Who wants to be grown-up? It’s for the kids!

When you think back to your childhood and reflect on nostalgic moments, do you have memories of times when you felt grown up? I’m hoping to capture one of my ‘being grown-up” moments with you as I respond to one of the WP daily prompts.

Daily writing prompt
When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?

Certain childhood memories last a lifetime: family visits; memorable gifts, new clothes and shoes for the new school year. I don’t remember the shops so much, but I remember the excitement of the new shoes.

It is going to sound strange, but I have fond, special memories attached to shoe boxes. Every Christmas us kids would receive boxed slippers from my Gran alongside a new hand-knitted school jumper. Its probably why I don’t mind clothes as gifts now. However, as a child the jumper was fluffy wrapping concealing sweets and chocolates safely protected inside. I hastily transformed the slipper box into a storage container for my collection of sweets and chocolates. I would then stash the box under my bed for safekeeping. In addition, we would also receive selection boxes from relations so my stashed box would gradually fill up.

Image shows a square brown box with an image of a woman's shoe on the front
Image by BedexpStock from Pixabay

I must have been an unusual child, hoarding all my Christmas treats, but I enjoyed watching the box fill up. So you can see for me, shoe boxes always held significance. Even today I still use shoe boxes for storage and love getting slippers at Christmastime.

You will no doubt be asking yourselves what my fascination for shoe boxes has to do with feeling grown up. My very first memory of feeling grown up involves new school shoes.

Magical New Shoes

Image shows a cream coloured shoe with a block heel
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Hopefully you can remember that feeling of waiting impatiently to be old enough to do/wear something. For me it was shoes with heels. I was so desperate to be big enough to wear heels and be grown up.

I don’t actually remember visiting Clarks for that Autumn’s shoes, but I remember my shoes like it was yesterday. They were perfect – full shoe, straps at the ankle and heels. They were a rusty, bronze coloured leather with a kind of metalic sheen. Although not patent leather, they did sparkle beautifully in the sun. I was the bee’s knees! I proudly wore them everywhere. My badge of honour to being grown up. I adored my high heels.

With hindsight, they probably weren’t that high, being my first pair of heels, but they made me feel so grown up.

I was 8.

Growing up

While my 8 year old self still had a long journey ahead, we can’t deny the transitions experienced as we grow up. These transitional moments are so important to us and I believe they are very real instances of feeling grown up. I don’t think we ever have the same clarity as an adult about being grown up as we do as a child hitting those milestones.

Typically children are keen to grow up, they learn from the adults around them, mimicking their behaviours. They want to be like these adults “when they grow up”, establishing the milestones children progress towards.

Conversely, when these children become adults, they want their own children to retain their childhood, not rushing to grow up. Why, as children, are we so keen to grow up and leave childhood behind? I supsect the answer for each child will be different, influenced by the many factors in their lives. The realites of their lives. For me, I guess I just wanted to be able to wear grown up shoes with heels.

Image shows a child playing dress up, wearing purple high heeled shoes. Her own Wellington boots discarded to the side.
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

The Reality – Today

Our perception of what being grown up means no doubt evolves as we grow. I certainly think my 8 year old self, or even my 18 year old self would define being grown up differently than I would today.

My Definition:

Being a grown up means being responsible, respected, sensible and serious. Someone who has the answers to questions and knows how to solve problems. Even as an adult I felt that grown-ups were someone older than me. However, that only works for so long; until I realised I am the older person and allegedly all grown up. I don’t always feel particularly grown up but my recent reading helped me realise that I’m not alone here. Being grown up is scary and we don’t have all the answers. We can feel unsure sometimes, not meeting our own expectations of what being grown-up means.

Another aspect of defining being grown up had me thinking about the attitudes of others.

Is being a grown up about conforming to other people’s ideas?

I realised, on reflection, just how much of our perceptions about being a grown-up are shaped by societal norms. We’re supposed to be sensible, serious and not have fun as grown-ups. We shouldn’t engage in fun activities or have fun interests – sounds boring to me!

Society also seems to accept that ‘men never grow up’ but women have to, and be the sensible ones. Why is it that only men can have fun?

I believe that some of the long-held norms are being challenged. Who says we need to be serious? We can have fun, hold onto our idiosyncrasies, our love of mischevious characters if that’s what we enjoy. If supressing part of our character, part of our identity is a requirement of being a grown-up, then I’m not playing anymore!

We need to redefine what being a grown-up is, incorporating our whole character rather than surpressing it. We ought to be able to express ourselves fully. That’s what being grown up should be about. Displaying an element of maturity and responsibility when appropriate, but also having the confidence to embrace our inner child and go stomp in the puddles with new shoes if the moment demands it.

Embrace your whole self to be a happy grown-up!

Who’s coming to run through the crunchy autumn leaves or splash in the puddles with me? I’ve got some new shoes to break in 😆

Once you’ve finished playing in the puddles, you should sign up to my blog via the link below.


  1. “Being grown up is scary and we don’t have all the answers. We can feel unsure sometimes, not meeting our own expectations of what being grown-up means.” I’m pushing 60 and I still feel that way.
    Oh and your mention of Clark’s brought back memories of going school-shoe shopping when I was a kid in England. A few years ago, I bought a pair of “grown up” Clark’s and they are the most durable and comfortable shoes I own. I’ve added a few more pairs of Clark’s since then!

