I Don’t Want to Grow Up: From a Guy’s Point of View

What does growing up mean for a man? For some, it can mean conforming to a life defined by others. However, many thirty- to forty-something men have shunned conforming because it translates into being required to live someone else’s life. Growing old (or up) may be interpreted as “the end of life as you know it.” This can feel like a death sentence to those who watched their fathers model a stoic work ethic while their lives seem to evaporate.

Do we resist responsibility to avoid becoming what we didn’t like about our parents? Add to that a culture in which many thirty-somethings are the bystanders of divorce, witnessing their family units shatter. It is no wonder why some men hesitate to follow the life choices of men they observed during early childhood.

There is also an extra component today in American society. We have lost the presence of “traditional rites of passage.” These celebrations served to benchmark the season of transition from boyhood to manhood. They indicated the end of one era and the beginning of something new, typically the undertaking of greater responsibility for self and others. Today, our culture is more tolerant of age and allows “me-time” as opposed to enforcing the once-mandated script of how one should live with celebrations marking when they should progress to the next phase of responsibility and accountability.

Perhaps putting off the inevitable causes today’s young men to limit their exposure to events that shape and create their future potential. So as to not live by an imposed script, One may argue that “time allows the realization” of one’s dreams. The rub herein may be the question of how one moves forward if he or she remains in a nonconformist stance? What is the likely level of accountability that we realistically impose on ourselves? Experience tells us that people require some degree of structure for success.

For human beings, a natural progression is to create. Most of us need to connect in order to create. People need one another for fulfillment. In fact, the greater the involvement, the more productive one becomes. The more experiences one has and fulfills, the greater the desire for such experiences. What then occurs is a greater possibility of receiving these experiences. Responsibility does not need to be heavy or tarnish the things we create. The time is always now. Life happens when you get off the couch. Could it be that responsibility is not the dirty word we were led to believe? Responsibility is truly an opportunity to respond differently.

If growing up still sounds like giving in, perhaps there is more emphasis on the fear of the unknown. Fear of failure can lead to doubt and restrict our growth. The idea of failure is unsettling; therefore, a great argument can be made for not trying new depths or uncharted waters. It is as if there is a comfort zone identified early on, and the idea of leaving that zone to branch out and take risks is like nails on a chalkboard.

Over time, that comfort zone can become barren and echo the aches of solitude.

So remember it is not growing old it is growing into an empowered way of being that will propel you forward! Don’t become afraid of what you don’t know. Grow into it!

Matt Jackson & Patricia Bonelli

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