I remember being a kid, being told to enjoy my life because it becomes more complex when you get older. I remember being in elementary school and developing my first (of hundreds) crush on a boy—and being told that there will be time to like boys when I’m older. I remember running to the mailbox and hoping I would receive one of those pretty envelopes that my parents received, being disappointed on an almost daily basis (thank you to my grandparents and Toys R Us for mailing me something for my birthday!), and being told that those letters weren’t fun. I remember watching my parents swipe their plastic to purchase something and being told that I should never use the creditcard for things. I remember all adults telling me I should do as they say and not as they do when it came to certain things because habits are hard to break.
Now that I belong in the young adult category, I must say that all of those pieces of advice were actually useful. Things are definitely more complex now. Boys have become men, but I’m still trying to figure out when the time is right to like them. And while they don’t throw a crayon to tell you they like you, they also don’t just tell you that they like you (at least the ones you wish would… long story). Those letters that arrive in pretty envelopes, those are bills. Those are not fun. I miss my Toys R Us and grandparent’s letters, although now I get ones from Starbucks and Joanne’s. Credit cards are a beautiful evil, and when you’re tempted to buy something you should always make sure you can pay it off that same month/week/day. I’m also glad that I didn’t pick up some bad habits, although coffee is an addiction I’m okay with.
However, with all the advice about growing up I received, I was never told a few important things.
Number one: it hurts. When you finally get grown up enough to move out of your parents’ house and receive the pretty envelopes, it is so exciting. You have daily phone calls with your parents, sometimes talking on the phone two or three times a day. It’s not quite the same as being there, but it helps. After a while though, the phone calls aren’t as long or as often. And you’re a little sadder when you hang up because you weren’t there to get that goodnight hug or kiss. Then come the days that you’re not feeling well. All you want to do is lay on the couch and have dad bring you soup and have mom rub your head while your little brother goes and picks some flowers and says he hopes you feel better. Then comes the day that you meet a boy and things were great but then they’re not so great. And all you want to do is have your mom hug you and your dad get you chocolate and your brother make a house in Minecraft, dedicate it to said boy, and throw in so many explosives that the world has a huge crater in it (in the game, that is). And you want your friends from back home to come, make you get dressed up, take you out, and show you all the much more attractive boys the world has to offer the way they did the last time you had your heart broken. Then comes your first birthday without your family. And you miss them so much that you practically spend the whole month crying—at your desk at work, in the car on the way home, curled up on the couch on the weekend, etc.. Every time you notice the countdown to your birthday, you die a little inside and wish you could postpone it. Growing up hurts.
Number two: it’s beautiful. Yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot and you have days that hurt more and days that hurt less. However, you also have these beautiful moments when you do things you never thought you could. You buy your first bed, first couch, first dining room set. Your apartment starts feeling like a place you really can call home. Then it becomes messy and it is just like your room back home (sorry, Mom and Dad). The first time you make a meal from a random recipe you found online and it tastes incredible, for instance. You take pictures, post it all over Facebook and Instagram, and call your mom to tell her. And your dad, and your aunts and grandparents. And your friends back home click the like buttons and you are so incredibly proud of yourself. Granted, it took a few months and some really terrible meals to get to this place, but you had a kitchen all to yourself to experiment in. Then come the second and third meals, and soon enough your Facebook and Instagram is full of pictures of home-cooked meals. You get your own animal and start training him and feel a sense of pride in that. You play with him, walk him, have a companion that licks your face when you’re crying, and you don’t feel so lonely. You go back home often enough (it’s so fun to surprise your family and just show up when you miss them a lot!) and make it a point to see some of your old friends. Those moments are even more special because they’re rare. You start making friends at work, you get introduced to their friends, and you start hanging out with them outside of the office. Granted, these people are not the same friends you had back home—no one can replace that group—but it’s time to accept that. It’s time to see how you are growing up and how beautiful that really is.
Number three: it’s an ongoing process. This part is kind of annoying. Growing up comes in phases, and when one is finishing the next one is beginning—and it’s hard to tell when that moment is occurring. Writing things down on a never-ending to-do list is important. Doing laundry is important. Forgetting to do laundry sucks. Forgetting to make a payment/change the account number on payments sucks. You find a new apartment, maybe with your spouse, maybe alone but less expensive than your first place. You get to make the new apartment start feeling like home. You learn what events and holidays need to become priorities in your life, and sometimes you change those around. You meet the new guy who makes you smile and want to get dressed up, and you thank God that the last relationship didn’t work out. We are constantly changing, learning, relearning, meeting people, feeling sad, feeling happy… We’re constantly growing (up).