I have a love-hate relationships with cliches. It’s like things you say that don’t even mean anything anymore. And it’s not because they don’t mean anything, it’s just the fact that it has been used too often. But like I said, love-hate relationship. On the other end of that, is how I still believe that they become cliches in the first place because they are so true to begin with. How else could you overuse something if they have never been used in the first place?
So, here is a classic of all the classic cliches we have come to know:
To grow older is inevitable, but to grow up is a choice.
Highly overused, highly ineffective and to some extend, it has become highly meaningless (especially when said on birthdays!). But, I got the chance to sit down and think about this throughout this week. And I hate to admit, but this is true. I can’t keep myself from growing older in age, but I can make up my mind to grow up. And I don’t know, it just got me thinking even more. If growing up was a choice to begin with, what kind of choices should I make?
This is what I end up with:
The first decision that grown ups do is to choose the right relationships. They hang out with the right people and they are not afraid to cut off those relationships that are destructive. See, the way I observe it is that the people that I look up to, their communities are so healthy. They get that they need to act as mentors and role models to friends that are way under their age. They get that those who are in fact within the same range of age, are those they should most closely associate themselves with, allowing them to be stretched and shaped together, side-by-side. And the ones that are older, those are their mentors. The people they need to look up to.
People that grow up know these relationships and they are willing to grow in those relationships. Friendships between junior high kids should be totally different to friendships between college students, and even all the more different to friendships between working people and families. But if we are unwilling to grow up and allow our friendships to elevate, in terms of transparency, support and just being more and more brutally honest about each other (because that’s how the world works!) as you grow older, then what’s the point?
Proverbs 13: 20 (MSG)
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
The second decision: perspective. People that grow up realize that they need to learn to change their perspective. I think it’s a lot like wearing glasses. So many of us thinks that you can’t adjust your glasses. Technically you can’t, because you have to go to an optician to actually change its sizes. But it is still adjustable. The willingness to change the lenses will change what we see. This is what grown ups do! They understand that the way they see things need to be changed as their age grows.
The more I observe mature people, the more I see that perhaps what makes them mature at the core is because they assess situations from all possible sense that are outside of themselves, and then at the end of it they close in to a focal point of their own judgment upon the situation. And this focal point matters. Because if they close in too soon, they become a selfish person. But if they don’t close in at all, they will become naive. So, people that want to grow up will do their best to find the balance between how far should they rely on their own feelings and opinions and how far should they let others put a case in point.
Which, I think, takes a lot of intentional discipline to get there, since we are all selfish, to some extend, at our core.
Proverbs 28: 25-26 (CEV)
Selfish people cause trouble, but you will live a full life if you trust the Lord. Only fools would trust what they alone think, but if you live by wisdom, you will do all right.
Last one: effort. People in general count the cost of their visions and dreams, but grown ups actually make sure that they have put in enough effort to pay the cost.
What I love about grown ups is they understand totally where their limitations are and yet they don’t stop doing things to pursue what they want to achieve. And this ranges from just a simple career goal, to a world-size dream. People that grow up know that as their age grow up, the effort they need to put in for their life to work must be greater too. Even Spiderman gets this: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s right! Older, stronger, more knowledgable, more freedom to access so many things and opportunities in life. Of course this comes with a great cost.
Counting the cost is one thing, because even 5 year-olds can count money. Even little kids know they have to work hard to get somewhere, but only a few are actually willing to work hard for it. What I see is that, for example, they know for a long distance friendship to work, they need to make the effort to catch up. They know that when you are putting the effort to be honest, you will not get in trouble. The list goes on.
Luke 12:48 (MSG)
Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
So, apparently you can be entering your mid 50s and still have the mentality of a 5 year-old.