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Growing Up Slowly
One of the most disturbing realizations of growing up is that there’s no sharp line dividing being a child from being an adult. As a kid, you tend to think of adults as a different species, like a little Charmander evolving into a magnificent Charizard complete with new abilities, new freedoms, new ways of thinking and acting. Then you grow up, and you realize you’ve just become an older, fatter Pikachu.
Sure, you are (hopefully) a little maturer, a little wiser, a little more responsible, a little more capable, but you are essentially the same person you were as a kid. I’ve grown, and you could probably spot plenty of differences if you put me beside my 16-year-old self, but I can’t pinpoint the moment much of anything changed. Most days I still feel like a kid, except all the adults in my life have gotten older. I’m level 35, still waiting on that evolution.
That’s the way growing up works, though, isn’t it? We mark the milestones, the sports teams and the drivers licenses, the first cars and the first kisses and the first drinks, the graduations and promotions, the marriages and births, repeating for each generation. That only applies to the past and the future. We celebrate the birthday, but you don’t feel any different when you wake up than when you went to sleep. It’s like writing history. You can look back on (or forward to) big moments, the turning points, but they may not feel like much at the time. Because history, like life, is not a series of big events. It’s a succession of ordinary days.
You grow up not by reaching some some arbitrary age or experiencing some important event. Being 18 doesn’t make you an adult in anything but the legal code. I can assure you first hand that getting married does not make you any more mature. You age very slowly, day-by-day, minute-by-minute, as the body carries out its normal functions a billion times over. You mature very slowly, with each of the countless decisions you make every day. The way you spend your time, the people you interact with, the things you read and watch, the priorities you set, all determine the path of your growth.
It’s a relief, honestly. You don’t have to wait for the pressure of a big moment to take a change. The milestones are how you measure growth, like mark of your height on the doorframe, not how you actually grow. And you don’t have to change who you are. You don’t need to evolve into some magical new creature or restart your entire life. You will still feel like the same kid, 35 years later, that you’ve always been. All it takes is a small change to your daily habits, a little discipline to make better decisions, a reorientation in a slightly different direction and the will to stay on the path through all the many detours. You’ll end up as a mature, responsible (relatively) adult with kids who see you as one of those strange and mythical beings, an adult, and who are still surprised to learn that, after all these years, you still know how to play Pokémon.