Refusing to Grow Up

"It's time to grow up" has to be one among the sentences I hate to hear the most.

The reason is simple: anyone who says this out loud is, more often than not, either (1) does not care about you at all; or (2) trying to take advantage of you.

My first recollection of hearing this phrase is probably some time during high school. Because in the environment where I grew up, high school is a period where you are supposed to just be studying. You are supposed to "graduate" from and "grow out" of what you were doing before -- games, hobbies, whatever. Socialization does not matter, and God forbid anyone dares to talk about romance. Conflicts between classmates are also just a distraction. You need to "grow up" if you ever got caught in games, doing your hobbies, hanging out with classmates, or advocating for yourself against someone else. No, as they say, these "do not matter". Your goal is to get to a college, and that is all your life should and will be about.

Yes, this is all "for your own success", technically. I wouldn't put it among those that try to take advantage of you, but it is definitely among the ranks of "we don't actually care about you". Now imagine you are at work, you have to do ridiculous hours, and somehow even after all that all the rest of work for your team still falls on you. Or you are uncomfortable with some unethical behavior your company might be involved in. You try to talk to people, you make complaints, only to be told to "grow up", because yes adults should just do the work and never complain. Work is a place to make money, and if you disagree with your higher-ups -- managers, CEOs, investors -- you should just shut up and leave.

I am not saying that there is no such thing as childish behavior. There most definitely are -- impulsivity, lack of self-control and rationality -- and if you really struggle with these, you may need some professional help. What I am saying however is that when people tell you to "grow up", it is almost never because of these very real problems some people may have -- and for them, saying "you need to grow up" in an aggressive way is never of real help anyway. No, when people tell someone else to "grow up", it is either to ignore their needs or opinions, or to flat out keep taking advantage of them and somehow make them feel guilty of not being an adult at the same time.

The phrase "growing up" itself is taken to mean a lot of things, and I cannot help but feel that it is now overwhelmingly to refer to losing something we used to have as a child. If growing up means giving up dreams, forgetting how to have fun, forgoing friendship and even basic kindness, stop believing in justice, then what good is it, after all? Is it to fit in an environment where one is not meant to fit in the first place?

The conclusion I came to after all this is that I refuse to "grow up" in the way people expect. This is not to say clinging on to childish behavior -- after all, we all have to survive -- but not completely letting go of the child inside of myself. Oftentimes, that little kid is going to be able to tell true and false, or right and wrong, much better than millions of adults can.

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