How Can I Get Over Fear of Growing Up?

The first two are about how you feel pressured. Are you getting that pressure from other people, or is it coming from inside of you? As to the first one, the ability to act silly and childlike is something that will serve you well all your life. As to the second, why must you achieve those goals by a particular date? Do you think it’s “normal” or required?

As to the third thing, you’re predicting how you’re going to feel in the future. Beware of this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. FWIW, some of the sexiest women I ever met were in their mid-40s. And they still hadn’t figured out what they want to be when they grow up.

As to the fourth, I think it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others. I used to know a woman who, in her 40s, was living a happy life in the city, living in an apartment with her boyfriend, and loving it. She and her boyfriend got a lot of pressure from their families to get married, buy a house in the country, and make babies. You know. “Normal” things that “normal” people do. They ended up doing all of those things, and they ended up miserable.

The point of that is that some people think that there is only one path to happiness, and everyone must be on that path. Is that some of the pressure you’re feeling? Hypothetically, if you didn’t have to do any of that stuff, would you fear the future as much?

@ even sven, thanks for responding!

Funny you mentioned the The Feeling Good Handbook. I just started reading it 3 days ago. I haven’t gotten far enough in the book and did enough of the exercises enough times for it to really have any effect on my outlook. Oh, and none of my siblings are thrilled about getting older either; though I’m sure it doesn’t bother them as much as it bothers me. We all feel like the years went by way too fast and wish we were younger. But again, it probably doesn’t upset them the way it upsets me.

I like how you made the comparison between an active 60yr old and a distant, closed off 20 yr old. It’s funny because I’ve known 50+ yr olds who have more excitement in their lives than I (really rediculous). But part of me still doesn’t truly understand how a 40+ could really enjoy life being the age they are.

Dude, being a grown-up is awesome. If I want to quit my job and move across the country tomorrow I can do that. If I want to eat ice cream for dinner tonight I can do that. If I want to convert to a different religion or sell my car or let the dishes sit in the sink overnight while I watch reruns of The Simpsons I can do that. I have, in fact, done every single one of those things since graduating from college. When I decided that I would be happier in New York than I was in Dallas and I told my mom I was moving she tried to dissuade me, tried to convince me that I would be happier in Texas, etc. and none of it mattered because where I lived wasn’t her decision to make any longer.

If you don’t want to have kids then don’t have kids. If you don’t want to work in the corporate world then get a job where you don’t sit at a desk all day. If you want to drink Hawaiian Punch straight out of the bottle with a big curly straw by all means knock yourself out. Yes, the freedoms of adulthood come with the responsibility of taking care of yourself but that is a really small price to pay. All that pressure you feel to do this or that or the other thing? Ignore it. No one has to live your life but you and you only get one shot at it so you might as well do what makes you happy.

If you feel like you don’t have the ability to be happy then you may want to see a therapist, but if you are just worried about the "should"s and "shouldn’t"s of growing up just calm down a little bit and do what makes you happy instead of worrying what everyone else thinks should make you happy.

It’s really not so different than enjoying life at 20+. Except you get to do it with more money, more confidence, more experience, and less drama.

Go find some 40-year-olds and ask them how they feel about their lives. This is not a hypothetical: I’m serious, go and do this. Relatives, college instructors, relatives of friends…ask them, and you will get real answers.

If you’ve known 50YO’s with fulfilling lives, why do you feel this to be incomprehensible for 40YO’s?

I’m almost 33 and I feel like an 18 yo stuck in a 33 year old body with a bad back. It sucks. But on to your points.

  1. Stop doing that to yourself. The only time you really need to be serious and mature is on your job and in money matters. Even at the job you don’t always have to be in “adult mode”. My coworkers (mid 40s and 50s) and I still joke around and goof on each other.

  2. I went through that feeling a lot too and sometimes I still do but I can usually talk myself out of it now. That feeling is what made me ask a girl to marry me when I really did not want to be married yet. I was in my early twenties and out of school and normally the next step is marriage and kids so that’s why I asked when I knew I didn’t want to yet. We divorced a year later because we were both not mature enough to handle all the weight and responsibility of being married. Thankfully we did not have any kids.

