The Upside of Growing Up

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The Upside of Growing Up | Wit & Delight
Photo by Jake Nackos on Unsplash

For me, it was that wish. You know, your can’t tell or it won’t come true kind of wish. Your go-to. Happiness.

I whispered it over cakes of seven, ten, and thirteen candles; impressed it in the very first penny I threw into a shopping mall fountain; clasped it in tiny hands before bedtimes and in moments dedicated to personal prayers on your heart during church. 

I am appreciative of happiness, my at one time If you could have anything, what would you want? kind of wish. I brought it to God, to the Universe, and ultimately it grew—into my views of the world and of people, and into being. For this lens I am grateful. But for me, my wish would be different today.

I’ve been given the gift of time, a privilege which I’ve tried to learn from. On a basic level, I have more information now to work with. And I’ve learned that choices which guide wishes are based on beliefs, and beliefs grow from mindsets, and experience can change mindsets if only we let it; if we reflect, and act accordingly going forward. An upside of growing up.

Today, I don’t wish for happiness anymore, one shade of the exceedingly vibrant human experience. As it turns out, people are the biggest wishes. . . And happiness is nothing to me if it’s not giving my heart away every single day, as painful as that can be sometimes.

When we’re young, wishing is so often all about hoping and dreaming—of going out, of taking on the world that loved ones endeavored to give us. Only now, grown-up, we can affirm that wishing looking forward is the exact same when looking back. Its true value is not predicated on its actually being granted. The real power of a heartfelt wish is it’s clarifying power; it tells you what truly matters to you.

Young me once wished for happiness at a hotel pool party, surrounded by family, bathed in love. I wished it over a lit candle-topped banana birthday cake, my favorite, made for me by my grandma, whose every sentence tipped into laughter, whose every act was total joy. I wished it while family was already unfolding for me as the biggest source of happiness it would remain—the bright spot in days, the highlight of years, the light of life.

Today, I don’t wish for happiness anymore, one shade of the exceedingly vibrant human experience. As it turns out, people are the biggest wishes—and the most colorful filters—I know. And happiness is nothing to me if it’s not giving my heart away every single day, as painful as that can be sometimes.

Because an upside of growing up is learning that happiness and pain are two sides of the same coin. It’s loving people who forever change as you do. And it’s growing up together, even while without life’s experiences you would have thought you were inherently separate.

An upside of growing up is recognizing that you were always in pieces. At this point you will have battled this off, fought falling apart, as if you were ever some semblance of whole. When all along, growing up, eyes wide, taking everything in, you were collecting the pieces that one day you realize have become you. Sayings and sunbeams. Hug lines by the kitchen sink. Grown-up is when all of the pieces fit together, within yourself and with others, and you can finally see how important each piece was. How beautiful and awe-inspiring the big picture.

An upside of growing up is recognizing that you were always in pieces. . . . When all along, growing up, eyes wide, taking everything in, you were collecting the pieces that one day you realize have become you.

The upside of growing up comes outside of your hopes and dreams playing out, crashing down all around you, or evolving. It’s beyond all of the devastation, beyond even the floating with happiness once again. The upside of growing up is in the act of actually experiencing, awestruck and grateful, as your life and love beams up all around you, more radiant and expansive than you could ever have imagined. So much bigger than any wish, even that one, and definitely nothing that ever wouldn’t come true.

BY Bre Arends - June 19, 2020

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Julie

This was amazing. After losing my Dad, I reflect these words, wholeheartedly. Thank you.

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