Why We Disagree with Peter Pan and Avril Lavigne

by Maggie Griffin

Or...why growing up isn't all that bad.

As I get ready in the mornings and undo all that the day has done, washing my face, and taking out my eyes at night, I am beginning to see a new face in the mirror. A face that is subtly aging appears. I am not talking about lines or spots or new marks and colors appearing just yet, though same day I will. I am 22 years young.  The aging I detect is about the way I look at myself and whom I perceive the image staring back to be, or rather, whom I perceive my mirror image is becoming.

This past year has no doubt been my biggest year of growth in maturity and wisdom, though I am not proclaiming to be wise. I once thought the wisdom from books of courses past and lingering thoughts of classroom lectures would accumulate in a 4 year growth pattern, only to be slowed after graduation and my immediate entry into "the real world." I was sure the real world would provide me with lessons, but doubted that they would be comparable to those of my college years. Could learning about filing taxes on my own (something I still don't do), or budgeting, or dealing with things without a call to mom and dad really compare to those lessons from Aristotle's and Plato's ethics, to critical thinking and writing skills, to cultural and anthropological studies? No. But I had compared learning in the classroom against a false understanding of what being a growing person, my alternative classification of grown-up,  in the real world was.

Grown up is a stagnant term. It offers a sense of being done, learning and living over. I shall never be a grown up, for what my 4 years taught me and imparted to me was a love of learning, of experiencing new things, places, ideas, people. My new life graph shows an exponential learning curve. And the face that looks back at me in the mirror shall subtly age with the new things this growing person is learning everyday. I shall give a nod to Peter Pan and Avril Lavigne's new hit, because it is true that grown up life does not look fun, but to still have the childlike curiosity and approach to life--no boundaries, limitless exploration possibilities--while aging and experiencing each new decade of life is not scary at all.

Byron and I are growing up. And we are happy about it. Not scared. Not anxious. Though much will come our way that we are unsure of, we will continue to learn, and think, and mature, our faces changing as we go, our reflections reminding us of our great adventures. We shall never be grown ups, but we will appreciate and embrace the process of aging.