Friday, January 22, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up is hard to do.

Adolescence can be a rocky adventure (sometimes even a mis-adventure) not confined just to our teen years. Many of us, myself included – an upper 20-something, are still trying to figure out exactly what adulthood looks like. A life stage that is obtainable but ever elusive. When I look to the media and even societal expectations I am filled with ideas of adulthood being responsibilities that I must fulfill one by one, as if on a checklist to growing up.

Graduate and go to College…

Become a Strongly Independent Person…

Land a Certain Job…

Own a Home…

Fall in Love and Raise a Family…

And the whole time… Be responsible. Whew!

Paradoxically this is the confused list that is given to us by our youth participants at Journeys – just throw in a couple more relevant teen year passages like “Get my Driver’s License,” “Purchase Alcohol,” "Vote in a Presidential Election," and “Have a Sexual Relationship” and you have the whole list.

Granted, seemingly, these items DO provide us with some level of adult-like accountability – at least externally or to the world around us. But something seems to be missing from the list.

So the question emerges, What does it really mean to come into adulthood?

My hope, and a consistent motivation at Journeys, is that true adults are those who know their unique purpose or intent in this time and in this place. An adult knows of their contribution and is on the road to offering their true self to the world. But boy is that confusing! And who will help us figure it out!?

Purpose, alone, is a big discovery task and something that we begin asking ourselves fairly early. This is sometimes masked by the common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At Journeys, we ask our youth participants, “Where are you going?” and “How are you going to get there?” sometimes followed up by, “Who are you going to take with you?” For a 12-year-old these are big questions but inevitably the youth has answers. The answers sometimes change over time, as we get closer and closer to knowing who we really are, but asking the question itself is a step along the path.

So here I am today, opening up a new blog page to capture these questions and the experiences that our friends, staff and participants have to offer in hopes that someday we’ll have it all figured out. If nothing else, this is a place for us to share our process of coming of age, no matter what stage we’re at.

This is an experiment in creating and building our community. And I’ll probably need a lot of help along the way. If, at any time, you are sparked by a thought or a memory please do share it with me (or “us” as we begin to gather here). I look forward to hearing from the Journeys’ community and I extend this village to anyone who is reading this post. Each of us has a part of the story to share and I feel honored to be in charge of capturing the pieces.

All the best on your Journey,

Emily Pease