As seen in
When I Grow Up Goings-On
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Yes, I am the When I Grow Up Coach, but sometimes I feel like I’m a bit of a fraud. Here I am, a 31 year old woman who thinks of myself as a 15 year old in every way but the engagement & wedding rings on my finger. Yes, I see and acknowledge and feel proud of my accomplishments. Yes, I know all of the many past experiences I’ve had and how much they’ve shaped me, how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, how much there is still left to do & experience & accomplish. But I look around & see some of my friends, both older & younger, & see the homes they own in the suburbs & their kids & their early-to-bed lives & think that I have a looooong way to go to physically & mentally be in that Grown Up place.
Part of me looks at that & states matter-of-factly, “Part of my soul will die if I ever move to the suburbs”, with only the slightest bit of overdramatization. I look at all the trees & the strip malls & the cars that are second homes & I think to myself, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”
And then I come back to the city, to our tiny apartment where a day isn’t over until something has fallen on either Luke’s or my head. Where the computer is literally 3 feet from our bed, & where we have to turn on the TV so as not to hear each other pee – the bathroom is that close to the living room.
I dream of space, and light, and rooms, and stairs, and driveways, and bright blue skies and dark nights with lots of stars and private outdoor space (outdoor space!). But I also dream of walking out of my front door and being at a dozen great restaurants, boutique clothing stores, dance studios and gyms, galleries and theaters and public transportation, and big parks that are calling for picnics and runners.
I realize that these two pictures don’t go together, at least until Luke & I have our first $6 million in the bank and are able to buy whatever we want, wherever we want.
So now my Grown Up Self is saying to Be Responsible, pick the space & the air & the strip malls now that Luke & I are really, seriously, really seriously looking to buy a home this year. We’re not getting any younger, we’re going to have at least 1 rugrat in the next 5 years (it’ll be earlier than that, OK Mom?), & we can’t all live on top of each other.
Meanwhile, my Kid Self is saying, “BOR-ING! I want coffee shops, and nightlife, and a neighborhood that’s moving & shaking & alive & breathing & full of STUFF! TAKE ME THERE NOW!” My Kid Self is a bit of a whiny brat. But I know that I need to listen to her. She’s valid too.
So I guess that’s what growing up is. Redetermining your priorities and what’s going to make you happy now that you’re at a new place in your life. Living in Manhattan, thankfully, doesn’t hold the same weight as it did when I was 26 & would have to be escorted out by men in white coats if I ever had to leave. But it doesn’t have to be Manhattan or Michigan. It’s OK to not want a house in the ‘burbs. Or not want that now, at least. It’s OK to take a deep breath & say, “It’s a priority of ours to have space & not break the bank, but it’s OK to not take that to the extreme. That doesn’t mean we have to go to Idaho or somewhere where half of our current budget would buy us a mansion, while here we’d be lucky to get 900 square feet. It’s OK not to do that. It’s not what we want now.”
Within the last week our dreams and goals and realities have become clearer. And even though The Kid could be a brat sometimes, we don’t have to ask her to leave. We don’t have to do it 10 years from now, either. By then, our priorities might have shifted and it might be a relief to move to a house in the ‘burbs – not a soul-crusher. And if not, it’s OK to make our own rules as to what Growing Up means to The Wards. To our family. To our livelihoods. To our happiness.
Growing Up isn’t a box that you grow into, one that’s been predetermined by the rest of the world ( “Now that you’re married & 31, you must buy real estate & have 2.5 kids & be a great cook & purchase a mini-van & spend time weeding & harumphing over bills”). Growing Up is learning how to make changes that align with your new priorities – ones that seem to be different on a weekly basis, and might not be the same as your neighbor’s or your best friend’s or your Mom’s. And knowing how to acknowledge your needs & that difference & put the wheels in motion to make the choices that will support that.
I guess, in a nutshell, Growing Up is about bravery. And discovery. And change.