rebelling against low expectations

19 Things I’ve Learned About Growing Up


This summer I become an adult.

At least, according to my country. I turn 19, and that basically means I can do lots of boring things legally — like get a credit card. My, what fun.

It’s weird to think that I’ll be labeled a “grown up.” I still feel like I have a lot of growing up left to do. And I do! But I’ve grown up a lot since I was 13. Or 14. Or even 15.

And there are things I’ve learned along the way — 19, in fact. Nineteen truths about growing up.

1. It doesn’t feel like you thought it would.

There are bad things I thought would be better and amazing times I thought would be way worse. All I have to say is: culture does a horrible job preparing kids to grow up. They give us all these pictures and ideas, and that’s never how it turns out.

2. Growing up means responsibility in every area of life.

I’m learning what it means to take responsibility for my sin, to be responsible in my finances and my time and my work, and to not shirk duty when it calls.

3. Faithfulness in the little stuff is just as important as faithfulness in the big stuff.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).

4. Your parents are your greatest allies in life, your most winsome problem-solvers, and your smartest teachers.

Don’t push them away. Don’t ignore them. Instead, run to them. Take your deepest problems and struggles and fears and questions to them. Even when you don’t feel like it, they are here for you.

5. Growing up feels like being stretched, being filled full and then emptied, being yanked out of your comfort zone, and thrust into unfamiliar territory.

You’re starting to realize that the world is a lot bigger than you ever thought it was. And that means your comfort bubble is going to get quickly popped. Growing up means growing, and growing means growing pains.

6. “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce

7. Anything is achievable with hard, hard work.

This is not a ra-ra self-promoting sentiment, like I’ve learned that I’m so strong I can do anything with my own power! It’s the simple, foundational truth behind Do Hard Things — life for God’s glory is meant to be spent pursuing good, hard deeds as you live to the fullest.

8. You don’t have to have everything figured out.

What a relief. That is all.

9. Besides, life never happens just like you think it will.

When I was 12, I had a very different idea of where I would be at 18. I pictured myself as a freshman at Boyce College, happily training to be a teacher. Instead I’ve graduated from a state university with a degree in communications and am pursuing writing full-time. There’s so much wisdom in Solomon’s proverb: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Prov 19:21).

10. Good, gutsy, transparent, loving friends are hard to come by.

So find them and keep them close. You need them to encourage you and be brutally honest with you, to serve you and confront your sin, to pray with you and for you. And you need to be that friend.

11. Books are counselors, guides, paradigm-shifters, world-processors, and indispensable to the thinking, growing Christian.

After Scripture (the only perfect book), there are so many books that have taught me about the world and godliness and life. Without John Piper and Charles Dickens, my growth would have been different.

12. Worrying never, ever, ever pays off.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:25-27)

13. Joy is a choice. And a fight.

It’s not just a mushy feeling. It’s not our default position either. It’s an active, day-to-day, sometimes kicking-and-screaming commitment to delight in God — even when circumstances are bad. No, especially when circumstances are bad.

14. If you aren’t tethered to the Bible, you will drift away like a broken balloon, dying and blowing whichever way the strongest wind takes you.

15. Everything you’ve done is experience. Learn from it.

The good, the bad, and the ugly — it all makes up your life. Make those experiences count for your greater good by learning from them.

16. Growing up is simultaneously gloriously fun and terribly messy.

17. Growing up means having to say you’re sorry — a lot.

You’ll have to ask forgiveness a lot from a lot of people. But that’s a sign of maturity and humility, a big step in growing up and growing more like Christ.

18. Prayer is your life-line.

It’s not a Christian tack-on, a take-it-or-leave-it idea. It’s my lifeline. I need it. I forget that a lot, but the older I get, the more I see how the strongest and happiest Christians depend on prayer.

19. Growing up is a season to grow in godliness through new opportunities, new struggles, new failures, new successes, new trials, new joys, and new life.

Whatever you do, friends, don’t waste it.

