I am in the midst of preparing an essay for a contest with the theme "the day I grew up." I've been racking my brain, conjuring up old memories, to get to that one realization that defined the end of my childhood and the beginning of my adult life. Trouble was I couldn't think of any one moment. It seemed to happen gradually - actually, I think I'm still in the midst of that transition. Or at least I thought I was until today.
Two events happened to me today that signaled to me that I had turned the corner - leaving my childish insecurity and lack of confidence behind, tossing it off in favor of the confidence and self-assurance I have always admired in adults. I recognize that it's odd that it would take me 33 years of living to make the leap. Better late than never.
Event one: I was told that I may have to stop writing, or at the very least have my writing approved and heavily edited, if I am to continue my association with an organization that I am currently involved with. It seems that they think my writing reflects upon them, even if I'm writing about a subject entirely unrelated to them.
That means that this blog would go silent and that my Examiner.com column would grind to a halt, just as I am finding my own voice and rhythm. I would have to stop doing the one activity I love most in the world - writing - because someone else demanded it. Without a second thought I decided that if I cannot have my writing life and be associated with that organization, then that organization would cease to be a part of my life. As a child, if my mother told me to stop jumping on the bed, I stopped jumping on the bed. As an adult, I won't stop doing something I love because someone else say I have to.
Event two: I was asked to put my name on a request that I cannot support because "that's the way it's always been done." Even though the request doesn't make any sense, and everyone involved with the request agrees it doesn't make sense, I was still being asked to push it forward. I will admit that I got a bit exasperated. My emotions got the best of me. I'm a passionate person.
As if someone was asking me to dishonor my name and my sense of judgment for the sake of being compliant to a rule I disagree with, I was handed the dare: say yes, even though you disagree, or face the consequences. A child would flinch at the thought of the consequences. I chose the consequences. I know the value of my name and judgment, and they're worth so much to me that I'd rather suffer any consequences that their defense may trigger.
When I was a kid, I always imagined that growing up would be this phenomenal achievement. It would be a welcome release. And it is, sort of. But it's a little lonely, too. Today, I shut some doors. I made a few decisions that cannot be undone. And while I am confident that they are the right decisions for me to make, those doors are still a little painful to shut. It means there's one less avenue, one less path to take to wherever it is my life is headed.
It's almost as if I didn't even make the choices in the two events today. The world made them for me. It handed me a set of circumstances, already knowing which direction I'd take, in order to push me forward. Fate's a funny thing. On one hand, it's comforting to know that the world has something in store for us that's far better than anything we can dream up on our own. On the other hand, we have to cede control to a grander plan that we don't entirely know. One thing is for certain: in order to grow up we have to let go of all the "might-have-been's" to focus on the "all-that-will be's".