This month’s post will be more of a note than an essay. (I think. “Pithy” will not be written on my gravestone.**)
Life has been busy lately—said every person I’ve ever met… except possibly some people I’ve met on Reddit—and, between a full summer working at camp, moving into a Big Girl Apartment, and starting a full-time job as a first-year high school teacher, I have realized something. I’m doing it. I’m really doing it folks. Peter Pan’s nightmare. I’m growing up.
Don’t argue with me about my relative state of grown-up-ness (I’m talking to you, Benjamin girls!!!) I will engage in a hearty debate defending my position as a person-in-the-current-state-of-growing-up, provided we both get to stand behind podiums. And only if Anderson Cooper serves as moderator.
Now, please note the relative significance of my made-up terminology.
“Person-in-the-current-state-of-growing-up” IS NOT EQUAL TO “Imminent grown-up.”
(If you’re a math person, please imagine that there’s an equals sign with a little slashy thingy. I don’t know how to make that with my computer. Apologies.)
I don’t really think grown-ups exist, because I don’t think there’s a finish line for maturity. There’s no point in life where one could say, “Oh, wow. She did it today!! She really finished growing up. Put a fork in Sandra, because this girl is done!”
That being said, I do believe there are certain phases of life more devoted to learning and growth and change. But when I was younger, I had a very limited, concrete understanding of adulthood. I thought of “growing up” sort of like a large, strange door. You walk in this theoretical door with pigtails and a slap bracelet and you come out the other side with a briefcase and a general disdain for anything sticky.
Even the thought of acquiring a full-time job used to give me the heebie-jeebies. Considering life beyond college made me feel as though I were going to vomit a brick. Because I, like Peter Pan, misunderstood growing up, thinking it was all about wearing a tie and a serious expression in the middle of July.
I’ve recently begun to hypothesize that growing up means something vastly different for each one of us, because we’re such vastly different people. The process of growing up is actually about growing closer and closer to the whole, right, good and beautiful person that God originally intended it to be before you pooped all over that by being a sinner.
I thought that, to be a grown-up, I would have to know how to do my taxes. But I think growing up is when you listen more than you run your mouth. And when you accidentally wake your roommate because your voice is inherently too loud… and you apologize. And you don’t make any excuses. And you mean it. And you read a book instead. And it’s when someone does something really terrible to you, and you don’t tell anyone else about it, because it doesn’t need to be told. And it’s when you forgive someone. Again. And again.
And it’s when you stand in a really long line to buy your friend an ice cream cone. And there are crying babies, and rude, loud customers, and so much sweat on the undersides of your knees. But you wait and wait and wait and finally get them some black raspberry chip on a waffle cone. And you hand it to them. And they didn’t even ask for ice cream. And they look at the cone and say, “I prefer vanilla.” And you think in your head “I PREFER EVERYONE IN THE WORLD TO YOU, UNGRATEFUL WRETCH. I HOPE THAT YOU NEVER SAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN, EVER, TO ANYONE ELSE AND I HOPE YOUR FIRSTBORN CHILD IS UGLY.” And you don’t say that. You just hand them a napkin.
I want to think that it’s still okay that I occasionally spend my time attempting to catch raccoons in blue plastic buckets at midnight, because I’m learning to be less selfish and more aware, less weak-willed and more honest, less arrogant and more loving.
But I still can’t do my taxes.
**SIDE NOTE: “Pithy” would be an amazing epitaph. Can you imagine??
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.