Today is my birthday. Yes, first day of spring–a good day to be born, I think. If you’re into astrological signs, you should know I’m an Aries and was born in the Chinese year of the ram, which probably means I’m stubborn. Just a bit.
Anyway, since I’m another year older–if not wiser–and since my novella Grown-up came out this week too, I’ve asked some people to share their thoughts on growing up. Share yours by commenting here. I’ll randomly choose one commenter on March 28, and that lucky person will win a signed print copy of Brute (which I’ll ship anywhere) plus a $10 Dreamspinner gift certificate.
For me, I think I finally felt like a ‘true’ grown-up the day the nurse handed me my daughter. I probably should have been more scared than I was, but I just wanted to hold and get to know her. Since that day, I realized what being a parent meant, the responsibilities that go with the fun and joy. That was when I realized, I’d finally made the leap to being a grown-up.
–Andrew Q. Gordon; www.andrewqgordon.com, author of The Last Grand Master
I just hope I’ll never grow up completely. Sometimes one is in need of the inner child sooooo much.
Being a grown-up is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t be in a hurry to get there because once you do, you will spend the rest of your life trying to recapture the joy and fun of being a child again.
Don’t spend more money than you make. It’s a simple, time-tested piece of advice, and yet something you tend to forget when you’re young. Credit cards are for emergencies, not to live off of. The things you buy because you think you absolutely cannot live without them take on new meaning when it takes years to pay them off.
People (including the furry kind) are more important and valuable than things. Never forget that.
There comes a point in your life when you’ve forgotten what it was like to be daring and take chances. Sometimes, that is the time to forget all the wise, sage advice about living within your means. Take a trip to a foreign country. Experience something outside your comfort zone. Take a risk. Because the truth of the matter is the older you get the faster time flies, and we only get one shot at life. Working to pay bills is not living, not to the fullest. If you’re going to go into debt, make it for experiences, not things.
There you have it: what I wish I could go back and tell my 20 year old self. 🙂
I don’t have any children as you know, and I think I am less grown up than friends who have because I haven’t had to set an example/worry for them etc etc. 🙂 As for the best birthday present, without a doubt it was my mare, Mabel, giving me a beautiful filly foal unannounced on my birthday. Florence (registered name Dreamspinner) wasn’t due for another ten days, but when I went to see to Mabel on the morning of my birthday there she was up and having a drink of milk. I doubt I will ever top that for a present.
It’s hard growing up. I’m only a sophomore in high school and already people are making me think about college and after college and life (Mom). I don’t know if I’m going to get into the college of my choice. I don’t know what I’m going to major in. I don’t know what kind of job I want. Plus I’ll probably lose my friends (and possibly my boyfriend) when I go off to college. I don’t know how I’m going to support myself financially when I’m out of college. I don’t like growing up. I want to go back to elementary school, when life was easy and I didn’t constantly worry about my grades or my future.
–My older daughter, currently 15 years old
I remember looking down at my newborn daughter and having this “oh shit!” moment when I realized that I was the one responsible for her. I was the one she would look up to, to keep her safe, and take care of her. I wasn’t a kid anymore. I was the mom who would be taking care of the kid.
That said, I do my best to embrace the kid in me. She’s a geek who loves Japanese anime and manga, loves to wear costumes (Kim can tell you about my mermaid costume for GRL!), and writes stories she wants to read (angsty romances) about mermen, vampires, or just hot men. She’s got Star Trek Barbie and a purring tribble in her office, and collects mermen ornaments (so freaking cool). She’s also got a collection of genga (the artwork used to create computer-generated cells for animated shows) from Japanese anime.
I think I first felt grown up when on my 18th birthday, I ordered my very first legal alcoholic drink (a Bloody Mary) at a bar and the bartender didn’t even bother to card me! I was very disappointed but I did feel pretty grown up to pass as 18. We could drink at that age back in the dinosaur days, and fortunately I was already 21 when they changed the law.
My very best birthday present was the official confirmation of my pregnancy on my 37th birthday! Emily was born 8 months later.
