When do we go from adjectives to nouns, from growing up — to simply — grown up? When do we become All Groan Up?
Does the switch happen when you get your driver’s license? The first kiss, first shave, the first time you go to a Halloween party instead of trick or treating?
At the bar mitzvah, or the non-Jewish equivalent?
First beer, first cubicle, the first time you can rent a car without the added $30 a day fee?
The first time you don’t laugh when your Aunt Martha and Uncle Ed talk about their recent trip to Lake Titicaca?
I’m not sure.
At twenty-eight years old, I know there is an invisible adult-tipping-point. Somewhere. Looming. Right under the surface. The hairs tingling on my arms say it’s stalking me. Watching. Waiting to grab my leg at the first drop of maturity.
Then I will no longer be growing up. Instead I will simply be grown. No longer able to chalk up mistakes and failures as simply part of childhood adolescence — a part of the learning, growing process. Because at some point the process is over and the grace to mess up is packed away with the G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls.
Then you’re a finished product. Regal and refined. Sporting a few gray hairs and the wisdom to go with it. You stand up straighter, comb hair neater, and talk clearer – enunciating with much more enthusiasm and regularity.
No longer Billy, but Bill. No more Tommy, just Tom. Katie is long-gone, now it’s just Kate. Then before you know it, Kate or Tom isn’t even official enough.
No, now it’s Ms. or Mr.
So is it wrong I still feel like I’m growing not grown?
It seems that life’s major markers have gone through a transformation the last few years. House. Marriage. Career. They are not the easily obtained prized possessions that they were in the past. Companies and employees have as much loyalty towards each other as Hollywood relationships. Many of our parent’s marriages have lasted, well… as long as Hollywood relationships. And owning that dream home has been leveled with eviction notices.
The American Dream has gone through the ringer, and I think many in this generation are questioning what exactly they want that dream to look like for them. So when it comes to “adulthood” the definition has been reinvented alongside life’s other major transitions. Becoming an adult is no longer linear and straight-forward — no it’s lathered in ambiguity, change, and trial-and-error. We emerge into adults as we continue along the process of growing up.
Plus shouldn’t we always be growing and changing? We talk about becoming a “grown up” as if it’s this predetermined point that we all have to reach. I’m 28, married, with an 11-month year old baby girl and I feel like every day I am growing up and growing into the person I need to be. For my wife. For my daughter. For the world that I want to breathe life into.
Should I ever want that process to end? Should we ever really become All Groan Up?
What do you think?