We all experience the growing pains of growing up. I hear many people, myself included, saying they don’t want to grow up, but how many of us actually do and what does it mean?
I’m turning 30 in a few months and have felt markedly more and more like an “adult” the past few months in ways I can’t even really begin to describe with words. I say this and I actually don’t even know what it means to be an “adult.” I keep thinking it is about financially taking care of myself, being physically mature, or emotionally stability. Yet even these descriptions seem to fall short of experiencing oneself as an adult.
To support my new interest in adulthood I’ve been reading a book called, “How to Be An Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration” by David Richo. (And yes, in case you were wondering, I definitely avoid allowing people to see the title while I am reading it on the bus.) Despite the embaressment factor, it’s a beautiful blend of deep spiritual truths with psychological insights. Just to give you a taste of the brilliance…here are the titles of the sections: personal work, relationship issues, and integration. If that isn’t enough to intrigue (if you are the type of adult or child who is intriguable) the book has entire chapters on assertiveness, fear, and destiny.
One of my largest growing pains revolves around needs. In adulthood we may seek relationships to fulfill a gap in our needs as a child. This book reminds the reader of the red flags of a healthy versus addictive style of loving and attachment. One of the biggest things I learned from the book about being an adult was the importance of setting boundaries. This is one area in particular I struggle with. I set boundaries energetically and then expect others to know where they are. Assertiveness would be the skill majorly missing in my communication, Richo recommends this process for owning our power and being assertive:
- Be clear about feelings, choices, and agenda
- Ask for what you want
- Take responsibility for your behavior
All this seems easy enough, right? For some reason I have the idea and story that people don’t like others who ask for what they want or need. To have wants seems needy. Yet the truth is that we are all needy because we all have needs. I somehow came to believe that what I wanted wasn’t valid or worthy of requesting. We become obsessed with them when we don’t ask for them or expect another to know what they are. For me that seems to be the missing component of adulthood – knowing what I want and expressing it, hopefully clearly.
Richo sums it all up with, “Psychological and spiritual adulthood does not come automatically with age. It requires ongoing and ardent work on ourselves. It involves articulating our own truth and acting in accord with its challenges.” With this in mind it would seem my “feeling” more like an adult is actually adapting to my process of becoming more and more the woman (spiritually and psychologically) that I am meant to be. It’s a painful adultation and one I’m feeling fully prepared for as I near my (dirty) thirty birthday.