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Growing Old Is Easy, Growing up Is Painful

Growing Old Is Easy, Growing up Is Painful

Ever since we have been able to think, we’ve been looking towards the future. We imagine how we will look when we grow up, the sort of people we are going to become. Without even knowing it, we set these expectations for ourselves because everything seems possible. From a young age we hear time and time again, “you can do anything that you set your mind to.” Untainted by the harshness of the world, we believe it.

The idea of growing older whispers promises of freedom. At this age you’ll be able to drive, at that age you’ll be able to vote. Eventually you’ll go on to pursue a career or a particular lifestyle. You think that when you’re older, you can be whoever you want. As a child I was always very fond of drumming and always wanted to be a drummer. But I was told it’s better for me to focus on my study before I pursue my passion in music. So I knew that I had to wait until I was bigger to be the self-proclaimed drummer I longed to be.

But as we do start to get older, those who have been facing adulthood long before us warn us to enjoy our youth. Take advantage of the freedom that we have now. Freedom? But we thought freedom came with adulthood; when we make the choices for our future. That is because we romanticize the idea of growing older, not growing up. Advantages come with age, but so do responsibility. Sadly, we don’t know until it comes.

Growing old doesn’t always mean growing up

So why the rush? What makes us want to skip ahead in time? The imaginary privilege and advantage I guess.

While we’re young, adults seem to have it all. Throughout growing up we are told to abide by certain restrictions based on our age, such as drinking coffee or dying our hair. There is no actual law stating this, but social norms dictate how old you must be for certain practices.

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Then there are the benchmarks that are dictated by law for certain practices such as gambling, drinking, or driving. Unable to do this at our own free will while “under-aged” we long for a time when we are in charge of our choices.

Growing up should be defined by experience, not age

Let’s face it. Adulthood sucks, and we all know it. How did it get this way? Where did we go wrong? The truth is, adulthood seems to such because the expectation does not match the reality.

Growing up is different than growing old, because getting old is inevitable. The presence of maturity brought on the wisdom and experience is what signifies growing up. Your experiences have shaped you, define the person that you are, and the person you continue to grow into. Maturity is defined by the way how you perceive experiences, how you react to them, self-reflection after the fact, and the way that you carry on after the fact.

Any obstacle or experience is a chance to shape yourself. You only have two choices really, let the outcome make you a stronger, better person; or let it break you. Face responsibility, and sort out a solution. These are actions of a grown-up individual.

The idea “we can do more when we are older” is just an illusion

Just like realizing Santa Clause isn’t real (spoiler alert) we grow up to realize that adulthood really isn’t all that it’s hopped up to be. It’s a hard knock life. Instead of freedom, we get restrictions, lots of it. There are tons of rules and social standards to abide by as an adult; and we are vulnerable to judgment if we dismiss these standards.

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In the working world, you are not judged by who you are as an adult. Instead you are judged by how adult you are. Are you responsible? Organized? Punctual? Articulate? You need to appear and sound like you have it all together. And the older we get, the more responsibilities and expectations get thrown at us. The best part? No one is going to help or show you the way.

You’re an adult, figure it out.

No one really knows how to “adult”

When it comes to adulting, no one really knows what they’re doing. We are all just trying our best. Many people appear to be really good at it, but deep down they are probably questioning themselves as well. The best we can do is ask for advice from our wiser, older friends and family. No one can really tell you what to do in any given situation, but they can only tell you what they would do. We all want something different out of life, therefore we all make different decisions to support our cause. We spend our whole lives trying to figure it out, taking chances and hoping for the best.

Growing up is similar to parenting. No one is ready, and no one really knows what they’re doing. As you grow, you realize all of the corny anecdotes your parents tortured you with hold some truth. You’re actually very much like them. The older you get, the more you start to respect your parents and realize that they are just people doing the best that they can do.

You really need to make time for the things you want to do.