    • I’ve always liked Clarks shoes, but not bought any in a few years now.

      I’m not sure what happened, but your comment appeared in my spam folder. I’m seeing this quite a bit. I’ve been advised to suggest you check if this is happening with your comments on other posts and if so, raise it with the Happiness Engineers

  2. I think that being grown up means leaving behind the freedom you enjoy when you are a child. Freedom of daring, freedom of playing and freedom of having fun above all. The consequent of all that is that we lose our creative by giving privilege to structured behaviour. Interesting and funny post Brenda!

  3. Perhaps we assume that being grown up means one generalized level of behavior along with thoughtful maturity. Maybe being grown up doesn’t have to be that? Maybe it can be defined individually rather than shoving everyone into the same “shoe box” with the expectation that we all perform in the same way? Society has so many boxes that it likes to put people into I think.

    Love the shoe story Brenda! I remember being a younger teen and getting a pair of white strappy sandals with heels. I thought I had arrived at full maturity, ready to take on the world. Wow, did I delude myself not realizing just how far I still had to go 😉

    • Hi Deb. I think you’re spot on with society’s expectations that we all conform to being in a particular way; but I think we’re starting to rebel against that a little – we don’t accept things just because we’re told that’s how it should be.

      I’m glad you loved the story of the shoes – that you can relate. We thought we were ready to conquer the world

  4. Love this reflection on the milestones of childhood and being our whole selves. But now at 54, heels hurt my feet so badly I almost never wear them. The things we want to give back… 🙂

    • You’re so right, I’m not sure the last time I wore heels … or shoes for that matter. I spend so much time in trainers these days, although I have bought shoes with small heels 😁

  5. I love shoe boxes too! Well, any kind of storage container will do, but shoe boxes have always been the perfect place to store my collections of whatever. I never could collect sweets and treats though. I usually ate them as soon as I got them!

  6. Run through the crunchy autumn leaves….. count me in, Brenda (I can keep a watchful eye on you at the same time 😋)

    So much so relatable… to those shoe boxes, it keeps for generations it seems…my little one has that fascination.

    ” If supressing part of our character, part of our identity is a requirement of being a grown-up, then I’m not playing anymore!”… lovely this one. 🤍

  7. A shoebox filled with memories exists in the attic. Teenage years. I haven’t opened it for decades. The attic however is crazy full of dozens of bigger cardboard boxes with no idea what is within. I always see a shoebox in a movie placed in the comfortable position of being housed on the top shelf in the clothes closet. If only! Great reminiscing, reflective and rallying post to remember the child within is as relevant now as always was. Fun times dancing in the autumn leaves? Throw a double hand full into the air and see if you can catch each and every one. 😊 All the best Brenda.

  8. I think I felt all-grown-up when I started to make better decisions for myself about relationships and work, etc., which was sometime in my late 30s or early 40s. Now, at 71, I still love to rustle through leaves and do other “kid” stuff. Last week, I was in Inverness and dared to dance to Celtic music in a pub–I hope I never get too grown up to have fun and to be willing to make a fool of myself. Great post, Brenda. (P.S., I, too, love shoe-boxes to hold my treasures or to sort my socks.)

    • I loved Inverness 😁. I’m hoping to get back so I can write about the city in my blog … im going to need to live for a very long time as I want to explore the whole of Scotland… the UK, europe… the world 😆 the recent football has me craving a return to beautiful Seville too.

      Now I need to go home, decant shoes and organise my socks. What a brilliant idea

  9. Your shoe story is interesting and I am glad you cherish those days of innocence.
    To your question (title), I have an answer.
    “ I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up”.
    I have a question
    Are we trivialising, childhood by calling somebody’s behaviour as “childish”?
    What is the fun, when we grow up, losing childhood innocence?
    Most of the time we rob children’s fun moments by telling them “to grow”.
    I think we, the so called adults should accept our deficiencies, before calling ourselves as mature adults.

    • I love your questions … I agree, sometimes what we’d say is childish in an adult – a child wouldn’t behave that way. Usually they’re immature/haven’t grown up. But then we maybe need to wonder why they behave this way. May be influenced by they’re upbringing. For example, my sister is very immature, even in her 50s, but she probably behaved that way as a child too … and I think got away with it because we were told its ok , that’s just how she is – so her learned behaviours were condoned

  10. I still enjoy a romp in the autum leaves. I never really had a strong feel to be “grown up.” I was thrilled to have my 20th birthday. I hated being a teenager. I guess that is as close to wanting to be grown up as I ever got.

  11. I remember making art projects out of shoe boxes. I think I wanted to grow up so fast because the adults got to make their own rules and set their own bedtimes. I was very jealous of that. lol. Now that I’m older I go to bed with my childhood bedtime! Guess I’m not grown up anymore.

  12. We spend so much of our childhood talking/thinking/wishing/planning for what we want to be when we grow up….then in our ‘adultness’ long for those carefree days. One of my favorite ‘grown’ memories was going out for a walk in the rain with a roommate, and splashing in puddles. Why should kids have all the fun?

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