I had a certain idea of what maturity was. A certain idea of what adulthood was. A certain idea of what it meant to be grown-up.
It meant following a track set out for me. It meant graduating from a four-year university in four years; getting a stable reputable job in an office; wearing corporate clothes ha; going out to nice places for dinner and drinks; falling in love by 25; getting engaged by 29; getting hitched by 30; buying a home; having a child or two; driving a minivan to take said children to sports practice… should I stop?
I thought it meant falling into some sort of routine. To know what to expect, to enjoy the mundaneness of life.
Today, everything I’ve ever thought or felt about adulthood and maturity has been shattered.
And I kind of like it. Like a lot. Like love it.
Because today, I know better. I know way better not only what it is, but what it means for me.
Today, adulthood means dressing the way I want without worrying about what people think; wearing no-heel boots/shorts/tank to clubs and rocking it; associating myself with whoever I want, whoever interests me without thinking about what I like; commenting on someone’s nice top/hair/bag/smile for the heck of it; sticking my head out the window; waving at people in passing cars…
Today, adulthood means getting serious about my purpose; focusing inward to understand myself; becoming more and more self-aware of who I am, what I’m thinking, how I’m living; facing and conquering my demons; listening to my passions and interests more than the voices of other human beings, even those who want the best for me; choosing to believe what makes sense to me; letting go of fears and other things that no longer serve me; recognizing, deepening, and appreciating relationships that truly matter; walking away from people and things that no longer serve me; walking freely, fully, and happily in who I am.
I had a conversation with a really close childhood friend, Esther Rha, a couple days ago. We’ll call her Rha since there are about a billion Esthers in my world.
Over watered down Asian drinks made by non-Asians, she shared that she’s never been happier in her life. She wakes up every day grateful for another day. She’s come to love and appreciate herself, realize that the world is not against her. She’s learning to take it day by day and know that things will unfold as they happen. She’s enjoying putting her all into where she’s at at the moment working with kids, even though she knows she probably won’t be doing the same thing forever. She’s basically enjoying her life.
Everything is falling into place for her. That doesn’t mean it looks perfect. It’s just that she thinks and believes it is. And so it is. And from the place, she can truly grow, flourish, and share what she’s made of with the world.
She and I are both loud, rambunctious, energetic, untamable. She’s always had a wild streak within her; I feel like I’m learning to feel that within myself more lately. But we’re not typical 27 and 28-year-old women, and definitely not typical 27 and 28-year-old Korean women. Ha.
We sat there and basically talked about how whatever maturity meant to us before, we’re walking away from it. Because if we can do everything the way she’s doing life, then we’re set. It looks whimsical or irresponsible, but there’s nothing more important, nothing heavier than knowing who the hell we are because that determines how we live our lives. We are not looking for status or something good to put on our resumes or respect.
We’re pursuing ourselves, we’re fighting for our freedom, our identity, our destiny.
To me, this is adulthood. It’s getting real. Not real about bills and responsibilities. Those things will always be there. Y’all adults should already know that. But the chance to show up in this world for who we are, to appreciate this live and live in its flow, its abundance – to me, that takes serious maturity. It takes self-awareness, asking hard questions, digging for answers, opening ourselves to truth.
Then, it’s living in that freedom. Freedom doesn’t mean shirking responsibilities. Far from it. Freedom is knowing that we have the ability to choose our lives, and people who truly understand their roles in the cosmos choose to do what it takes to live good lives. Which means paying bills on time, attending to matters as they come, keeping their word. Freedom is knowing that our lives are our responsibilities. And that’s the best burden to carry. It means we are subject to answer to no one but ourselves and the universe.
Further, freedom is living from the heart and soul, not off the expectations and judgment of others and of ourselves. It’s doing what makes sense within, what aligns with who we are, what we’re about. It’s having integrity, compassion, hope. It’s knowing joy and peace. It’s being courageous, bold, and unapologetic for who they are. It’s accepting the little quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us us.
To me, adulthood and maturity is more involved with knowing self and living in freedom than anything else. Someone who pays all their bills on time and refuses to look inward to understand themselves, to truly reflect on who they are and the life they live is not mature in comparison to someone who pays all their bills on time and has deep self-awareness, exercises intentionality in all aspects of life, and knows how to enjoy every moment.
That is all.
P.S. I tried to find a picture to make this blog post be more exciting but I couldn’t find anything that went with this. Unless it was super emo. I’m trying to make my posts more colorful!! Trying! Lolll. Just had to say that.