How to be a Grown-Up – 16 Steps

*This list presumes you’re independent – financially, emotionally, and otherwise.

  1. Recognize when you are first, and when you’re second. (Put yourself first when you need it. Put others first, even if they don’t need it. Some call that chivalry—really, it’s just a nice thing to do.)
  2. Be childlike, not childish. (Be in touch with your inner child and never aspire to grow up. But take responsibility for your actions.)
  3. Choose your words for kindness, necessity, and truth. (Just don’t say them if they’re not kind, not necessary, and not true.)
  4. Be a role model for someone. (Anyone. Just act like you’re being watched and it matters.)
  5. Vote. (Know your surroundings – the littles and the bigs. Care about them and stand up for something you believe in.)
  6. Get out every now and then to try something new. (Travel. Try a new sport, hobby, form of art. Anything, but put yourself out of your comfort zone.)
  7. Memorize a homemade recipe, a childhood lullaby, a prayer.
  8. Make a snow angel. And a sandcastle. But make something creative.
  9. Send a thank you card, a pigeon post, a letter in a bottle. (Anything, but hand-write a letter and send it.)
  10. Surprise someone in public. (Make it a celebration. Leave the criticism for the private.)
  11. Know nature. Know something about the earth and its plants, the skies and their stars, the living and the dead. Tell someone about it.
  12. Do what you love with the person you love in the place that you love.
  13. Cry. (Cry tears of sadness and of joy, but cry them. Accept them, don’t wipe them away. Let them cleanse you until they run out. (To clarify, don’t drown in self-pity. Just find strength in vulnerability.))
  14. Forgive. Set the other person free. More importantly, set yourself free. (Deal with it as long as you need to, feel the process. Then, put it behind you. Move on. Start anew.)
  15. Tell and show your parents you love them. (Even if they’ve already passed on. Even if they don’t recognize you anymore. Even if the world tells you they don’t deserve it. Tell them, show them. Like – hug them.)
  16. Let love take you somewhere, whether it’s paradise or hell. But let it take you. (Don’t put an ultimatum or expiration date on it. Life will do that for you.)

*This is the result of an assignment that my good friend gave me yesterday. Matt, you should have a word with my professors! We don’t do cool things like this in grad school. It’s about time!