How many of us feel this way?
Teenagers, so desperate to be mature, try on new styles, trends, and personas in their attempts at growing up quickly. Watching my middle school students evolve over the course of a school year crystallizes my belief that it’s all part of the process of life.
I remember one of my 8th grade students who was typically a nice, ‘normal’ type of kid- not a trouble maker, well liked, quiet in class. Over the course of a week he started acting out – being a bit disruptive, more aggressive, and walked with a bit of swagger. My teaching partner and I started noticing and became concerned. When we approached him, he smiled and said, “Oh, no worries – I’m just trying something new.” And sure enough, after a few weeks he was back to his old self.
I wonder what happens to this urgency when we hit adulthood. The desperation seems to be replaced with fear, the excitement with sadness, the hopefulness with complacency. When adults ‘try something new’ we often are accused of having a mid-life crisis; it’s no wonder that so many retreat back into their old habits, more content with the familiar than the unknown. Where is the creativity that so absolutely bursts out of a child, only to be smothered by so many logical plans in adulthood? Does it get buried deep in our souls, or does it simply evaporate in our quest for the ‘American dream’?
But in those quiet minutes before we start each day, how many of us consider this: are we growing slowly or simply standing still? Are we reaching deep for that lost self that intuitively knew to go out into the world and try? Where is the tipping point where we dip our toe into an unfamiliar location, wade into a new experience, or dive into a new part of ourselves? Are we really too old to grow?
Where are you today? What are you afraid of?