Do we ever really grow up? |

Do we ever really grow up?

I think we’ve been misled, duped into believing an ancient myth. I think it’s time someone pulled back the curtain because I don’t think this particular fairy tale is serving anyone. From a very young age, we’ve been trained to accept that one day, we would grow up. I think it’s a lie. True, we grow — up, out and sideways. Some of us even grow old enough to eventually grow down, shrinking back into ourselves like shriveled raisins. But I’m not so sure I buy into the whole idea of grown-ups.

I think we’re all still children — awkward, insecure, naïve and distinctively nerdy in our own ridiculous ways. It’s my experience of people that most of us are frightened and more than a little confused. Some of us are better at faking it than others, but just under the surface, we’re all looking around stupefied, wondering what the hell is going on and what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re basically 7 billion people looking around with dazed expressions, wondering if anyone really understands life on this planet.

There are no grown-ups. There are only increasingly aged versions of the children we once were — recess archetypes acting out childhood clichés on the playground of life. While our experiences give us perspective over time, no amount of practical wisdom prepares us to fully comprehend what we’re about and what we should be doing. It’s anyone’s best guess. Collectively, I think we are one bizarre organism indiscriminately bumping into ourselves, individually trying not to get crushed or excreted. Some might say Macbeth was right.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5).

There are those who hack away with reckless abandon, wildly flailing in pursuit of something better. There are those who shamelessly step on the throats of others to gain a fleeting foothold over the rest of us. There are those who feign authority to gain influence and advance their own chance of survival. There are those who quietly undermine, discreetly sabotage and inconspicuously manipulate in support of selfish interests. There are those who tremble on the fringe, too traumatized to engage.

The rest of us do what we can to survive the fray. We see the daily drama unfold on the monkey bars, blacktops, playing fields, and swing sets of adulthood. Repulsed and bewildered, we scrape together what we can find in support of one another, sidestepping the bastards when we’re able, vigilantly protecting those under our care. We do the best we can with what we’ve got. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes we foolishly speak ill of ourselves for our paltry condition or misunderstanding of the world and our place in it.

My friends, despite the beauty all around us, our infinitesimal place in the universe is undeniably abrasive and relentlessly confusing. Stop looking to the grown-ups for answers — there are none. There are only those whose kindness, compassion and generosity inspire understanding. There are only those who illuminate truth through the reality of hard-earned experience. There are only those who seek to nurture, shepherd and shield us from harm. There are only those who look for meaning among the nonsense all around us.

Wisely stated by those infinitely smarter than myself, the human experience is simply about serving others. When we deviate from this simple ideal, we tend to lose sight of our humanity and regress into the natural order of chaos. When all seems lost; when we seem to replay the most tumultuous tragedies of our brief history; when confusion turns to despair and turmoil festers ever-deeper, simply remember this: we are here to make life better for others. In doing so, that is the only way to sustainably improve our own condition.

Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, nonprofits, students and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 970.366.2532, email or become a friend at

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