Growing In

This is Megan. She researches things for a living.  She's strategic and kind--and likes to ask good questions.  When I met Megan I was quickly drawn to her ideas and quiet way of influencing the world around her.  As part of my own journey, I asked a few women to share their thoughts on my blog (you can read about my intentions here).  There are times that I feel like a little girl in a grown woman's body and it throws me off-- like when I have to fix the dishwasher that leaked all over my floor, or get the oil changed in my car, or own my mistakes (eeek!).  So anyways, I asked Megan how she knew when she was grown up.  Her thoughtful response is below :)

In survey research, there are a variety of criteria that are commonly used to define someone as an “adult”: turning 18 years old, financial stability, living independently, having a child, and emotional maturity, among others. However, the funny thing about the concept of adulthood is that there can often be a difference between being an adult and feeling like an adult. When do we really become “all grown up”? And perhaps more importantly, when do we feel that we’re all grown up?

Looking at my own life, I know (objectively) that I am “grown up”— I am living independently of my parents and have a life that is uniquely of my own creation. However, I definitely still have a hard time thinking of myself as an adult; the label feels slightly clunky, like trying on a pair of jeans that are a bit too big. I think this is in part because as a child, the idea of being “grown up” was always projected to some point in the future that was always ambiguous and never well-defined. Additionally, for many of my fellow Millennials the journey to becoming grown up looks more like a gradual ramp, instead of the diving board method of previous generations.

Although there’s a lot of gray area in how I understand my own adulthood, the summer after my junior year of college was definitely a turning point in my maturity. I had accepted an internship with the company I now have a full-time role with, and that began a domino effect of factors that pulled me deeper into the waters of adulthood. The preparation for the summer was growing in and of itself: I bought my first car, learned how to drive it in a week (it’s a manual), applied for funding, and found a place to live. When I finally arrived in Ventura, the challenges kept coming. I knew no one and had never worked full-time before, so I quickly had to learn how to build a community, cook, and budget my finite resources.

That summer in particular was a growing one for me primarily because it helped me to acclimate to the real responsibilities of being an adult. But there’s another part of being an adult that I think is much more difficult to grow into: becoming the person that God has called me to be. Anyone can learn to pay bills, buy groceries, and navigate a new city, but it is much more difficult to identify and use your gifts in ways that honor yourself and others.

Over the last three years I’ve been learning more about my passion for the intersection of sociological research, Christianity, gender, and feminism. Although it has taken a while to articulate clearly what drives me personally and professionally, it’s been even more difficult to figure out how to practically pursue it. Even harder still is learning how to trust my personal capacity to grow and lead others with my unique gifting. I believe part of the difficulty is innate to being human, but another significant influence is how women are often socialized to doubt their abilities.

In my own struggle to fight this internal doubt, the greatest weapon in my arsenal has been other women who have helped me to dream bigger dreams for myself. Their encouragement, support, and affirmation have been foundational to my personal growth, and that has given me a new capacity to encourage, support and affirm myself as well. Although these changes have coincided with maturity of age and new life seasons, I can’t simply call it “becoming an adult” or even “growing up”. This is “growing in”. “Growing in” is this process of peeling off fear and insecurity as I seek to more fully embody my unique giftings and vocational call. “Growing in” also requires that I actively embrace empathy and vulnerability as I invite others into my story and discernment.

So even though I know that I’m already an adult and I’ve already done a lot of growing up, I look forward to “growing in” as a lifelong adventure of challenge and triumph beyond my wildest imagination.


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