"Don't grow up, it's a trap!"
Many of us are familiar with this meme. I myself used to shout it to anyone who would listen thinking I had stumbled on some sort of witty wisdom. In a certain context, it can be quite profound, expounding the virtues of remaining a child at heart. However, taken out of context, this is terrible advice. It is based on a fundamental misconception of what it is to actually grow up.
Growing up isn't about getting a job, buying a house, having kids or living up to other people's expectations. It is about responsibility, yes; but your first responsibility is to yourself, to live a fulfilled life.
Kill the boy and let the man be born.
"Kill the boy and let the man be born". These words are iconic in Game of Thrones fandom; this is when Maester Aemon tells Jon Snow that if he is going to lead, he is going to have to start making some hard, and often unpopular decisions. Decisions that may not meet the approval of many people that he respects, but that he knows with the deepest convictions are the right decisions.
This is what it is to truly grow up and become your own person, a leader, a person of conviction. These convictions are what drive your purpose, fuel your passion and ultimately benefit the world. When you stop following the charted path, and place one unsure foot in front of the other, that's when you start to find your way. That's when you truly start living an authentic life.
There's this quote that I have from Diane Snedaker:
If you are interested in success, it's easy to set standards in terms of other people's accomplishments and let other people measure you by those standards. But the standards you set for yourself are always more important. They should be higher than the standards anyone else would set for you, because in the end you have to live with yourself, and judge yourself, and feel good about yourself. And the best way to do that is to live up to your highest potential. So set your standards high and keep them high, even if you think no one else is looking . Somebody out there will always notice, even if it's just you.
My dad sent me that earlier this year and this represented a huge breakthrough in our relationship. He was starting to see validity in my choices, whether they would have been his or not. I felt like he was starting to understand me, and I had finally earned his respect.
To be respected for who you are, you must be who you are. You set the agenda, standards and goals for your life. In order command anything- in order to be free, you must first command yourself; and in order to do that, you need to grow up.