Milestones contain the potential for growth spurts. Harken an image of yourself at the gawky tweener…When rounding 13, affixed with metal teeth, adorned with neon color, all of the sudden, your interests altered dramatically. You began to not only become alert to the opposite sex, but to obsess about Johnny Depp (21 Jumpstreet) or Christian Slater (Pump up the Volume) with a veracity you couldn’t show the boys sitting next to you in class. You began to gulf bowls of chips and salsa or pans of moms brownies while playing Mario Brothers at night. Your legs might have ached, even, signaling a rapid development of height.
This period hallmarks as the “growing pains” era of one’s life.
In a nod to all of us celebrating milestones this year, I have begun to ponder how we’ve been gypped out of reverance for our own development after the teenage years. Growing old may be so feared in this culture that we forget how amazingly resilient, flexible, sensitive we are. In our teenage years, it’s like a switch is turned on where we intensely care about what others think, and that electricity fuels us so intensely thus forward that there is no juice left to pay homage to our own voice. We don’t want to celebrate ourselves, because that would draw the spotlight onto ourselves too directly
…and let’s face it, we’re taught to squirm under the lighting. Just think about trying on a series of swimsuits in those dressing rooms. Or having sex under flurescent lighting. Or examining your face in one of those magical mirrors where every crevice acts like a prima donna. We’re taught to shy away from the process of aging, and thus we don’t celebrate, our even acknowledge our growth.
I think because in doing so, we also have to acknowledge the pains felt in getting there.
I turned 30 over a month ago. I’ve treated the time as an official hallmark: motivating me to question my present habits, activities, qualities in a reflective manner to mobilize dedication to certain resolutions (akin to New Year, but with more intentionality because adopted by me and not by cultural fad). But I’ve also been admiring the pain of the past, and how my losses, my aches, my challenges signaled immense growth spurts. I’ve placed a little light on my life, and instead of shirking back in shame, attempting to hide all the flaws from you all and more importantly, myself, I’ve placed a beam on them.
Uncontrollable beasts, these growing pains prove. They bite back. They may keep you up a night, festering. But we tame them by celebrating them. The milestones matter.