Did You Grow Up Yet?

"When I grow up, I want to be..."

I still think about this question - often. I've always thought, planned, and dreamed that way. My direction has always been dependent on some series of accomplishments and milestones. It kept me motivated and it gave me perspective in whatever stage of life that I was in. 

I was volunteering at a youth center a few weeks ago when an eight year old approached me and asked, "so what do you do?" I wish I'd had a more simple answer for her. Grown ups are supposed to have it all figured out right? When we have jobs, cars, homes and bills we're supposed to know what it is that we "do".

Cablecar to Montserrat outside of Barcelona, Spain. September 2016. 

But lately I've been thinking about whether or not I'm "grown up" yet. Am I a grown up? Am I what I wanted to be? Am I even aware of the things that I truly want? 

You can call it cliche but...

life is too short to waste it spending our invaluable time doing things with people in places we don't belong. I know, you feel selfish when you think this way - but the best sort of giving and generosity comes from an overflow in your own heart. An overflow. It doesn't come from the void - that's where insecurity and resentment, shame and regret live. What are you on this earth to do?
There needs to be a tug in our hearts to always push towards the pursuit of such an end (as if there is one). Put all practicality and probability aside and think about what you really need in your time on this planet - because that time is so short. But it's yours, for now, so please keep it.

And here is the best part, you have a head start If you are among the very young at heart.
— Frank Sinatra

My grown-up list of what I want to be as I grow up

  1. A more compassionate human being - I want to be what I crave from others. Before I can expect government leaders, social movements, corporations, friends, family, coworkers, clients, and the everyday stranger to be compassionate towards me, I have to be able to recognize and exercise this habit in my own life.
  2. A more well rounded person - I am no longer primarily defined by my life stage. I am not a student. I don't identify solely with my resume or even my creative portfolio. Being a young adult has taught me that I can be whoever I want to be and pursue whatever interests me without the fear of "getting into a good school" or "finding a good job". With those pressures out of the way, I can fully take notice of my personal interests and nurture them with much less reservation. When I do this at work, I'm more creative with business problems and find more ways to connect with the day to day position that I hold. If that isn't the definition of a well-rounded professional, I don't know what is.
  3. More social - I've always had a lot of acquaintances throughout my life and few close friends. That's my relationship style, and it works well for me. I want to feel less pressure to be friends with every single person in my social and professional circle while taking better care of the good friends that I do have and meet along the way.
  4. Creative - I love photography, writing, painting, singing, cooking, dancing, decorating, designing, and appreciating the others' crafts. It makes me feel alive and helps me connect with my favorite version of myself. I know that when I stay wired on schedules, process, and to-do lists for too long, I burn out. Creativity is the one thing that gets me feeling refreshed. 
  5. Healthy - Good health is a gift. In my current life stage, I have more free time that I realize I may have a decade or two down the road. This is the time to invest in my health. I want to create and keep habits that I can keep for a lifetime. 
  6. Family Oriented - When I was a kid I probably labeled this plainly as "good mom". While I still do want children someday, I know that the way that I treat my immediately family now, friends, and of course, Michael, is going to impact the quality of my family life now and far into the future. I want to be a better daughter, sister, cousin, girlfriend, and friend to invest in relationship skills necessary to build a (big) beautiful family someday.
  7. Forgiving - Both to myself and others. Period.
  8. Well Traveled - If there is one financial spending category that I never regret (other than gifts and good food) it is travel. Someday I'll look back fondly on my travel memories and fight to keep the habit up. Maybe that "someday" is in 6 months when I get a puppy, but either way, I'm planning for it.
  9. Well Read - I have a stack of books piled at the foot of my bed waiting to be read. There's nothing better than a stack of books filled with notes, post its, bent pages, and creases from reading outside on the pool deck.  
  10. Aware - I can't solve or even address all of the world's problems. That should not stop me from keeping myself educated. It is an active duty as a citizen of this world, and especially as a citizen of the wealthiest nation on the planet. 

The list will probably continue to grow. I'd be most disappointed if it didn't.