Millennials, in general, get a bad break when it comes to the way we grew up, what we learned and didn’t learn, and how we direct or don’t direct our lives. I hear a lot about how young people don’t know how to do anything, don’t know how to dress, act, think, speak, work, and so on and so forth. There are times when this is true, but I’d like to say that there are some young people in this world who were forced to act like an adult at a very young age. And instead of making them bitter or lazy, they are better people today because of it.
No childhood is perfect and there are a million different reasons just like there are a million different people as to why that is the case. Sometimes, kids are put in situations where they have to grow up faster than they should. Some children are forced to learn things other kids don’t learn until years later or never learn at all, such as cleaning, taking care of younger siblings, cooking, budgeting, shopping, running a business, multitasking, and paying bills. Some may see this as a bad thing or as an opportunity to blame the parents or caregivers. However, growing up fast and taking on adult responsibilities at a young age can be a very positive thing.
Becoming an adult at a younger age allows you time to mature and become comfortable with doing certain tasks before you are out on your own. Sometimes, it is true that parents, for one reason or another, neglect their responsibilities, but sometimes parents simply aren’t able to do some of the normal things that parents should do due to physical, emotional, or mental health and disabilities. Some of us understand that in order for life to run smoothly, we have to learn to cope by ourselves and take care of ourselves and others around us. We may not have had the easiest or the most fun childhood, but we learned some valuable lessons. And we can be so thankful for that.
Being faced with these kinds of situations can be rough on a child. The large amounts of stress that often come with adult responsibilities shouldn’t be placed on a child, but sometimes life makes demands and there is simply no other way. We sometimes dwell on not having the easiest life or not having things other children had. But when we wipe all of that away, we are fortunate enough to have learned how to take care of ourselves and how to make it on our own without any help.
Growing up fast may not be ideal, but for those of us who know what it is like to take on responsibilities that should not be ours, and to be under certain stress and experience certain pressures, I think we’d all agree that it made us stronger. It gave us broad shoulders. It allowed us to have a “tough hide but a tender heart,” as someone once said. We know how to be responsible and take care of ourselves and of others. We know how to deal with stress that inevitably comes with adulthood. When we step out into the world, we don’t have many of the fears that our peers may have because we’ve been there, we know what it is like, and we know that it’s going to be okay.
If you had not been placed in the situation you were in would you know how to do the things you know how to do? Would you be independent and comfortable with your independence? Probably not. Life doesn’t always give us what we want, but most times, it gives us exactly what we need. Maybe we didn’t see the value back then, but it begins to make sense now. Now that you can budget your month, pay your bills on time, manage your own apartment or house, work hard, get up on time, and help others. It all makes perfect sense.
Sometimes the trials and struggles we face are a blessing in disguise. They make us stronger and more independent. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that you don’t have many funny stories or nice memories to share with your friends. However, you do have the ability to help them learn how to do a few things on their own. And that can be even more valuable than sharing stories.
Of course, it’s natural to be a little sad about not having the childhood you wish you could have had. I think every kid dreams of having a nice house with the perfect family behind a white picket fence, but for many of us, it doesn’t turn out that way. And it’s okay to wish things were a little different. But you do have another chance. You can’t go back in time and relive your past, but maybe someday you will have children of your own. You can give them the childhood you wish you had while making sure to teach them those hard lessons you learned in a more loving manner. Don’t let your past discourage you. Being an adult as a child made you the wonderful person you are today. It really was a blessing in disguise.
Collaboration with Daniella Whyte