I caught myself typing “how to remove oil stains from satin” into the Youtube search bar when it hit me: “Oh my goodness! I’m fully adulting right now!”
Gone are the days when I would take stain-ridden items of clothing home to mother dearest, only to have it returned to me a few weeks later when I visited again with the stain miraculously banished forever.
I thought for sure I’d reached fully-fledged functioning adult status years before that moment of truth. I’d been paying a bond (mortgage) from the age of 24, had a few jobs under my belt and was already on my third car.
And yet, at the age of 35, I didn’t know the most effective method to remove oil stains from a silk dress that I got on sale.
Grown up is a verb, not a noun
Just because I looked like an adult, talked like an adult, went to work like an adult, paid my bills like an adult (mostly) – didn’t mean that I’d reached a state of maturity. In many ways (particularly emotional and spiritual), I was underdeveloped.
Where my life went, my character had to follow – or so I thought. Turns out – your character determines the path your life takes. Just because I started working at the age of 18 (and currently have 18 years of work experience reflecting on my resume) doesn’t mean that I have fully actualized my true potential.
I allowed my negative past to handicap me for too long. I expected help to come from the outside – but none came. I expected my hard work to prove my worth – but we all know that workaholics are not really happy.
Maturity is the true measure of adulthood
Instead of ticking off all the things I do that qualify me for adulthood, I have become more purposeful about assessing the level of my growth. My husband and I have a monthly chat about our finances. We look at what worked and what didn’t the previous cycle and then agree on what needs to be corrected so that we use our money wisely (as a previous shopaholic – this is a MAJOR coup for me!).
I had to face up to my previous codependency tendencies – which was hard to do because I didn’t want to admit that I was the one with the problem. And yet, painful as that was, my life is filled with more peace since I toned down the drama and stopped needing people to approve of me and keep me happy all the time.
Another biggie to deal with was the fact that, as a big sister, I have consciously and unconsciously assumed the role of ‘fixer-upper’ person. It took me way too long to learn that you can never force others to grow. The best you can do is focus on your own growth – and let the fruit of maturity inspire others to invest in their own growth.
You actually can’t ignite the fire in someone else. All you can really do is fuel your own fire and allow the warmth and energy of your fire to inspire others to kindle their own.
The day you stop expecting others to exhibit qualities of your ideal self – and take responsibility for the person you want to be – is the day you enter ‘superhero’ maturity status in a world of adults trying to look all grown-up 🙂