I’m soon turning a bit older. I’m probably not that wonder kid that left his home country at an early age to “do great things” anymore. And when potential turns into… the normalcy and mediocrity of life, things may appear to lose their meaning.

I’ve been going to the gym consistently for around a year, and yet, I still feel mellow a lot of times. I’ve been eating as healthy as ever, and yet, I still feel a weird sorrow that I can’t explain where it comes from. I’ve been taking all the sunlight that I can. Journaling as much as I can. Consuming content as little as I can, and yet, none of this is enough to overcome the feeling that life is messy, we have to make decisions, and those not always yield the perfect scenarios we want, and that there’s no escape from this, as making no decisions at all is also a decision.

I name learning to live with this as follows: maturity.

Maturity is not a new concept for me. In my teens, everyone around me would say that “I was as mature as a 30-year-old”, and that I did not act my age. Thing I was (and am) proud of.

However, more and more, I ask myself: was it really maturity? Or just mimetics from growing up surrounded by adults rather than other kids my age, making me want the things the adults wanted?

Was it real? Was I a “maturity-zombie”? Does it matter?

Nowadays, I get to live a very large, fullfilling, and unique life. I live with my partner. I live with one of the most interesting friends I’ve made (who also happens to be my partner’s brother!). I have a german shepherd that I love very much. I live in a city that I choose to be, and not because I need to work here. I still have the freedom to move my life around as I please, if I ever wish to do it. I have a very nice house with all the comforts I could want, and I eat the most amazing food from so many different cusines that a decade ago I thought I’d never be able to taste.

And yet, happiness is elusive. It comes and goes. And I know why.

Because happiness cannot and will never come from external things, relationships, accolades.

But even knowing that, it’s impossible to not feel lost.

“I’ve gone through all that, changed my reality in ways most people can’t even conceive in their lifetime, and yet, I don’t get to feel happy? HOW UNFAIR!!” Exclaims the still-a-teen that didn’t read the fine print.

Maturity must be wholeheartedly accepting that life has its ups and downs, that we will not feel awesome all the time, and that sadness, sorrow, and melancholy can be managed, and most importantly, accepted. That they are also part of a full human experience. Must be, surely?

As a kid, I remember thinking how great it’d be when all my plans worked, so I’d have to deal with none of the negative feelings and traumas I had. No rejections. No impossible dilemmas.  Now I see how narcissistic those thoughts were. Now I see that you can never fully push away feeling bad. Life is relentless. You solve one problem, another takes its place.

I also know now that bad feelings are not bad. That they are part of who I am, of my human experience. That I can acknowledge them, and feel them, and still carry on with my day.

That’s maturity for me. That’s growing up.

And may I keep growing up.