Womankind Issue 19
Telling someone to “grow up” is often taken badly. No one likes to be told that they’re acting like a child. But to ‘grow up’ is part of the constantly evolving human condi- tion. We always should be, in a sense, growing up.
Psychologists prefer to call it gaining ‘personal authority’, which means taking charge of your self, your health, your behaviour, your destiny. So rather than relying on the consent or approval of others, or waiting for other people to reveal a pathway forward, you instead understand that the choices you make are your responsibility. You are the gatekeeper to your own life.
For some, this feeling of ultimate freedom over the course of one’s destiny can feel too overwhelming; it’s easier to re- sign yourself to a fate that’s ultimately in another’s hands. Much like a child patiently waits for dinner, or for permission to play outside, you continue to wait for that signal from others, which may or may not ever arrive.
Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre argues that most people never accept this gaping responsibility over the course of their lives, but instead will blame society, religion, luck, parents, and so on when things go wrong. But to do so, argues the philosopher, is to live in “bad faith”. We must, he believes, accept that we have the freedom to choose and direct the course of our lives. To do so is to gain ‘personal authority’, or what’s commonly referred to as ‘growing up’.