  3. Who cares. The only person who need concern themselves with your looks is you.

  4. My brother who is two years older than me has been married for eight years and has a seven year old kid. I envy their lives sometimes because I would like to be married and have kids someday and I can see the joy my nephew brings to his life. Other times I see the hassle and frustration he goes through in trying to raise the kid into a good person.

Right now I am single and just trying to enjoy the freedom of it.

@ **tdn **and Mobius, thanks again for responding!

But to answer both of yall’s questions… Most of this “pressure” I speak of is coming from within me, I guess. I compare my life to other people too much. Most of the people I went to school with have their own families, now. So I feel like I should too. I feel like I need to have kids before a certain age because as a woman, I won’t be able to produce kids forever.

I hate being around mature looking or acting people. They make me feel like an immature kid. And it doesn’t help that I look about 5yrs younger than my real age.

And no, if I didn’t have to do any of this “stuff” I wouldn’t fear getting older lol.

For what it’s worth, I’ve known a few women 20 years your senior who had their first children at that age.

But anyway, why do you feel like you need to keep up with your friends? Do you think that your life needs to mirror those?

One of the best benefits to growing older is realizing that you can live your own life.

All of your concerns read like external pressures you’ve internalized. Just be.
As long as you’re able to take care of yourself, you can be as immature as you like.

And stop counting. Seriously, I have to do math when someone asks me how old I am.
I will tell you that it gets easier to not give a fuck as you grow older.

Your mental age is only as old as you want it to be. Well that might not be completely true, but I am like your parents, approaching 50. But I personally don’t feel any different than I did from when I was approaching 30. Sure I’m about 10 pounds heavier, know a ton more than I did back then, but my approach to life and living and having fun is no different. Back then I had no kids, and I now have three at varying ages.

Life is not about clocking the passage of time, it’s about the journey and who you meet along the way, new and old. Don’t stress about it, embrace it.

This is your problem. I did the same thing at your age. My high school French teacher told me that “these are the best days of your life” and I burst into tears because if it’s really all downhill after high school, why bother? Relate?

Another (decent) teacher saw my crying and sat me down and told me that French teacher is a bitter old hag who hates her life and I shouldn’t listen to her. Wise woman. She gave me the advice I’m about to give to you.

Sit down and figure out exactly what you want your life to look like. Don’t get married and have kids unless you want to get married and have kids. Don’t do anything because other people are and it just seems like the thing to do next. Do things because you want to do them. Do your homework before you make big decisions and make the best decisions you can. And remember that there are do-overs in Real Life. You do get second chances. Nearly every stupid terrible poorly thought out decision I’ve ever made has been reparable to some degree. Very few mistakes completely and totally ruin the rest of your life forever. One of the best parts about being a grown up is you get to change your mind.

It gets better. I promise. There are some things that suck about being a grownup (like no Spring Break, no summers off, most people have to go to work every day), but there are so many things that are completely freaking awesome about being a grown up… if I had the chance, I’d go back to my high school French class and punch that stupid teacher right in her pointy little boob. She was dead wrong.

It gets better.

I want to address this bit right here, because it’s a nuanced distinction.

There’s a difference between having fun and being immature. It’s the difference between being childlike and being childish. Being mature, to me, is about having the emotional intelligence to handle problems without throwing a tantrum, knowing that your actions have consequences, and not needing to hurt others in order to feel better about yourself. It does not mean having to be serious about everything all the time.

I’ve met plenty of people, of all ages, who are serious about everything and yet are not mature.

This. God, yes, this. Never, ever, do anything because it seems like the thing to do next.

Also, don’t do things because you’re scared of the alternative.

I went to grad school in astronomy because it seemed like the next thing to do, and I was scared of the Real World™. This was a boneheaded move.

Especially do not get married because “you don’t want to be alone”, or because other people expect you to get married. I didn’t do this, but from what I’ve seen, it’s a good way to be miserable.

If thinking of doing something makes you miserable, don’t do it, if at all possible. No matter how much everybody expects you to do it, or how awkward the explanations of why you’re not doing it might be.

