Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be...

I never wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.  I knew I was far too clumsy to dance on my toes.  In fact, when I was 4 or 5 the dance and gymnastics teacher asked my grandmother not to bring me back to class because I kept running into the other girls and squashing them.  Coordination is not one of my stronger talents.

Honestly I don't remember having a lot of "when I grow up" dreams. Don't get me wrong, I dreamed about being older, but I never made it past "graduate from college and get a job."  I really had no idea what that job was supposed to be.  In fact, I remember graduating from college with an engineering degree, landing my first job, and then realizing I had no idea what was supposed to happen next.  I had checked all the boxes I could think of.  I figured I would get married some day, and I suspected I would have children, but I really had no good idea what was supposed to happen next.

After many years of being "grown up," (My father probably laughed really hard at that statement, potentially hard enough to spit milk out his nose.) I have determined that growing up isn't a destination, but a journey.  I don't think you reach any finish line, or cross any threshold that determines you have arrived in a magical land called "grown up."  There is no bouquet of flowers or trophy sitting on a stage waiting for you. Sad, but true...

Growing up is something that happens one experience, one heartache, and one victory at a time.  It is the state we find ourselves in after we have accomplished something we didn't think we could do, or failed in a way we never thought possible.  It is what happens when we sacrifice something of ourselves for the benefit of someone else.  Growing up can be painful, but it can also be exhilarating.

The important part is taking the lessons you learned and choosing how to let them change you. There are many bitter people in this world who have let their life experiences change them into unhappy, miserable people.  Others seem to ignore their experiences and continually repeat the same mistakes.  Still others spend a little too much time dwelling in the past and forget to move forward.

I may never perform on stage in well worn toe shoes, but I can and will use the talents I have learned to present my best self to the world.  I will continue to volunteer at the school, cook dinner for my family, make beds, help friends and neighbors, contribute to my community and give back to those around me.  What I have learned while "growing up" is that none of us do this alone.  There is a long cast list of characters, with parts both large and small, that assist us in our journey, just as we assist in the journey of others.

When I grow up, I want to be...well, there isn't just one answer.  It changes every day, but for now I will settle for being a little bit better than I was yesterday.  How about you?  What do you want to be?

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