When I Grow Up

What is growing up?

There are so many different ways we grow up.

The PhySiCaL: Our bodies ever changing. Breasts, butt, thighs, pecs, biceps, wrinkles…our bodies never stop.

The MenTal: Our brain develops. Simple concepts extending into complex theories. From Junie B. Jones books to Hamlet and Nabokov‘s Lolita. A 6-piece puzzle has turned into 10,000 pieces.

The EmoTioNal: Babies seeing a smile, a laugh, a frown, and crying. As adults, we see emotions beyond what we understood, even as young adults. Love, lust, betrayal, trust, honesty, virtue, charity. We see beyond the gray between the black and white. We see the many shades that exist in anything and everything.

Then you have sex, gender, careers, partners, friends…so many parts of life that grow in so many ways.

But what molds us most? Is it our bodies and minds? Our feelings? Is it our peers and family? How much of our change is nature and how much is nurture?

The more I experience life, myself and others, the more I find nurture is the True Power. It is not the creator: that is nature. But it is the Shaker and Mover. Every word, every thought, every action indents upon us in ways our biology never will. It isn’t our biology that creates our beliefs about the body, but the way we think about them. The way we try to use words and feelings to rationalize our bodies.

“The human body does this because…” Fill in the blank. My body has breasts because of chromosomes. Genes. I am unique because some of those genes combine in ways we may never understand that determine each and every personality. Every physicality. Somewhere in me, something came together and I came together. I came together as gay. I came together with an attraction to women.

We innately know whom we are attracted to on a subconscious level, but it takes nurture for us to fully grasp what those underlying feelings and urges mean and how they are meant to be understood. Sometimes, we are nurtured in a way that demeans who we are. Sometimes, that is done purposefully. Out of fear or hatred. Sometimes, it is through those who love us who think it is “what is best” forgetting “what is best” is not the same for everyone and when they were younger someone trying to teach them “what is best” sparked equal rebellion.

“What is best” for me is not “what is best” for you, for my siblings, my parents, or the President of the United States.

To me, “what is best”, is to nurture love and understanding when people commit acts that hurt us and those we love. Retribution as in an “eye-for-an-eye” is not just. It is not correct. Death for a death. Rape for a rape. A wedgie for a wedgie. These habits are mutually destructive. As I look at the things that have been done to me, the negative ones, the ones that threatened to break me-shake me-humiliate me-humble me-damn me for being me, I realize my actions are not in retribution. I have seldom if ever followed up on something I said I wished I would do or considered doing. I thought about what it would accomplish.


Committing an act to purposely harm another person, be it bodily, spiritually, mentally, or any way, is a crime. No matter how innocent-seeming, it is wrong. There is no lesson taught. No virtue to be had. It is vile. It is a violation. We all say things, do things, much of the time on accident, that hurt others and ourselves. Why say things, do things on purpose? With the intent to return the hurt? There is no lesson to be learned in hurting another. There are ways to get through to those people that don’t require an eye for an eye. And there are ways to mend the hurt that don’t require more hurt. There are apologies. True apologies. Sorrys. Tears. Hugs. I love yous. And you see it. You see me. You see my eyes. “I’m sorry” that doesn’t lie. Don’t lie to me. When you apologize, don’t say it in sarcastic or condescending tones. Don’t say it when you don’t mean it; don’t understand why I cry, why you’ve hurt me–made my soul cry and heart bleed. Giving me presents doesn’t heal the wound. You can’t buy my love or body. I can’t buy yours. Your words only mean so much, but when you mean them–your honesty, not your lies…in time I’ll forgive. Maybe not forget. Maybe I’ll be mean one day and throw them back in your face, but please know it just means I’m afraid you’ll hurt me again. That I’ll hurt you.

Maybe we’re supposed to hurt each other. When we grow up. Maybe we’re supposed to make and break each other and the world. I shake up yours and you shake up mine. We like our differences–they make us similar. Differences that can interest another person are a good thing. They teach us new things, remind us of forgotten things. Maybe we’ll do charity work together. Maybe we’ll travel the world in a hot air balloon. Maybe we’ll make love all night and wake up and do it again. Maybe we’ll grow old up together. Maybe we’ll become a Venn Diagram. Interlapping, intersecting. Lines through lines. Lives through lives. You are you and I am me, but we are so much more together. We could create a world or explode it, but we could do it together. Would you with me? Could you with me?

I want to keep growing up. I want to gain laugh wrinkles and life lines. I want to love and hurt. I want to smile and have tears pour from my soul. I want to keep on living and breathing. Thinking and feeling. I want to do it with you. And you. And you. And them. And me. I want to grow up. I want to age well. I want to say, “I’ve lived well. I’ve done it. I’m happy.” I want you to say it too. I want my sister to say it. My brother. My parents. My friends. The people who have hurt me. The people who have helped me. I want all of us to find our way. To find our light. The light and salvation we seek does not have to be spiritual. There doesn’t have to be one way to find fulfillment or not at all.

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.  ~Thomas Paine

We are unique by design. Our very essence is unique. Our creation. Our life. We are one and we are not the same. How else could we bring such change to others? How else could we experience the same thing on different levels? We were created to live in our uniqueness. To find those who can co-exist with us and leave behind those who can’t. That’s not a crime to leave behind the people who can’t because we all deserve to be happy. Regret only holds us back. Some parts of the past can stay. They are the things that change with us. That continue to make us better.

Time and distance teach us lessons. They teach us how to grow up. How to live. How to love. They teach us how to dance (can you teach me how to Dougie?). I can teach you. Will you teach me?

Act kindly. Speak softly. Understand me. Let me understand you. I’ll open for you. I promise I will. See through the half-truths and whispers of others. See me. Hear me. Listen to me. Tell me things. Let me do the same for you.

When I grow up…

I want to grow up with you.

Let’s always grow up together. Even if we never see each other again. Even if we never hug or say we love each other. Even if we stop talking. Let’s think about each other. Let’s wish each other well. Let’s believe in the best of one another and other people. I think of you. Please think of me too.

Guess I need to let you go now. I need to leave and grow up. Can’t grow up without a good breakfast.

You should go too. Good luck.

Growing up is so hard to do.

© 2010-11 Just Another Gay In The Life by Lauren Bornstein

One response

  1. When we stop growing we cease living. Solid post, my friend.

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