Dec 23, 2009

Growing Up

Irony is a funny thing– I say this in contemplation of one specific reference:

Sometimes it’s the people that we’ve held onto the longest, that, when were ready; are the easiest to let go.

Whether its relationships or friendships. Maybe it’s because while we held tight to that person, what we were really holding, was our idea of them. I say “idea” because of the pesky irony…

The irony, that even though we may see good and beautiful qualities in another person, they may never see it in themselves. Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean that they love themselves.

This problem successfully masks itself while growing up. By the time your 20something, some people are mature, some immature. Some people have grow-up, some are on their way, and some are destined to be life-long Toys R’ Us kids. We are all on our own path, struggling to find our own way. What is difficult to understand, is that just because we start off at the same place, doesn’t mean we end up any where near the same place.

So while we struggle to accept this, we hold on to hope that a certain person (relationship or friendship) will end in the same place. We see characteristics in these people that show, with some faith, hope and hard work, they could end up at the same finish line. That hope overtime morphs into full-fledged belief. Belief that the person could and would hurry to…

Rise to the occasion
See the good in themselves that we see; AND
Realize all the wonderful things they deserved in life, because we realized it

We hold on to this IDEA, this hope, this belief– for weeks, months and in some cases of strong believers(like myself) years. We hold out, waiting for a person to see their own potential. But sometimes waiting is as far as the progress goes. Whether the situation is “we have been together for years” OR “we have been friends forever” the point is that TIME does NOT bind people. What bind us is that we have to continue to grow in the same direction. As much as I don’t want to admit it, some people never grow up, and if they do, it doesn’t that there growing alongside us.

So should we feel hopeless or defeated because we find ourselves to be one of the “believers”? Should we feel na├»ve because we are the hopeful few who holds on to an IDEA of person and see’s the great person they have the potential to be?

I don’t think so. I don’t think this seems fair. We shouldn’t feel bad for seeing the good in someone (even if they only reveal it to us and no one else). We shouldn’t feel bad for believing in someone. We are learning too, 20something is about trial and error. We just have to manage and gage how much hope and energy we invest.

So while we waiting in baited breath for our friends and relationships to move with the times, we must not forget about the irony of it all. If I’ve learned anything in my 20something years, it’s that you can't force people...

To do what you want them to do
See what you want them to see, OR
Act how you want them to act.

The only thing we can control is ourselves. This is frustrating and sometimes disappointing– but once we accept this–we can walk away from the people--the ones where we have been holding on to their IDEA. The people that we have been hoping will grow and evolve into something more.

Once we realize this irony…it’s much easier to let go. Once we see that our IDEA of a person is only an interpretation. Remembering that is may not be WHO they are or WANT to be. Recognizing this and accepting this is what makes letting go and stepping away much easier.

I think there is some truth that you have to let some things fall apart so others can fall into place. I want to avoid all cheesy “Hallmark-isms” but I think this is so true. By 20something most of people have already discovered and revealed their core person. Sure, they have more things to accomplish and add to their resume of life; but core characteristics are already laid out. So, we have to let go of our “IDEA of a person” and accept people just as they are. Once we do this, it is much clearer whether they has a good or bad influence/impact on our life; whether they add to our joys or our sorrows; whether they make life a little easier or a little more difficult.

This is something we have to examine for our own sake. This is something that we have to do if we want to keep growing up and moving forward. And like all “grown–up tasks” it is a complicated and tough...but most times when we are honest with ourselves it is difficult. The upside is that once we let our IDEA of a person fall apart, we open ourselves up to new people who may help our lives come together.

Good judgment comes from experience…but experience comes from bad judgment. So we must forgive ourselves for acquiring experience, by holding onto our IDEA of a person.

Once we can get past the hurt and disappointment that some people are not growing along side us, we can be objective. We can step back and be honest with ourselves. The truth is that no one wants to be pressured to be something they are not, and no one wants to constantly overcompensate for someone else’s shortcomings.

As we grow up we leave some people behind. Sometimes its people that we want to hold onto, but we have to let go and accept this. We have to, so new people, who are already growing in the same direction, can fit into our lives.


“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.” – The Wonder Years