Getting Old Is Easy, Growing Up is Complicated

Growing up is defined by learning, overcoming challenges, and gaining experience. This explains why many people, despite their age, continue to act and respond like children.
Getting Old Is Easy, Growing Up is Complicated
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Getting old is easy, in fact, it’s so easy that you just have to let time pass. However, growing up is sometimes painful. It places you in situations that you never would’ve imagined and to which you must respond. Some of us will do better and others worse. Nevertheless, the simple passage of time and each candle blown out on a birthday cake doesn’t automatically make us wiser.

It’d be great if the human mind were the same as a computer or a cell phone. In other words, every few weeks, a new update would come out and the device would, theoretically, work much better. However, the maturity of people isn’t linear and the mere fact of being older doesn’t give you any more sophisticated strategies to solve problems or make better decisions.

Growing up is a complicated task, so much so that many never even achieve this privilege. It involves developing good personal growth, avoiding impulsiveness and frustration, and acting calmly in the face of whatever comes your way. Because, contrary to what Peter Pan thought, growing up isn’t the end, growing up is only the beginning.

Growing up means reformulating much of what we used to take for granted.

woman thinking that getting old is easy
We get older every day, but we don’t allow ourselves to grow every day.

Growing old is easy, but growing up is complicated

When you were a child, you wanted to grow up and be able to do everything that age prevents you from doing. You wanted to stay up all night. You dreamt of driving a car, traveling far away with friends, buying whatever you wanted… Above all, you longed to do whatever you wanted.

However, as you got older, you became aware of a sad reality. You can’t always do what you want. Moreover, being an adult is complicated and even boring. Sometimes, you might even find yourself longing to be a child again. That’s how contradictory we human beings are. Furthermore, when you complain, you age a little more every day, forgetting the most important thing: growing up.

So, what does growing up really mean? Unlike getting older, it implies you stop simply reacting to what happens to you and act on what happens to you. It involves learning from every experience, big or small, wonderful or tragic. It also means developing a calmer mental focus and understanding that you might not have control over many things, but you do have control over yourself.

Aging is inevitable. It’s a natural process that we all go through. However, growing up requires a strong will to develop a more flexible mental approach, being open to what surrounds us, and being ready to acquire adequate wisdom.

The world is full of children in adult costumes

That’s right, our society is full of adults who act like children. They’re men and women who, despite having matured physically, haven’t really grown up as they haven’t matured emotionally. They’re people that stumble in the face of every adversity, whether big or small. They want the world to respond to their needs and for everything to go the way they want it to go.

These people get frustrated quickly. They go from anger to rage, longing for others to adjust to their expectations and desires. It doesn’t matter that they’re wearing adult costumes, inside they’re lost creatures who haven’t learned from their experiences because they can’t tolerate the fact that life hasn’t turned out the way they want.

Growing up is defined by treasured experiences, not the number of years lived.

Growing old is simple but not so easy to accept

It’s highly likely that you don’t like the idea of wrinkles and the passage of time terrifies you. However, getting old is easy, but it’s a natural process that we all tend to deny. The striking thing is that the simple fact of resisting this reality also slows down your opportunity to grow and acquire the vital learning that aging gives you.

Research conducted by the University of Lleida (Spain) suggests that to adapt to the aging process we need to enjoy adequate physical and psychosocial well-being. Indeed, acceptance is an essential part of personal growth.

Getting older means taking on many responsibilities. Don’t let these consume you. Leave space for yourself, listen to yourself, and don’t give up on what makes you happy. Only then will you feel a little more fulfilled every day.

Man slowly thinking that getting old is easy
Time passes really quickly. If you want to grow, start working on your dreams with determination and courage.

How to grow as you get older

What can you do to promote adequate personal, emotional, and even existential growth? The pillar that supports this privilege to which we’re all entitled is maturity. Maturity is defined by the way you perceive experiences in order to learn from them.

Instead of reacting to everything that happens to you, you must integrate self-reflection into each of your experiences. Looking at each event from the serenity of accepting and understanding what’s happening to you and employing the appropriate strategies to solve your problems is essential. In fact, growing up means acquiring a more humble and curious approach, as well as being wiser and more hopeful.

All of us, without exception, have the power to develop this value. It’s a gift that’ll undoubtedly allow us to live happier and more fulfilled lives. Try and start putting it into practice today.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Dause TJ, Kirby ED. Aging gracefully: social engagement joins exercise and enrichment as a key lifestyle factor in resistance to age-related cognitive decline. Neural Regen Res. 2019 Jan;14(1):39-42. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.243698. PMID: 30531067; PMCID: PMC6262997.
  • Jain, Chaya & Apple, Daniel. (2015). What is Self-Growth?. International Journal of Process Education. 7. 41-52.
  • Woerkom, Marianne & Meyers, Maria Christina. (2018). Strengthening personal growth: The effects of a strengths intervention on personal growth initiative. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 92. 10.1111/joop.12240.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.