When the growing gets tough...
…the tough get growing.
> Guest post by Elizabeth Brimage <
When I was young, I dreamed of being older. All of my imaginings, my games, my childhood fantasies, revolved around being older.
I pulled the 10-year-old neighbour boy around the corner of our backyard and told him, “we’re going to play weddings” (note: did not ask him. I feel like I’m weaving some excellent relationship advice in here). Then I played both priest and blushing bride while he stood there unwittingly playing the groom. At the end of the ceremony I got him to kiss me. On the lips. Some might say ‘forced’ but I’m pretty sure it was consensual. I don’t know. Stop looking at me like that. I can’t remember.
Somehow, this was the most mysterious and seductive thing I could possibly explore in my tiny brain. When does that mystery start to dissolve into sobering reality? When does the glitter fall off your childhood imaginings of adulthood?
Because it’s really tough growing up. There are so many unexpected roadblocks that throw us off. We realise that life does not just happen to us the way we expected, or in the right order. We get busy. We get disillusioned. We forget to stop and count our blessings. It gets to be too much and we want to hide or collapse. “Being an adult is not what it said on the box when I was 6!”, and “Work-Out Barbie told me exercise was supposed to be fun!”
And the process can make us unsure and vulnerable. Isn’t it easier to be mysterious, hold onto our illusions, and cocoon ourselves? We don’t have to avoid people altogether, just hold them at a safe distance. But then it gets lonely, and the pleasure of feeling unknown gives way to the pain of being misunderstood. We can’t just be observers. We must be participators. This is one secret to growing up. This is the exquisite beauty of living, to know others and to be known in turn. To share in our vulnerabilities and cover each other with grace and strength. The only way we will ever be perceived as perfect is if we stay far enough away from people that they can’t possibly know us. We owe it to each other to be authentic. You are strange and breathtaking. Let’s grow together.
And that’s perhaps thats when you’ve got to get back to your childhood self a little bit. Be cheeky, and stop taking things so seriously. At the end of the day, it’s important to gloat to your childhood self. “Right now I have over $100 in my wallet- bet that sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it? Well, it is*.” and “I can eat as many musk sticks as I want to. I can even have them for breakfast.” I feel like this is something we can all take away from growing up.
*It is not really a lot of money. But when I have 15 coffees to make, the elderly lady in the corner has spilled her hot chocolate on herself, I’m knee-deep in empty milk bottles and I still have 5 hours left of my shift, it feels like it is.