Some of us are just born old.
Asking us when we knew we grew up is like asking us to solve a quantum physics problem in our head. We simply have no frame of reference. We always felt grown-up.
As children we felt the weight of the world on our tiny shoulders even though they weren’t ready to carry such a load. Atlas may have shrugged it off but we couldn’t. Circumstances of our childhood conspired together in such a way as to guarantee we would skip over some important stages.
The sense of wonder, freedom and innocence eluded us. Fun became a four-letter word.
We see smiling pictures of ourselves in our parent’s photo albums and don’t recognize us because we’re smiling. We do remember some good times, like catching fireflies on a summer’s evening and jailing them in a glass prison.
We remember making tents out of blankets and playing in them with our dolls or our GIJoes. We remember rolling lopsided balls of snow into distorted snowmen. We can even remember hugs and kisses and warm moments of intimacy.
But we also remember fearing those cherished moments would slip away too soon. And they often did. We knew those singular moments weren’t our life; they were just cruel snippets of what could be, what should be.What our friends experienced every day.
There is an old southern saying that states, “If you don’t crawl before you walk, you will crawl before you die.” I think it’s supposed to mean that we are supposed to experience phases of life at appropriate times. If we don’t, we will experience them inappropriately at some other time along the way.
Becoming an adult too soon is one of those “not crawling before we walk” kind of experiences. Doctors tell us not to push our children to stand up too soon because their leg muscles haven’t developed properly and it could cause injury. The same is true for our emotions.
But some of us didn’t stand a chance.Maybe you too?
We were forced to experience adulthood way ahead of schedule. Our under developed emotional muscles were simply not ready to take on such mature themes. And we became very adept at carrying our burdens because we were survivors.
When life gets overwhelming now, we put our big girl or big boy panties on and tell ourselves to “grow up for crying out loud”. The truth is we do a pretty good job; we have been trained well.
I finally became a grownup when I realized I could have fun, even pursue it intentionally.
I can enjoy life now without feeling guilty. I no longer think I’ve ignored the suffering in the world just because I laugh. Besides, maybe laughter actually helps up grow compassion. It gets our minds off ourselves for a while so we can think of others. It provides relief.
I am more compassionate now, give more now and extend myself more now because I’m a healthier person over all. A lot of that has to do with making sure I plan for fun.
How about you? Are you grown-up enough to laugh and have fun?