventure .
Wait, sorry. That’s more like Twenty-Freaking-Nine?! Srrrriously?
Nothing will remind you of what was, what is, and what you hope to be, more than your birthday.
Follow that up with your first Father’s Day the very next day like I did, and you’ve got yourself one giant ball of reflection fit for it’s own memoir.
When well-wishers have asked me how old I am, I’ve had to pause more then once to try and remember. “Umm…27…no…wait…umm…twentyyyy….dang…umm…” Whether it was just sheer disbelief or the sheer inability to do mental math under pressure like a 5th grader competing in the Tri-County Math Bowl, 29 just didn’t seem to be the right answer.
The evolution of your birthday is one of the starkest definitions of what it means to be an emerging adult. Growing up, your birthday is THE DAY that could only be remotely rivaled by Christmas. But Christmas you have to share with your family and some baby in the manger, whom you have to pay dues in an extra, agonizingly long and incredibly boring, midweek church service. So it’s not much debate that YOUR DAY literally blows the other 364 away. Even baby Jesus can’t compete.
Growing up, your birthday is not a secret. No, it’s what you invite every single person within a fifty-mile radius to come celebrate. You’d make a radio ad and scatter fliers all over the six elementary schools in your town, if your live-in grown ups would’ve let you.
And all the way until 21, your birthday means you’ve accomplished something and now more of the kingdom awaits you. But after alcohol is now being freely offered – your corresponding birthday’s are met with the same ambiguity as your job search and relationship status. What is 23? Or 28? Each year says you’re older, but no longer is that really an accomplishment. No, slowly it starts becoming quite the opposite. As if you’re somehow doing something wrong by traipsing across the calendar in such a rapid fashion.
Birthday’s in your mid-20’s are like that stretch of road trip where you’re no longer home, but not yet where you want to be.
It’s that flat, long stretch of no man’s land where stops to see the World’s Largest Prairie Dog and Five-legged Cow seem like the best options you’ve got.
THE SWEET SOUND OF GROWING UP
But as I turned 28 and found myself laughing hysterically watching 20somethings play pin-the-tail on the donkey — our newborn baby fast asleep even amongst the squeals of pin-the-tail-delight, I began finding myself peacefully at home at 28.
Because as you get older you realize that your birthday is really not that important. Your age is just a number, nothing more. Your birthday is not formulaic algebra — no it’s abstract math, and it’s up to you to find that right solution.
So here’s the birthday equation I’m working on:
29 + Me = Each day becoming more the husband, father, and man I was made to be.
Now that’s math that I can do.
What do you feel about your 20something birthday evolution? Do you have a new equation you’re working on? Let’s hear your thoughts via comments below.
Is it wrong that some of us still cringe at the thought of being called the “A” word? Oh no you didn’t just call me an Adult.
I’m 27, married, with a new baby girl. And yet, I still feel like I’m growing up. I know I’m dangerously straddling some unspoken, cultural fence here. That before too long I’ll be the guy “real grown-ups” talk about in hushed, official sounding tones while lying in their mahogany, king size beds.
“I can’t believe Paul. Someone needs to tell him it’s time to grow up.”
“Yes, when is he going to act his age?”
“Exactly. Now please turn on C-SPAN and pour me a glass of port.”
ACT YOUR AGE
Now if I was 95 years old and failed to act accordingly, I would be an article in the local newspaper and neighbors would be asking me, How do you do it? with pen and paper poised to take notes.
Instead, concerned family friends are calling my parents and asking them – in relation to rearing a 27 year old child, how do you do it? (C’mon. Leave my parents out of this).
But I’ll ask the same question; how do we do it? How do we act our age? It’s a number, right? There are reasons why math and drama classes don’t join forces. We’re not asked to act the hypotenuse, so why are we asked to act our age?
If someone has the age dictionary that defines the parameters for 23, or 26, or 29 I’m all hairy, grown-up ears…
GROWING OR GROWN?
Is my longing to stay growing instead of grown, right? Is it smart to dig my feet in, refusing to cross the grown up line like a mule across a stream? Or am I just being that – a stubborn ass?
Well let me call in some other opinions, those smarter than I.
“With age come the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever young, to dwell always in externals?” Elizabeth Stanton
Well I must admit, I have no idea what the heck Ms. Stanton is saying here, which my lack of understanding, is probably proving her assessment quite accurate.
Then there’s Albert Einstein, who was pretty smart, I’m pretty sure, and he once told a friend,
“People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live…[We] never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.” Albert Einstein
But then you have the Apostle Paul of the Bible who told people to:
“Stop thinking like children…in your thinking be adults!” Apostle Paul
But then in the same Bible, there’s this guy named Jesus who kind of was, or is, a big deal and he said:
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Jesus
Okay, so you take adulthood, I’ll take heaven. Seems like a good trade to me.
Why does Jesus say we must become children, while the Apostle Paul tells us to stop?
Why do some say life gets better with age like a fine wine? Then you have Rod Stewart singing Forever Young?
Sure some argue against the teachings of Jesus, but how does one argue against the stylings of Rod Stewart?
This is getting confusing.
Do we need to grow up or stay down? Or maybe it’s both? An ancient German proverb says, “To remain young while growing old is the highest blessing.” Well the Germans have never been wrong before, so maybe they’re on to something.
So what do we let get wrinkly and what do we lather in anti-aging cream? What matures and what stays fresh?
Maybe we need to possess an intrinsic paradox of both – the growing and grown.
What do you think?
Are you growing or grown?
Is ADULT a four letter word?
Watch below the video version of this post with some extra commentary, plus a cameo appearance from THE Rod Stewart as we sing Forever Young together!