Otherwise they’re not going to happen. Don’t keep telling yourself, “when you get older.” Cause eventually you will realize that time has escaped you, and all you have left are your dreams. The more you age, the faster time seems to go. That is because your time is already consumed.

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Let’s say that you sleep for 8 hours a night, work 8 hours a day. Let’s omit 3 hours for eating, commuting, and showering. Now, you are only left with 5 hours of your day. You’re not as young as you used to be, and you might not feel so energized and motivated to pursue your own interests. It’s difficult to find the time to do the things that interest you when you have a set routine. Don’t rely on a promise of the future. You need to make the time for it now.

Nobody is thinking about you (or that meme you shared).

Now that we’re older, we are consumed by responsibilities. We all are. And that’s why most people are incredibly self-focused. Because we have to be. Times are very different when we were just teenagers, when we had all of the time in the world to just hang around and gossip.

We don’t have the freedom to be so carefree as we age. We have ourselves to look after. Those of us who have spouses and children have even more obligations. “Hanging out” is no longer a priority, instead it’s been replaced with goals and responsibilities. Our attention is directed towards more worldly matters as displayed on the news and the media. Most people share the same opinions and interests as us, so we tend to lose interest in those people and their lives.

Adulthood is a grey area, there is no right and wrong

Life is very straightforward as a child. Adults are constantly telling us the difference between right and wrong. But as we grow up, things are not unidirectional. And things that you may have grown up to believe start to show another side to them. There are two sides to every opinion or fact, and we have to choose which side we stand on.

Example: You are raised to believe the C02 emissions are bad, and very detrimental to the environment. While the former is true, we struggle to have reliable transportation without it. For your information, this conflict is known as Cognitive Dissonance.

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Working for your dream= 99% suffering + 1% chance to succeed

When we’re young, it’s so easy to picture ourselves exactly where we want to be. Our parents and teachers encourage us to chase these dreams because of the benefits. If we decide to be a doctor, then we get to save lives. If we decide to be an architect, we can design beautiful buildings and bridges so people can travel and live comfortably.

What they don’t tell you is how hard it is to achieve these dreams. It takes tons of work and self-sacrifice, and in the end might not work out. This is the part that adults like to leave out. What they should tell us, is that if we want to be a doctor then we need to study super hard, no holidays, you need to work shifts in the hospital while you study which makes it very difficult to maintain a work/life balance. And worst of all, you can’t save all of your patients.

These days we can’t blame ourselves for giving up so easily. We were led to believe that if we wanted someone hard enough it would be ours, but we were never shown how to work for it. We were never told how much suffering comes along with chasing a dream.

Growing old is easy, but growing up is painful

To be the best person you can be, you need to experience as much as you can. Take those experiences, and let them shape you into being stronger, smarter, and better. Things are going to constantly blindside you, so learn to adapt. Keep your mind open, always be receptive to more knowledge. The moment that you stop learning is the moment that you stop growing.

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 28, 2019

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

Admit it, you feel good when other people think you’re nice. Maybe you were complimented by a stranger saying that you had a nice outfit. You felt good about yourself and you were happy for the rest of the day.

    We all like to feel liked, whether by a stranger or a loved one. It makes you feel valued and that feeling can be addictive. But when the high wears off and you no longer have validation that someone thinks you’re a good, sweet person, you may feel insecure and lacking. While wanting others to like you isn’t in itself a bad thing, it can be like a disease when you feel that you constantly need to be liked by others.

    Humans are wired to want to be liked.

    It’s human nature to seek approval from others. In ancient times, we needed acceptance to survive. Humans are social animals and we need to bond with others and form a community to survive. If we are not liked by others, we will be left out.

    Babies are born to be cute and be liked by adults.

      The large rounded head, big forehead, large eyes, chubby cheeks, and a rounded body. Babies can’t survive without an adult taking care of them. It’s vital for adults to find babies lovely to pay attention to them and divert energy towards them.[1]

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      Recognitions have always been given by others.

