Defining the term, many use in day-to-day conversation, is difficult. I don’t think it can even be done. I mean really, try defining ”growing up”.

There is no clean cut way to define the commonly used term, “Growing Up”. Why is this so?

“Growing Up” is unique to each individual. For some it may be based on added responsibilities, level of maturity, age, intelligence, the list goes on.

Up until recently, for me the term took on a different meaning than it does now. Had you asked me a month ago how I would define “Growing Up”, I would have stuttered, cleared my throat, said I wasn’t sure and then tried to define it. For a lack of better words I would have said something along the lines of, “Growing up, to me, means that you are no longer a child and you no longer rely on others to provide for you. In essence, you become your own provider and like…ummmm….you know, you just have more responsibilities, you mature, and you stop behaving like a five-year-old”. (The “like”, “ummmm”, and “you know” had to be put in the quotes because I often resort to saying such things when I am trying to gather my thoughts and fail to do so promptly and accurately.)

Today, I realized that “Growing Up” cannot be defined. It cannot be quantified, nor should it be. However, I believe that the term takes on a different meaning throughout ones life. Once again, it is an individualized analysis therefore, my take on “Growing Up” is purely my interpretation and should not be taken for a fact.

01.20.10 marked the beginning of the 2nd half of my junior year at University. It feels a bit odd to be registered for 17 credits as I typically register for 18 and it is also odd to not have a packed schedule. Let me explain my previous semester, the “odd”ness of my current schedule will make sense afterwards.

Last semester I carried 18 credits, an internship at the Colombian Consulate, a job as an after-school Robotics teacher at PS188, a job at school as an economics tutor, another job at school as a student assistant in the CSIS department, I entered a competition for a startup social venture (placing in top 5), and had meetings here-and-there for a nonprofit venture my roommate and I are interested in launching (P.R.O.U.D Countries). Oh and I was also a member of the Pace FED Challenge team. Thankfully I was a researcher so my work could be conducted at home and the competition was completed in November so, my weekends were free after the competition culminated.

Needless to say, I had plenty to keep me busy. Most of my semesters in Uni, up until now, have consisted of a full (school) workload, extracurriculars, paid work, and interning. Functioning well on a jam packed schedule was my trademark. Thus far I managed to maintain a good social life and my GPA managed to stay at a reasonable level…

I neglected one class entirely, I did very well in a couple, I slacked in one class, and in the other I feel I was unjustly graded but my professor went fully by the syllabus and preferred quantity versus quality so receiving A’s on my papers meant squat because I didn’t post 10 times a week on the online portal. Sadly, I managed to dock my cumulative GPA by an entire decimal point from a 3.4 to a 3.3. I learned my lesson.

Testing your limits, might just bite you in the behind if you get ahead of yourself and assuming a professor will appreciate well-written, substantial posts and replies to the typical “nice point…wow I totally agree with that”. I did well outside of school but as far as my GPA, I was very upset and spent a few days (during my break) sulking and feeling utterly disappointed and disgusted by my performance. Eventually, I told myself to get over it because sulking would not help my situation and I needed to implement a new strategy.

I applied for a job at and will be sending a follow-up email later this week. I have applied to the General Course at LSE and will be notified about my status within a weeks time; my last recommendation letter was submitted a couple hours ago (eek). Pending on an acceptance, I will be continuing with my Economics major and CS and Law minors. An acceptance into the General Course for 2010-2011 would be amazing and I will gladly venture to London but I am keeping a leveled head until my notification. I will either silently be in somber for a few days or I will joyously change my class schedule to accommodate for the classes I plan to take while at LSE next year. At this point, it is no longer in my hands and so I must not over analyze my application or my faulty GPA. If it is meant to be, it will be. I really want it to be! (I act quite nonchalant around those who know about my applying but I am actually very nervous about what may happen.)

What I have always known but am just realizing is that there is a time for everything. My mother repeats it constantly… “Luisa, there is a time and place for everything” … I usually nod and reply, “Yes Mom, I know”. I always heard her say the words but I did not necessarily listen to them. I have finally listened and the words have sunk in.

Timing determines a lot in ones life and you can fight it, embrace it, hate it, love it, exploit it, or all of the above.

I like to test my limits, perhaps because I like to keep busy. Testing my limits landed me in a ditch, with little personal time, a lot on my plate, a lack of focus, and burnt out. It did not just occur this past semester, it has happened before. I always tell myself that I must manage my time efficiently but managing my time is not the problem, I can manage my time well and I can accomplish a lot within my time limits but accomplishing a task does not mean you accomplish it to your best ability. At this point in TIME, my schoolwork takes precedent and it is what must come first.

The Spring 2010 semester brings with it a full workload. I will spend a lot of time “hitting the books”. I am a 20-year-old and I am a student before all else. Being buried in my books and schoolwork is where I belong and being a nerd at heart, it is where I want to be. I want to dedicate my time to school this semester and although it is hard, I will try my best to keep my precedent as is. I am working as a student assistant once again (it is a position I have held for two years now) and I am also teaching a five-year-old once a week, for an hour, a bit of programming. Currently I have Kane working on Scratch (a scripting tool my boyfriend tuned me in on). Through this semester I will likely lack sleep as I tend to work best at night, one of the many reasons why I have taken on CS as a minor. I will also keep my attendance at the gym consistent so that I am able to have some personal time, relieve stress, and maintain relatively healthy eating habits.

All of this has led me to my latest deductions on “Growing Up”. It is not a state of mind nor a threshold you pass on your way into adulthood. “Growing Up”, to me, means realizing who you are over time. You cannot ever fully know who you are because we are creatures of constant growth and change, it is in our nature to adapt therefore we cannot be the same person we were five years ago or expect to be the same person five years from today.

Throughout our lives I believe we retain certain aspects of ourselves and through the process of realizing which aspects we chose to retain, we come to the conclusion that we are “Growing Up”. Realizing our faults, strengths, values, goals, pet peeves, likes, and dislikes… and embracing who we are at the core and seeking to make ourselves better, more efficient, and happy individuals is what growing up is all about.

We are however, not always simply individuals, we are part of teams whether a team member within your family, a group of friends, a school project, or a team member within a job setting, we cannot always think of ourselves nor can we only think of others. Finding a balance between your goals and the goals of others (and how you play a roll in their lives) is part of “Growing Up”.

Growing up is a combination of timing, self-awareness, self-evaluation, and implimentation. We “grow up” constantly and so, one cannot ever be a GROWN UP, one can only evolve.

Life is filled with moments that can define us but we should not let moments define who we are or who we become, we should define the moments and CHOOSE who we are and who we become. Life is an execution of choices and those choices lead us in different paths. Make the right choices and recall them.

We retain certain aspects of ourselves all through our lives, what we retain is who we are at the core. Don’t lose who you are or change for others, retain your essence and embrace it. You cannot be successful when your success is based on a lie. You cannot build a sustainable life, when the foundation is faulty. Live from your heart and act with your heart and mind; follow your instinct but never float off the ground.

Be true to yourself and to the five-year-old you once were. Truth is, we never stop being children, we never stop wanting the comfort that comes from feeling safe in the embrace of our parents arms. We become consumed with what we want and forget about what we need.