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Grownups here     

Posted by Katherine Putnam on November 6th, 2012

“We never have grownups here that are girls.”
“I know.”
“I really like it.”
“Me too.”

I just have to ask: does anyone ever really feel like a grown up?

I have the odd moment or two when I realize that, in the eyes of my five-year-old or ten-year-old or eighteen-year-old self, I’m grown up. I can smoke, drink, drive, vote, and rent a car. I have a job, pay rent, pay bills, have a spouse, plan meals, plan for the future, etc, etc. I experience odd moments when I look around for a grown up in charge and realize that that grown up is me.

In some ways I think that it’s good that I don’t feel grown up. Shouldn’t “growing up” be a life long process? Shouldn’t we be constantly learning, growing, and maturing? I find it’s usually when I feel that I’ve “arrived” that I’m actually at my most blind and immature.

Where the heck is this coming from?

From an offhand comment someone made to me today in regards to a decision Chris and I are seeking God’s will on. “You think this is hard? You haven’t even come to the hard part yet.”

[That’s not a verbatim quote, Bee Tee Dubs.]

They didn’t make it to be rude, or pessimistic, or judgmental, holier-than-thou, smug, demeaning, belittling, fatalistic…none of that. It just, was what it was. It was that little chuckle you get when someone younger than you is struggling with something you’ve met and survived numerous times already.

I just felt like saying, “Yeah, this is hard. And maybe it would be easier with your years of experience, but I don’t have those. Do I think this is the hardest thing I’ll ever experience? No. Do I think it’s even the hardest thing I have experienced? I can’t say for sure.”

I mean, I’m not that naive. I know that problems always seem big until we’re looking at them in the rear-view mirror. Heck, I cringe and laugh and roll my eyes when I think of some of the things that troubled me in college, in high school, in middle school, in utero. (Just kidding on that last one. Had to make sure you were paying attention.) God’s already brought me through those periods, so of course they don’t seem so intimidating anymore.

I’m sure the person was thinking of home ownership and child rearing and all sorts of “grown up” things that I’ve yet to experience. And yes, I’ll admit that I probably don’t know what “hard” is yet.

But…but I wasn’t saying that I did.

I guess the rambling point to all of this is that I sometimes grow weary about all the cracks and jokes made at the expense of my age. Yes, I’m a good twenty plus years younger than all my co-workers. Yes, I don’t have near the life experience or wisdom that they do. But there’s really no way for me to have that until I’ve lived a bit longer, experienced a few more things. So what good is it reminding me of my youth and inexperience? It doesn’t magically grant me experience. It does, however, tend to make me feel slightly silly, unwittingly belittled, and as though the clubhouse door has been shut in my face. It makes me feel that I have nothing of value to say or offer. It makes me feel like a child, and not in a character-building, humbling kind of way.

Like I said, I don’t believe any of the comments are made with the intention to hurt me.

But regardless of intent, and regardless of my reactions, I’m still really stumped: will I ever be a grown up? Will I ever feel experienced or wise?

Probably not. (In some ways, in the trying-to-combat-pride ways, I hope not.) There will always be someone older than me, wiser than me, more experienced than me, more tested than me, who has suffered more than me, who has accomplished more than me, etc, etc.

If nothing else (since a conclusion is not forthcoming), I hope that this will make me think twice before offering the honey-you-ain’t-seen-nothin’-yet line to someone younger or less experienced than me.


Katherine Elyse

One Response to “Grownups here”     

  • sherry kane says:

    If being grownup means knowing what to do with each new life experience then no one arrives. If it is growing in character and god dependency then you are very grownup.
    Why do people feel the need to belittle? Every stage of life has its own joys and struggles. Because they are personal no one but you can rate their level of easiness or difficulty.
    This is a good reminder to me that just listening can be a very good thing.

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