What she’s going through is worse than being punched in the boobs. She feels that her life has already peaked and there’s nothing she can do about it. She probably doesn’t like her job and doesn’t think there’s anything she can do about that. She has abandoned all hope that things could be better, just like the sign above the entrance to Dante’s Inferno encouraged people to do.

Don’t do that. For one thing, it makes you miserable, except when you compare yourself to really obvious losers. For another, you can’t really get an accurate first-person view of anyone else’s life. How you see someone else’s life and how they experience their life might be totally different. Probably are, in fact.

There will come a day when you will be glad of this, if it’s still true.

I’m so glad someone said this, because I was going to say the same thing. I had a fear of growing up myself that I grappled with for a few years. I’m not sure it’s quite the same thing, but for me it really boiled down to a concept I had in my mind that I was forced to get older, getting older means I have to grow up, growing up means I have to be responsible and give up on the beauty and wonder of childhood. I remember having a lot of conversations about it, and people trying to explain it to me, and though I understood it at an intellectual level, I didn’t get at an emotional or spiritual level. But at one point, someone was castigating me for being childish, and someone stepped to my defense with something very close to that, and ultimately they agreed that I was indeed not childish.

Anyway, for me, I did do a fair bit of work on it, though not with a psychologist, and once it finally clicked with me, I can generally handle “adult” situations maturely and seriously, then flip a switch and have a blast being a “child” playing with toys or watching cartoons or just maintain that wonder with the world. It was really just truly, deeply understanding that there’s nothing about getting older that means I have to change who I am. Sure, I need to take on some additional responsibilities, but it’s not an all or nothing sort of deal.

What’s really depressing is when your children are all in their fifties!

**How Can I Get Over Fear of Growing Up? **

I thought it was just me!

-MIS!, age 22

I found this article surprisingly insightful about this very topic.

Edit: This one, too.

  1. Meh, so long as the bills are paid, the dishes are washed, and the toilet’s been cleaned in the last few weeks, feel free to sit around in your Spongebob undies watching My Little Pony cartoons and eating Sugar Pops. Or bouncing around in a reindeer antler headband. Or walking down the sidewalk pretending to be an airplane. If anybody has a problem with that, the appropriate response is this: Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt. Bonus points if you stick your thumbs in your ears and waggle your fingers.

  2. Yeah, that’s crap. It doesn’t matter when or if you get married or have kids, provided you’re doing it because it’s really, truly what you want and not something you feel like you should want. Doing things that aren’t what you want because it seems like what you ought to want is the surest route to misery.

  3. Well, I was never what you’d call a ravishing beauty to start with, so I don’t really feel I’ve lost much by aging. I still have my good features and my less-good features, and my husband still looks at me the way he did when we were 19.

  4. Yeah, but that’s a good thing. All the squabbling and petty bullshit that went on when you were all kids goes away. And every spouse that enters the family, every niece and nephew, is another person for you to love, who can love you. And you get the chance to be the cool aunt–the one who takes the kid to the zoo and pays for pony rides and tons of candy, and then when the kid is overstimulated, late for a nap, and has a load in her pants…gee, would you look at the time. Gotta be going.

Being a grown-up is great. If I want to sit around in my underpants watching cartoons and eating popcorn with my dogs, my parents’ opinions about more productive things I could be doing don’t matter. I can waste time if I want, provided all my major responsibilities are fulfilled. If I want chickens for my backyard, their conviction that chickens are stinky, horrible creatures don’t matter. I can have all the chickens I bloody well want. If I hate meatloaf, nobody makes it for dinner and expects me to eat it anyway.

Don’t fear that happiness won’t last forever and that you will one day lose the people you love. Know it. Embrace that knowledge, because the corollaries are vitally important to being happy.

Of course happiness doesn’t last forever. NOTHING lasts forever. Not the good stuff, and not the bad stuff. The days of joy and laughter end…and so do the days of fear, pain, and sorrow. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps us going through the bad times, the sure and certain knowledge that they won’t last. As the old saying goes, this too shall pass.

You WILL lose the people you love, or they will lose you. And that makes every single day you spend with them a gift to be treasured and rejoiced in. The sooner you truly, viscerally know that, the luckier you are. Even when that knowledge comes as a result of tragedy or near-tragedy.