And my advice to someone is don’t rush to be grown up! Enjoy yourself while you don’t have many responsibilities because it all gets a little harder later. Of course, no one will listen to that if they’re over 12, but hey, gotta try! 🙂
–Jon Treadway, www.jontreadway.com
I believe you never stop growing up. With some family members in their 90s, the rest of us (even those in their 60s!) are often advised that we still have a lot of living to do. Each and every day, we’re learning and growing, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. It is an intense truth that you’re only as young as you feel. The trick is to never forget the core being of yourself, even as you stretch and grow. And to believe you’re never as old as you fear you are.
–Tray Ellis, http://trayellis.blogspot.com/, author of How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings
To Mortgage or Not to Mortgage… That’s When You Know
When did I first feel like a grown up? Oh, I remember the day clearly. It’s kind of hard to forget when you sign your life away, lol. In my middle twenties the hubby and I bought our first house. We’d been saving for a while and been looking even longer. Then he found the “one”. It was outside of the city limits and had a acre with a pond in the backyard. There were neighbors near us, but not so close you could reach out and touch them from your window. It was also in the last stages of being built, so we’d be the first to ever live there. It was a dream come true. The night before we went in to sign the papers we both suddenly looked at one another… and panicked, lol. Mortgage! Responsibility! OMG, when had we grown up, lol? That’s my first memory of being grown. 🙂
–M.A. Church, Decadent Delights, author of Trouble Comes in Threes
These days, I teach physiology and I love watching the annoyed faces when I explain to my students that technically twenty-five years is the mark of adulthood for most bodily systems. Who didn’t think they were already an adult at eighteen? Now many years later, I look on my eighteen year old self and laugh. For me, though, knowing I was an adult wasn’t the moment I realized how much of a foolish youth I’d been, it was the moment in my medical residency when I was told to come up with a limb salvage plan for a patient. It fell to me to decide a plan of action that would allow this person to save their limb and potentially their life and I would be the one leading the surgery. In that moment I knew I was an adult and boy, I didn’t want to be. I wanted someone to hold my hand and carry me through that moment. We both made it through fine, but there are still many days I would want to give up my adulthood if only for a few hours.
–Jana Denardo, http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/, author of Kept Tears
I went away to college at the age of eighteen. Eight hours away. Probably one of the best decisions I ever made. Within a few days of arrival, I already had a fledgling group of friends and we decided to go to the movies. I had the only car so I would be driving. When we got ready to leave, it struck me. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, how long I would be gone, when I would be back, and even better, I didn’t have to ASK anyone. Massive wakeup call. I was a grown up. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve never looked back since!
–Katherine Halle, https://katherinehalle.wordpress.com/, author of Fixing the Hole
I’m not entirely sure I’ve admitted to myself I’m a grown-up yet. I think I prefer to imagine I’ll keep growing up until the day I die. There’s always going to be a part of me that is all kid. It definitely comes through in my writing in places, where many of my characters are gamers or just like to play. In the end, I think I’ll take Jimmy Buffett’s approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfV_v3ymO3o
–Grace Duncan, www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog/, author of Healing
I knew I was a grown-up when, some time ago, I met the guy who bullied me mercilessly when I was in high school and I saw that time had not been kind to him, that I was more elegant, more cultivated, smarter, and that had been true forever, only that I couldn’t see it when I was a teenager. I think that as a grown-up we only get more perspective, but what makes us special is always there, and some people just can’t stand it.
Growing up, for me, seems like a great ball of confusion. I can sort out quite a number of memories about tough times, but only a few that shine in my mind as really precious. Like body surfing in the warm Pacific with a full summer moon shining down from a cloudless sky—for once feeling that the group of other teens around me were truly friends. Or walking every day from the family campsite to the stable in town all by myself, and working so I could be with the horses and ride. But the first time I felt the weight of being grown up came out of a bad situation. I’m not going to describe that situation—too much of a bummer—but the result was I had to hitchhike from St. Joseph, Missouri “home” to Long Beach, California, in a tee shirt and jeans, barefoot, with 87 cents to my name. It was crazy, and I learned lots of things about people. For one most of them are good-hearted and will go out of their way to help a girl in need. I’ve never forgotten the kindnesses I received. But neither hitch-hiking solo or learning that people are better than we’re often led to believe gave me that. “yeah, this is what it means to be grown up” feeling. I experienced that the first time I ran into someone not so selfless, and I learned that sometimes a person has to say no—even if it’s scary as hell.