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Photo courtesy of Amanda Tipton and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Great article Jaquelle! I hear ya about life never happening the way you think it will. I’m 16 now, and I had a very different idea of what 16 would look like when I was say 10 or 11. I thought 16 was the age. I would be able to drive, get a job, start living life outside my house. But it’s strange. Now that I’m there, after a long day at work, I just want to go home. Sure I get to drive, but I also have to pay bills and study really, REALLY hard to keep my grades up.

    All my life I lived looking at the future’s horizon. And now that adulthood is looming, I’m just trying to make the most of every moment with my family and friends.

    This is to serve as a warning to all who read: Don’t waste too much time looking into the future. A little planning is good, but live in the moment.

    Thanks Jaquelle!

    Hope this helps.

    • You are dead on, Martial Artist. That is something I’ve had to keep relearning. Sometimes I can plan to a fault, and then I feel overwhelmed when my plan changes. I’ve had to keep learning trust. And I’ve had to make a resolve to take this moment, this moment right now, and choose to glorify God in it. Oh, that’s hard, though. Thank you for bringing this up. I needed it. 🙂

      • Planning is something that comes naturally to me. . .so it can be easy to be like. . .”Oh I’m going to do this, this, and this.” And then think “Oh, I guess I should include God in my plan.” When really God should be the very center.

    • I too am 16 and I know how you feel. When I was about 10 I thought 16 year olds were adults! But now I’m here and I still feel like I’m a kid. But I’m a kid with two nieces and tons to learn about stepping into adult hood in a couple short years. It doesn’t seem real that in a little over a year I’ll be classified as an “adult” let’s just put it this way. I still have a LOT to learn growing up.

      Great article! I can relate to many of those 19 things.

      • same here! sixteen and both looking forward to and dreading the next couple years. It doesn’t seem possible that I’ll be an adult soon. I’m definitely not ready yet! 🙂

        • Yeah. And I’m the youngest in my family so it feels strange still being a child while my brothers are beginning their own families as adults. Dreading/looking forward to. Yup that’s me. I mean I want to grow up sure! But I now realize I’m a kid for another couple short precious years that I’ll never get back.

          • yes! I’m the oldest, so there’s the extra pressure of paving the way and setting a good example for my younger siblings. There’s a lot of responsibility with adulthood and I’ve always enjoyed leaving all that responsibleness to my parents!

            I mostly worried about having to do my own taxes 😛

          • Oh. I had to do my own taxes this year. 🙂 it’s not THAT hard.

            My oldest brother was in your shoes. And I think he did a pretty good job setting the example for the rest of us.

            I’ve been “adopted” into my best friend’s family so I’m their oldest “sibling” I’ll be their example when it comes to growing up. I just hope I don’t goof it up too bad.

          • lol. My dad told me I have to do mine next year since I’ll be working full time. Don’t like math, not one little bit 🙂
            My biggest fear is that I’ll make a mistake (i’m good at those) and then have my younger sister or brother and their friends think it’s okay since I’m supposed to be their ‘good example.’
            I’ve never liked being in the spotlight or being talked about or even admired. It puts too much pressure on me since I am a definite people pleaser!

          • My dad taught me how to do taxes this year. I didn’t have to do any of my own, he just had me help him with our family’s taxes.

          • that’s fun. My dad told me I would help him this year. Then I think he forgot. It was also a little more complicated because of a move and job change 🙂

          • What! We moved and my dad changed jobs in that year too!!! So weird…
            Yeah, my dad said that this year was more complicated than normal.

    • So many 16 year olds….
      Well, I’m only 13 and I have lots of plans for my future, but I guess for now I should just focus on now. 😛

      • Make every minute count! Cherish the times you get to spend with your family and friends and live in the moment. Planning is okay, just prepare for it all to change.

    • For the randomest reason for a second I thought you said, “A little planning is good, but live in the storm.” But living in the moment’s good too. I’m definitely the kind of person who likes to have goals and dreams. . .but it can be easy to be idealistic or set on something and then if it doesn’t happen or parents don’t agree with your ideas, you get upset and frustrated.