        From the time you were a child, whether at school or at home, you have been receiving recognition from external parties. For instance, you received grades from teachers, and if you wanted something, you needed approval from your parents. We’ve learned to get what we want by catering to other people’s expectations. Maybe you wanted to get a higher grade in art so you’d be more attentive in art classes than others to impress your teacher. Your teacher would have a generally good impression on you and would likely to give you a higher grade.

        When you grow up, it’s no different. Perhaps you are desperate to get your work done so you do things that your manager would approve. Or maybe you try to impress your date by doing things they like but you don’t really like.

        Facebook and Instagram have only made things worse. People posting their photos and sharing about their life on Instagram just to feels so good to get more likes and attention.

        Being liked becomes essential to reaching desires.

          We start to get hyper focused on how others see us, and it’s easy to imagine having the spotlight on you at all time. People see you and they take an interest in you. This feels good. In turn, you start doing more things that bring you more attention. It’s all positive until you do something they don’t like and you receive criticism. When this happens, you spiral because you’ve lost the feeling of acceptance.

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          But the reality is this is all just perception. Humans, as a species, are selfish. We are all just looking at ourselves; we only perceive others are giving us their focus. Even for those who please others are actually focusing on making themselves feel good. It’s like an optical illusion for your ego.

            The desire to be liked is an endless chase.

              Aiming to please others in order to feel better will exhaust you because you can never catch up with others’ expectation.

              The ideal image will always change.

              It used to be ideal to have a fair weight, a little bit fat was totally acceptable. Then it’s ideal to be very slim. Recently we’ve seen “dad-bods” getting some positive attention. But this is already quickly changing. In fact, a recent article from Men’s Health asked 100 women if they would date a guy who had a dad-bod, about 50% of women claimed to not care either way, only 15% exclusively date men with a “dad bod”.[2]

              People’s expectations on you can be wrong.

              Most people put their expectations on others based on what’s right in the social norms, yet the social norms are created by humans in which 80% of them are just ordinary people according to the 80/20 rules.[3]

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              Think about it, every day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you filter what you believe to be truth. If someone compliments you, you take it and add it to an idea of what the best version of yourself is. When someone criticizes you, even in a destructive way, you might accept it altogether, or add it to a list of things you’re insecure about. When you absorb the wrong opinion from others, you will either sabotage your self-esteem or overestimate yourself by accepting all the good compliments and stop growing; or accepting all the destructive criticisms and sabotage your own self-esteem and happiness.

              Others’ desires are not the same as yours.

                If you live your life as one long effort of trying to please other people, you will never be happy. You’re always going to rely on others to make you feel worth living. This leads to total confusion when it comes to your personal goals; when there’s no external recognition, you don’t know what to live for.

                The only person to please is yourself.

                  Think of others’ approval as fuel and think of yourself as a car. When that fuel runs out, you can’t function. This is not a healthy mindset.

                  In reality, we’re human and we can create our own fuel. You can feel good based on how much you like yourself. When you do things to make you like yourself more, you can start to see a big change in your opinion. For example, if being complimented by others made you feel good and accepted, look in the mirror and compliment yourself. Say what you wish others would say about you.

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                  Internal approval takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. You have to re-train your own mind. Think of the dog who knows there is food when the bell rings, the reflex is hard wired into the dog.[4] We need our own triggers to reinforce the habit of internal approval too. Recognize yourself every day instead of waiting for people to do it for you, check out in this article the steps to take to recognize your own achievements and gain empowerment: Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

                  Notice that when you start to focus on yourself and what to do to make yourself happy, others may criticize you. Since you’ve stopped trying to please others to meet their expectations, they may judge you for what you do. Be critical about what they say about you. They aren’t always right but so are you. Everyone has blind spots. Let go of biased and subjective comments but be humble and open to useful advice that will improve you.

                  Remember that you are worth it, every day. It will take time to stop relying on others to make you feel important and worth something, but the sooner you start trying, the happier and healthier you will be.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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