When did you know that you were grown-grown? I don’t mean grown. I mean grown-grown. Only people who are actually grown-grown, know exactly what I’m talking about.
As I journey to 56, I can’t help but look back and reflect on the road that got me to this point. When I was 17 and moved to Boston for college, I thought I was grown. Chronologically, I suppose I was. I was a high school graduate and I wasn’t under my parent’s roof, however, they were still paying the bills and responsible for me albeit from afar. Less than two years later, I was back under their roof.
Clearly, I was not grown.
When I was 20 I once again moved out of my parent’s house and into my own apartment. Surely, I was grown then. I was working two jobs, I had my own car and my name on a lease. I was absolutely an adult – but grown? I don’t think so.
I define being grown as a person who is an adult who manages their life in a responsible way. I define being grown-grown as a person who is not only an adult who manages their life in a responsible way but also manages to do it after experiencing trauma or adversity.
So, at 20, I was absolutely an adult. But I was not managing my life in a responsible way. I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was already in debt because when I was in college I applied for and received a bunch of store credit cards that were already maxed out. I had no idea what my credit looked like because my mind wasn’t even thinking about a credit report. I was just skipping through life making one mistake after another pretending to be grown. The hole that I was digging for myself was getting deeper and deeper and it would take almost two decades to get out.
Still not grown.
At 25, I married the first wrong man.
At 26, I gave birth to my son.
At 29, I married the second wrong man.
At 30, I gave birth to my daughter.
At 37, I was twice divorced with two small children, making very little money and trying to figure out how I was going to stand on my own two feet.
At this point, I was grown.
At 38, I bought my first home and when I got those keys and moved my little family in – I knew that I was grown-grown. My focus was no longer on me and pretending to be grown. Every mistake and misstep had brought me to this point and I was still standing. I was still strong and getting stronger every single day. My focus was on making a good life for my children. My focus was on survival and doing everything in my power to make sure that we did survive. And we did. Now we are thriving.