Most people grow old; not everybody grows up.

Are You “Growing Down”?

When I was a child, I can recall various times and situations when I heard the adult dictum to “grow up.” Usually, this directive occurred when I (or some other kid) was being chastised for some immature, selfish, or emotional act. “Growing up” was the exhortation for the chastizee to exhibit more stable and insightful conduct, which should be befitting their age.

When we moved past middle school, we gradually matured, preparing for a career or getting into the college of our choice. While we might have partied some on campus or after work as we proceeded through early adulthood, we quickly moved into a life of job, spouses and parenthood. Friends were, at best, a welcome respite from all those adult responsibilities. Life was busy and absorbed by those major commitments.

Sadly, as I move well past middle age, I see behaviors that remind me of those early, formative years. Absent kids, vocation, and formative marriage, I see many among my peer group reverting into the smallness manifested around those first 13 or 14 years of life.

It appears that, although we “grew up” fifty years ago, we may be “growing down” as calendar pages flip past us. Getting invited to a party with the “cool kids” was important several decades ago, but shouldn’t be these days. There may be multiple explanations for these regressive actions, but the “why” question is largely irrelevant at this point. What is important is our ability to recognize those tendencies and move away from them.

I advise my grad students that counselors are not advisors, but rather, “professional mirror holders.”

Homework for today: Have the courage and maturity to look boldly into that metaphorical mirror and see the personal changes that might have invisibly evolved without your notice. Have big life obligations and responsibilities been replaced by trivialities?

If so, it’s time to “grow up.” Again.

As we grow up, it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have REAL friends. Anonymous.