There are benefits to being an ageless fawn. As everyone has said much more eloquently than I will, as long as you’re supporting yourself and not being an aggravation to anyone, who cares if you’re not some grouchy, serious grown-up? Those people aren’t fun anyway.

I’m childlike. I just turned 34 yesterday and I still feel like I’m twelve. People have told me I look like I’m twelve. My trusted psychologist told me that I’m emotionally twelve years old. That stung, yes. To have it confirmed to me in that way, all severe and in my face…it wasn’t very pleasant. I won’t lie. I cried and wondered what I could have done to not be in this “situation.” But I can’t worry about that now. All I can do is grow at my own pace and not worry about hitting all the magical milestones I’ve managed to skip over.

I’d rather be childlike than older than my years. You know how kids don’t worry about stuff? They live in the moment and everything is new and wild to them? I’d rather be like that than be cynical and jaded. I do have an edgy side; I’m not going to perpetrate like I’m some innocent angel. But I don’t have to worry about “finding my inner child.” I like that about myself. I haven’t always been this comfortable with myself, to be sure. Therapy has helped, and I think being exposed to grouchy, older-than-their-years people has also pushed me in this direction. You’ll see, as you experience things, that you are much better being you than trying to be someone else.

Do I feel like I’m a disappointment to my parents? Of course. I’d liked to be normal and not so eccentric. I’d like to be able to converse with my peers about sex and guys and wine and crudites and curios cabinets and diaper genies and manicures and all of that. One day full acceptance of “me” will come. I know it will. In the meantime, I can enjoy the freedom that comes with being an adult child. Freedom from responsibilities (except to myself). Freedom from social expectations (I’m working on shedding off self-imposed “pressures”). Freedom to be who I am, the way I am, at this exact moment. This has been enjoyable… learning new things and finding out that I’m much stronger and smarter than I thought I was.

Don’t worry about getting old(er). My life has not gone by so fast, and it has slowed down a lot since I have gotten a new perspective on things. Like now it seems like forever since I was in my worrisome twenties. The more you worry about life, the faster it will fly by. Kind of like the more you count down the hours before you have to wake up for work during an insomnia attack, the faster time seems to go, and then the less likely you are to fall asleep. You must learn to live in the moment and make it last. Stretch out the day so that you collapse into bed completely exhausted and sleep like a baby.

Just like a little kid does.

Quoted for truth.

What I loved about being in my 20’s: Not having to take exams. Not having to stay up late working on problem sets or writing papers. Having my own source of income. Not being dependent on my parents. Being able to eat cookie dough for lunch if I wanted to. (Though pro tip? Not a good idea.) Learning to cook yummy food that I liked a lot. Being able to decide exactly what I wanted for dinner, and if I wanted eggplant, by golly I could do that. Learning to figure out what to do with the weird odds and ends in the refrigerator. Traveling. Being more attractive than I was in college because I was always running on too little sleep and not enough time to look decent and also because I didn’t know the faintest thing about clothes then.

What I love about being in my 30s:
Being able to buy stuff if I want to, or not. Having my own place that I can mess up if I want to. (In my 20’s I had roommates. I have a husband now, but it’s easier to get him on my side with messes :slight_smile: ) Taking classes at the community college in things I think are really cool, like jewelry making. Figuring out how to be better at stuff. Hanging out with my family and my sibling’s family and my husband’s siblings’ families and the cutest nieces and nephews on the planet. (Seriously, if you are naturally silly and childish, like me? Nieces and nephews totally rock because they get you and you get them and they think you’re wonderful because you think putting stuffed frogs on your head is cool and adults don’t usually. And their parents will love you too.) Being more attractive than I was in my 20’s because I finally figured out clothes to a certain extent at least.

Check back in five years and I’ll tell you what I love about being in my 40’s :slight_smile: I expect I’ll learn something about hair and/or makeup and be even more attractive :wink:

Seriously, this is an awesome time to learn things and do things without pressure. I don’t think you’re quite realizing how awesome it is to be grownup. And no one said you had to really figure out what you want to do. My husband and I still don’t know (though we’ll probably keep on doing engineering, as we haven’t found anything better yet).