If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had the phrase “Grow up” aimed at me, I’d be a wealthy man. Whether by a parent, a friend or a lass at the pub, I’m sure we’ve all been the target of these harsh words at some point in time.
The term “Grow up” is pretty self-explanatory and is used in a number of different contexts. When we tell people to “Grow up” or “Act your age” we have noticed them doing something immature and juvenile, and we are requesting that they act more maturely.
I never truly want to grow up and I hope you don’t either. If you want, you can turn your nose up at that statement and take a shot at my maturity or you can read what I have to say. Think about the things that are characteristic of being a child: enjoying small things, the discovering something new and nap time. Why would we ever want to grow out of that?
When we tell people to grow up, we mean to tell them they need to start acting more maturely. But are we really telling them that?
As we grow old and inch toward the abyss, we lose lots of things. We lose our vision, hair, teeth and in some cases the stability of our mental health. That’s how aging works. There are things we need to keep with us forever though, and those things only come from our childhood.
Curiosity is one of these things. Every kid has gone through the “Why?” phase where they ask the simple one-word question about every possible thing. Even though our parents think it is as annoying as possible, it all boils down to the intense curiosity we start to experience as children.
Everything is new to us, and we want to learn about it. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why aren’t blueberries blue? Once we lose our sense of curiosity and fascination with the unknown, we become dull and uninteresting. That thirst for knowledge is what makes life fun and interesting, and I hope I never lose it.
Another thing we should keep with us through our years is the ability to forgive easily and forget quickly.
We don’t have a lot of years on this earth, but to spend them being consumed with the grudges that we’ve collected like unread business cards is a waste of life. Forgiving isn’t easy to do and forgetting seems like a blessing many of us never receive, but as we grow older these attributes seem to get exponentially more difficult.
Grudges in my childhood were stolen toys and temper tantrums that were forgotten three hours later. But our problems as we grow older become more severe and emotional which makes forgiving and forgetting seem like it’s not even an option. It’s hard to keep a pardoning heart and a dismissive mind as we start to age, but that’s when they’re the most important.
The final and most crucial thing we lose as we grow older is the ability to have fun. As kids, fun was our driving factor.
Mom wanted to take me to Lowe’s? I would make it my sole mission to have fun, which usually involved my game of fake-pooping on the display toilets (still fun).
We found ways to have fun and enjoy the little things in life. Adults are portrayed as the antithesis of fun, so as we make the change from child to adult we’re convinced it’s our turn to play that role.
So are these things that seem childish worth growing out of? Our childhood was an instrumental part of our life and all these lessons and ideas that we think of as juvenile are actually the building blocks that made us who we are today.
I think it should be a goal for every one of us to retain the spirit of our youth and to never lose sight of how important “childish” things can be. In the words of Peter Pan, “Never grow up.”
Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.