What Does “Growing Up” Or “Coming-Of-Age” Mean To You?
by author Rachel Berry
In my opinion, the phrase “coming-of-age” means different things to different people and age groups. Here are two questions to ponder: Is there a particular age we all reach that is supposed to be the grand number of maturity and wisdom? Do people considered as grown-ups reach that “magical age” where they know everything? That can’t be true; otherwise, why would the phrase “You’re never too old to learn” exist?
Maybe the term refers to the time period during which we become independent and know who we are and what we want to become. In the story A Slip In The Right Direction, 14-year-old Clifton Henderson aka Slip is determined to prove to his dad and others that he is a man and that he can be depended upon to do the right thing and be the best he can be. Can you relate?
I think the term “coming-of-age” refers to the experiences and situations we go through early in life that build the foundation of who and what we continually aspire to and grow to become. Like in the story A Slip In The Right Direction, Slip refers to the story as the “journaling” of his journey. We all have a unique journey and our experiences begin early in life and take us along a path toward the discovery of life. The early lessons and learning we encounter on our unique journey is called “coming-of-age”; eventually, it’s just called “living” and “learning.” And yes, wisdom does come with age. Aren’t you smarter than you were 5 years ago? Think about it. And in 5 more years, you’ll know more than you do today. Isn’t that something exciting to look forward to?
Whether we like it or not, we all go through different changes in our life and along our journey. I bet right now there’s “something” going on in your life that might feel a bit difficult to deal with. Being a young adult, tween, or teen can be tough sometimes. Having to deal with the expectations of how people around you feel you should act, think, and speak can be difficult. Well, the good thing to always remember regarding whatever you’re dealing with is that this same situation has been dealt with by many others, and you are not the last person either that will have to experience it.
Often we find ourselves feeling like we’re alone going through the challenges that face us. But we don’t have to be. There’s always someone willing to listen, give advice, or help. We just have to know where to find those positive people. Coming-of-age and just going through life isn’t always easy, but it’s also a wonderful experience if you truly take the time to see it from all angles.
Remember when you were a baby? Probably not, yet someone took the time to care for you and teach you along your journey to toddlerhood. Then you learned to walk and talk and depend on some very important people in your life who helped you along the journey to becoming a young child. You learned to read and write, have friendships, and learned about the world around you. During this time, you were taught about what’s good and bad in life and how to be responsible. These lessons weren’t always easy or fun, and sometimes they even seemed unfair. But they had a purpose. After all, isn’t it difficult or unpleasant when we have to deal with people who don’t use good manners or act as if they don’t know right from wrong? Well, had you not been taught these things along your journey or coming-of-age, you too would be that person that isn’t being the best he or she can be.
In the story, A Slip In The Right Direction, when Slip finds himself in a good place but at a bad time, and he worries about getting in trouble because of what he’s done, he finds comfort in the voice and advice of an unknown man he talks to on the phone when he calls the police station. Oftentimes, useful help and advice can come from a positive stranger. Still, always seek out a parent, guardian, teacher, social worker, or other adult that listens to you and will direct you in a positive way toward a good solution. And remember: for every challenge a solution exists. Soon, as you continue your walk in life and come-of-age, it will be your turn to guide and assist someone else along their unique journey in life. Slip eventually got his turn to make a difference and help others and was able to become a positive influence in the very hometown he originally disliked.
Clifton Henderson learned that growing up meant that no one knows what twists and turns life will take you and that no one is perfect, including him and his parents, and that we all learn by making mistakes. For him, growing up meant to look for the good things in life and appreciate what he had instead of dwelling on what he didn’t have. He also learned that helping others was important too.
So, what have you learned about growing up, and what do you like most about coming-of-age?
Praise for Young Adult Novella: A Slip In the Right Direction
Part 1 of The Clifton Henderson series
» “A Slip In The Right Direction speaks to an all too familiar reality of America’s Black and Brown folk who are in a day-today struggle to survive.”
— Bruce George, Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam and Founder of The Bandana Republic
» “A Slip In The Right Direction is a coming-of-age- story. Highly recommended for both young and old.”
—- Dr. Maxine Thompson, Author of Award-Winning novel, Hostage of Lies
» “…Thought provoking and well written. Young readers will be texting their friends about the book and eagerly awaiting the sequel.”
—- Brian W. Smith, Bestselling Author of the novel BEATER
Meet Author Rachel Berry
Rachel Berry is a word-fairy that enjoys the craft of words that create and inspire life and people. As an author and poet Rachel feels blessed to have the creative opportunity of expression. Berry is also a motivational speaker, mentor, community leader, independent book publisher, entrepreneur, columnist for SORMAG, and host of From The Heart & Soul Show on Blog Talk Radio. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband, adult children, grandchildren, and parents.
Connect with Rachel Berry, CEO Kimathi Enterprises & Publishing Company