I remember the look from my grown up friends when I declared I wanted to work 20 hours per week (or less) and earn an annual salary of $200,000. We were all fresh out of college and had no idea what life held in store for us in the wake of the largest financial crises of our conscious lifetime. Why couldn’t just admit that we were all growing up?
To have a job to pay your bills was a hot commodity and something you better be grateful for gosh darnit. How dare I make such a bold declaration when I should have been grateful for earning one sixth of what I desired to earn?
Their disapproval was palpable and their condescension of my big vision unbearable.
Next week I am turning 29. It is very interesting to me to turn 29 because that just means I am one year away from the big 30.
You know how it goes: When you are younger you are eager to grow up. Turning 21 is a big deal in the U.S. because that is the legal age for drinking since that age magically qualifies you to be an adult. But time and time again friends report that growing up and getting older stops being such a big deal after 21.
In fact, I tend to forget my age more often than not. The other day I even told a co-worker I was 27 when clearly I have been 28 years old for the past 361 days.
However, somehow turning 30 is supposed to be a big deal as it is the dawn of a new decade. Even though I don’t quite remember turning 20 being a big deal. Perhaps it’s because turning 30 somehow signifies that I survived my 20’s—a time for personal growth, boundless fun, and doing whatever I wanted. Apparently the pounds start packing a little easier once you cross that threshold and doing whatever you want (not working out and still eating that big fat greasy burger) is no longer an option without paying the consequences dearly.
I talk to many people on a daily basis and I don’t know that a week goes by that I don’t hear someone tell me that they want to make something of themselves. It is as though growing up has an uncanny ability of igniting that inherent human desire for growth and we are suddenly reminded the only constant in life is change.
I know I have one more year to go before I can dread the big 3-0, but quite honestly I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel like I “need to make something of myself”. Even though I haven’t accomplished my desired salary and workload, I don’t feel unaccomplished. Perhaps when I turn 40 I will feel that way, but not right now—and right now is what matters to me.
That got me thinking about what I could share with you so that you don’t have to feel like you are a sore looser because you believe you haven’t accomplished anything in your life. So here are 4 pieces of advice I can give to you regarding growing up:
I think there is a very serious malady in our day and age. A malady that kills dreams and hopes in exchange for a steady paycheck and health insurance. Don’t get me wrong, I have both a steady paycheck and excellent health insurance and find them incredibly valuable. I am just not entirely sure that it is worth the trade-off or that they are mutually exclusive.
I’ve never been one to follow the mold of what was expected of me from society. And growing up quotes such as this one really put “growing up” into perspective:
“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” #MayaAngelou (Tweet this!)
What growing up means to me:
Let’s face it, remaining a child forever is to avoid facing reality and our power to create our own reality. I believe growing up to be a combination of staying true to the demands of your reality (like paying the bills, and making sure you keep your kids alive—this is a joke people!) while still honoring your own inner-child and its desires.
Growing up means to hold the tension between our burden of responsibility and our boundless nature as spiritual beings. Notice that nowhere in that sentence did I mention owning a car or getting married.
Growing up means to take responsibility for your life whether you life your circumstances or not. It means that if you don’t like what’s happening, you change it. To complain about it is childish because it implies you are only willing to dream about how life should be but are not willing to do the work.
The stuff that matters is inside:
The truth is that you, nor anybody else needs to make anything of anyone. We live in a culture that sells you the false idea that you are not good enough and never will be. It is the entire premise under every single piece of advertisement on mainstream media.
The problem is that instead of looking within for answers on how we should feel about ourselves growing up and what we have accomplished, we are looking without for answers. We compare ourselves to our more successful peers, and we even covet celebrities for being what we want to become.
Introspection, you see, is the real secret behind finding your purpose in life and feeling like you are good enough to turn 30 even if feel you haven’t accomplished jack.
Take a moment to listen to your thoughts without judgment and ask yourself “what do I need to experience to feel like I have accomplished something important?” and then ask yourself “why” until you can no longer ask why.
Don’t own a home? What do you expect that owning a home would help you experience in your life? Why does that matter? Why does that matter? Why…?
Oftentimes you may find that your desire for a certain kind of experience can easily be accomplished with a bit of introspection and focus. And that, my friend, is the secret to living life from the inside out.
Ok, so you still feel like you haven’t accomplished anything? So what are you going to do about it?
Need help? Come on over to my coaching services page, I’d love to lend a guiding hand and provide you with support and encouragement so that you can achieve more of what you want and feel real satisfaction in your life.
But you have to take action. I am not seeking to earn more money by working less by sitting on my couch watching TV. Grow up already and take responsibility for your life! (See what I did there?)
Growing up is a very misunderstood subject. Now that I am approaching the big 30 I am coming face to face with my responsibilities as an adult and the dreams I always wanted to see come true. So don’t you ever let anyone tell you that you are not good enough or that you haven’t made anything of yourself because that is not what growing up is all about.
In the end, I encourage you to ask yourself what is growing up synonym to. Is growing up synonym to routine, or is it synonym to joy and wonder?
Most importantly, what will you do about it?
Next week I’ll be sharing 29 things that everyone should do by age 30. Perhaps having completed all of these tasks was like a small rite of passage and that is why I don’t feel like I need to make anything of myself.
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How about you? Do you feel like a grown up? What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t feel like they’ve accomplished anything? Share your answers in the comments below!