How we know when we’re growing up

growing-up

I haven’t written my personal development and creativity blog in ages. I suppose when you jack your job in, leave London and start a whole new life (sort of), time gets away from you.

It’s not that I don’t still think about these things. They float around in my head and usually motivate me to improve myself or achieve something. Sometimes, they induce anxiety and make me feel overwhelmed.

But growing up wasn’t something I had been actively seeking.

You actually feel more mature

I decided to write this post about growing up because I’ve been starting to feel slightly more mature lately. Not in any real sense. I still don’t have any children and I don’t own a house, but running a business has its way of forcing you to grow up a bit.

When I first launched my freelance writing business, Away with Words, I reacted to every setback with a huge level of emotion and stress. I still kind of do a bit. I didn’t believe in myself and I wondered what I had done. I wondered if I should just get another job. It really hurt when people criticised me.

I would never say I felt particularly mature before. I actively avoided things that I thought were meant for proper adults, like commitment and mortgages and children (the last one I’m still not so keen on). I lived every moment in a reckless sort of way, because you never know when you might not have another moment.

I suppose in a way that’s quite a morbid approach. It led to being very reactionary and feeling like very small things were very important. I don’t think I was able to subordinate my own needs to anyone else’s. It was my moment, after all.

You start to look at the long-term

But running my business has forced me to look at the long-term, as difficult as that is. I can’t let my emotions get the better of me, and I have to motivate myself to work even when I don’t feel like it, with no one looking over my shoulder.

Moving to Manchester has given me a different perspective on what I’m supposed to get from life. For the first time, I’m unexpectedly living alone. That gives you a lot more insight into your own personal habits and preferences. I live somewhere that has a proper community, where it’s possible to actually feel like you’re in some way mastering the city, instead of being lost in the swell.

On the other hand, it’s definitely difficult being relatively alone in a new city. I’ve done it before, and it never really gets easier. You feel like everyone has friends apart from you. You question your social abilities and your own sense of self-worth. Anxiety about the situation actually does cripple your ability (or willingness) to socialise, sometimes.

You rely more on yourself

It’s made me realise that you can’t rely on other people to fill your time and bolster your self-esteem. True independence means stripping away the external and being able to survive regardless. It’s about not gaining validation from outside yourself. It’s so difficult to achieve.

I think it means you’re getting mature when you stop wasting time on pointless drama and conflict, and instead you devote most of your time to things you really want to do. You also stop making effort with people who don’t return the favour. And that’s okay.

You become an observer

I don’t think being mature is a static state that you can reach and then give up. But it does mean that you move past a point where your internal vantage point is more that of an observer, rather than being immersed in experiences with no perspective.

You can choose how you react to things, rather than things controlling you. It’s not always a perfect process. You mess up sometimes.

It means you can stop taking everything so personally and realise that most problems people have aren’t really about you. That doesn’t stop what they’ve done being hurtful but you can avoid obsessing over it, or having it tarnish your self-esteem.

You have serious interests

Having serious interests helps me to stay focused, even when life is falling to pieces around me (or so it seems). It means being creative and expressing that creativity in whatever way most appeals to me at the time.

Things I’m working on right now:

  • My fantasy novel and concept art
  • Drawing webcomics
  • Writing poetry
  • Getting better at baking
  • Learning to code and build software

I’m glad I have my creative pursuits. It’s refreshing to now have more time to devote to everything I want to do. I believe everyone is naturally creative, and it promotes mental and emotional wellbeing to express our creativity.

Conclusion

Growing up is relative. It depends on where you began versus where you are now. Some people seem to be born as old souls and other people never “grow up” particularly.

I think growing up means realising your own sense of personal power and taking responsibility for the life you’ve made. You stop blaming other people or events for dictating how things turned out, and you also stop avoiding the issues that make you unhappy.

Everyone will find a different path towards growing up. For me, starting a business has been really positive because it’s led me into some challenging situations. It’s helped me to grow my confidence and feel more like a real person. It’s something to call my own.

CatherineCatherine Heath is a freelance writer in software and marketing. She’s obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Image credit: Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

 

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