The Difference Between Growing Old and Growing Up

*Originally ran November 9, 2015*

     I am afraid of growing up. I am afraid that one day I will no longer believe in “happily ever afters”, and that I won’t go out of my way to jump into a pile of leaves on the sidewalk, and that I won’t think that flowers and rain and sunrises are magical. I am afraid that I will become practical. And realistic. And unimaginative. And those are quite awful things to be. But here is a secret: growing old is mandatory, but growing up…well, that’s optional.

     You see, growing up is a mindset. Unfortunately, it has become associated with growing older, which makes people believe that they must ditch their dreams of fairytales and magic once they reach a certain age. But whether or not you choose to grow up is entirely up to you. Staying young at heart is a matter of seeing the world through childlike eyes. It’s looking at a puddle on the ground and seeing it as a mystical pond that you must jump over or into to get across, instead of viewing it as an annoyance to carefully tip toe around. It’s seeing the chore of folding bedsheets as a perfect opportunity to spread them around the room and build a fort hideaway. It is still holding on to hope that magic is real (because it is). It’s knowing that all people are good at heart and everyone has a chance to a happy ending.

     Most people say that age is just a number. Because it is. But it’s a pretty cool number. That’s the number of times that you have circled around the sun, which is a pretty big deal! With every tally mark that you add to your number of revolutions, just think of all the amazing things you have seen. Every year older gives you another year to explore and grow and change. Growing old in age and physicality is inevitable, but it’s not a bad thing at all. The bad thing is when you grow up, because that’s when your heart starts to grow old. You don’t grow up because you get older, but you do get older (in the bad way) when you grow up.

     But do not worry! It is never to late to be young at heart. And reaching to your inner child is easier than you might imagine. Never stop seeking to find extraordinary in the ordinary. Imagination is the most powerful trait that you have. Use it to your advantage. You can have the most colorful and exciting life if you choose to embrace your age and simultaneously look at the world through wide, childlike eyes. You are never ever too old for fort building, or sprinkler splashing, or finger painting, or fairytales.

“That’s the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.” -Walt Disney

~Madelynne Catherine

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