–Lou Sylvre, http://www.sylvre.rainbow-gate.com, author of A Shot of J & B
I’m not the person to ask about this. I am not sure anyone in my family has ever acted like a grown up, so I don’t know what that actually means. If looking outside yourself and doing things for other people is a sign of growing up, they did do that. Some of them. At times. But others didn’t – wouldn’t more than couldn’t – and it was just a mess. My ex-step-father, who is now in his 70’s, is the least grown up person I’ve ever known. And if you haven’t grown up by 70 you’re never going to. He hates responsibility and avoids it at all costs, and somehow this has worked out for him. It helped that his parents died and left him money, otherwise I have no idea how he’d get along. All I can say is try to be kind to other people (which he has never done). It’s the least you can do, and can be considered some sign of maturity.
–Andrea Speed, www.andreaspeed.com, author of Paris
I was one of those kids that seemed to grow up fast because I developed early. Grown men hit on me before I was even a teen. But it was years before I felt like an adult. I grew up a lot when my daughter was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit minutes after she was born; she spent the next two months there and even longer in the pediatric intensive care after that. I grew up more when I saw my mom—my hero—struggle to walk. That was eye opening and inspired many of my recently written words. I’ll be an orphan when she’s gone, which means I need to recue myself from all or learn how to say, “Help me.” And that’s the most recent moment of maturity, when I said, “I can’t handle this anymore.” I ended up quitting my teaching job and changing my life, taking responsibility for all my failures and successes. Isn’t that what growing up is all about?
–Posy Roberts, http://posyroberts.com, author of Tangled Mind
The thing I look forward to when I grow up is having a phone that actually has internet connection and being on electronics when I want for as long as I want. And having a pet. Or several.
–My younger daughter, currently 12 years old
I figured I was finally a grown up when my younger brother got married. Actually, he eloped with his girlfriend and then got secretly married.
He was six years my junior and his girlfriend was about four years younger than him.
And they were both legal. Made me realise I was old enough to do all those things. It was depressing.
Growing up wasn’t a one-time realisation for me. There were a series of milestones that I then looked back on and understood that I had been growing up for some time. Regardless of whether or not I felt it.
I think the first milestone was when my mother left home. I was seven and suddenly thrust into the ‘family machine’, part of the processes that kept everyone fed, clean and clothed. Until then, I hadn’t taken any notice of how things got done or by whom. I’d just done my chores when asked and didn’t think any further about it. Suddenly, being responsible became a real thing. (btw, Mum leaving home was a good thing.)
The second milestone was when I met my first boyfriend. I was fifteen, he was twenty, and I suddenly became capable of making my own life decisions. Of course, most of the time, my decision was to let him decide how I was to live my life, but it was still a decision.
After that the milestones came thick and fast: choosing to pursue an education, just in case I really had to rely only on myself at some stage; having a child, someone who relied on me totally; living through abuse, stalking and depression; being adrift; finding my inner strength, my purpose. There was no time to think about growing up or what it meant during that tense and troubled twenty years.
Then I was through it, out the other side. Independent. Self-sufficient. Balanced. For the first time in my life I’d achieved a state of calm and contentment. That’s when I realised—at forty—that I was a grown-up. It’s not a bad place to be. 🙂
–E. E. Montgomery, www.eemontgomery.com
Grow up? Wait! What? Why???? NOOOO! Never! I hope I won’t grow up. In my head I’m 13 but I tell the boys I’m 16. I don’t think anyone has to grow up or grow old we create our own realities… we write our own stories. Of course I deal in the grown up world and take care of my responsibilities but for the most part I stay in the role of playful teen. I focus on making everything fun (cleaning the house is a race, running errands is an adventure). I dance through activities like pumping gas if they didn’t want to dance they wouldn’t play music right? I practice random acts of kindness whenever I can even if it’s just to notice and admire something about a person’s appearance or to make them smile. I love the Black Veil Brides, Tokio Hotel and Adam Lambert.
–Z. Allora,, http://zallora.blogspot.com, author of Illusions & Dreams