I’ve always been fascinated by how people live: how people spend their days, how they make decisions on what they will do on any given day. I think this stemmed from a childhood belief that everything was possible, that on any given day, at any given moment, you had an infinite number of possibilities of how you choose to spend your time on this earth and so it led me to wonder how people decide what they’re going to do and how they’re going to go about doing it.
Growing up, to be honest, is a bit of a disappointment. I realized that though there are many different ways to live, so many of us are the same, so many of us choose to do things like everyone else, and what I thought was an infinite number of possibilities is now a finite number — even worse, it’s a small finite number. Worse yet was realizing that not everyone is afforded the same possibilities, that not everyone has equal opportunities in this world. The injustice in this world still affects me deeply today — it just doesn’t manifest the same way as it did before.
Growing up means to accept things as they are (or even if you question the order of things, you still accept that this is how we have created the world to be). On a personal level, growing up means to settle in your life, to narrow your choices, to choose a certain path.
When I was younger, I thought adults knew everything: you could ask any adult any question and he or she would have the answer. And so for me, growing up was being able to know everything, which became a goal to strive toward and so, believe it or not, I looked forward to “being grown up” so I could know everything. Well, you already know how this story ends, and so this became disappointment number two growing up.
Having realized growing up did not mean knowing everything, I focused on my other mission of knowing how people live. I became fascinated with travelling, for I thought I would be able to acquire more examples of how people live (I was older, but as is evident, not yet “grown up”).
Adults would tell me, yes, good, go travel, see the world before you get married, buy a house, have kids and settle down (more or less in that order). I never agreed with that approach because even if I did decide to get married and/or buy a house and/or have children, why should that affect whether I travel or not? You can travel with your spouse and with your kids or you can travel alone — you just have to make the necessary arrangements. And now that I’m older, I still believe that that way of thinking is somewhat flawed, but I have realized something else: it’s not that you get “settled” with the combination of spouse/house/children, but it’s that you get settled in yourself. You become settled in your ways and perhaps more resistant to change. Or, as I said earlier, you choose a certain path in life and this inevitably narrows your choices, and it’s not that you can’t travel, but it’s that you choose other things over travelling — your priorities change and you become accustomed to your life.
However, I have to say, travelling (or more so these days, the thought of travelling) still stirs something in me and I still feel like a kid at heart. Though perhaps I am “grown up,” I still think my life could go in any number of directions and that’s exciting. Sure, things are a little bit more clearly defined now and yes, my options are narrower (let’s be honest, I’m not going to be an astrophysicist or fly to the moon or raise horses for a living in this lifetime), but I still believe that many things are possible. There is still much to do in this life and I never tire of the challenges it brings me.
And maybe that is the great thing of growing up: because as much as in my eyes as a child everything seemed possible, sometimes this was too much, too daunting, and I felt out of focus. Growing up has meant for me being more focused, organizing my priorities, and more clearly defining who I am and what my place is in this world. I realize that the directions my life has taken is because of choices I made. And that’s a wonderful feeling.
I think if we could all say that about our lives the world would be a much better place. What do you think? And how do you live?