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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.