  • Wow-this was sooo encouraging for me. I’m fixing to leave home and family and church but this time indefinitely-not sure how this will end up-good to know I don’t have to have everything figured out! God’s got it! Thanks Jaquelle! Needed to hear this!

  • Thanks sooo much for writing this Jaquelle! I could relate to several of these points and really needed to hear the other ones! I’m turning 18 in less than one month and still can’t believe it! It’s interesting how different things are from what I thought being 16-18 was like when I was younger. I thought that the 16-18 year olds were so grown up and had things figured out by then, but I still feel like a little kid! I sometimes get discouraged when I look back and remember how I didn’t do much maturing or growing spiritually between the ages of 10 and 16. But it’s so amazing to me and I’m so thankful for how much I’ve grown and matured in just the past two years! When I realize that, I get so excited to think where I might be two or three years from now! Anyway, Thanks sooo much for sharing what you’ve learned from your experience so that others can learn from it too!

    • You’re welcome, Sarah. Growing up is so weird, isn’t it? When you’re younger, you always think the older kids must have it so together — and then you become that older kid and you’re like, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” 😉 But God really does grow and mature us as we follow Him, so that’s where we can draw true encouragement. I’m glad my post could bless you!

    • AMEN Sarah!! I definitely thought that about the older kids, and you said just what I feel: I still feel like a little kid! I guess perspective makes a huge difference! 🙂

  • Thank you so much for writing this Jaquelle! I really need to stop worrying about my future, and just enjoy not having any of the stress of high school or a consistent job. Even though I could probably start working now… Sometimes I feel like my life is boring, but in reality, it’s probably just the calm before the storm:)

    • Hey Zee. You’re welcome for the post. I’m glad it encouraged you. I think part of growing up is also taking the time to enjoy where you are in the process. So right now may feel kind of boring, but God is still teaching you and growing you through your present experiences. Speaking personally, I know that’s hard to realize, though. 🙂

  • What exceptional advice. You are like a “voice crying in the wilderness” for your generation. You seem to have an “old soul” like my daughter. May God be increasingly glorified in what you say, do and write. He has truly given you wisdom and insight.

    Always in Him,
    Mrs. Jean

    • Mrs. Jean, you are so kind and encouraging. Thank you! I also pray that God would be glorified in what I say, do, and write. That’s my goal. I miss it a lot, but I still press towards it. Thank you for your gracious comment.

  • Thanks for writing this, Jaquelle! This is very encouraging and helpful to me. I’ll have to admit, I’m looking forward to being older and turning 16 so I can drive and all that, but I do need to just focus on serving God right where I am now. Really, really good article! 🙂

  • I really enjoyed this article, and you nailed it! I moved off to College last fall, and I have found all this to be true. Adulting is quite the experience.

  • I love, love, love, number four. So true! Your analogy on fourteen was straight on. I’ll always think of it that way now. Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, enjoy the moment you’re in while you have it.

  • Jaquelle, thank you so much for this. It was very encouraging to me as a not quite 16 y/o. #14 really stood out to me, and your way with words is splendid. Thanks for sharing these truths you have learned with us 🙂

  • Great post!! I just turned 19 annnd… Well, things aren’t going how I expected or planned, but I’m just trying to figure out where God wants me And what in the world to do with my life. I feel like I’m not going anywhere, but I just quote Jeremiah 29:11 to myself to remind me that God’s got it under control and he will show me what to do when the time comes to do it.

    By the way, what kind of book did you write??

    • Hey Celestria! Thanks for the encouragement, and I am with you all the way on things not going as expected. I guess that’s part of the whole growing up thing. 🙂

      My book is tentatively titled This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years — and it covers just that. I talk about specific areas of a young person’s life that are shaped by the gospel — e.g., relationships, sin, identity, church, entertainment, spiritual disciplines. My manuscript is due on August 1, and it’s slated at this point for a spring 2017 release date. Thanks for asking!

      • Wow that’s so cool to get a book published. Congratulations 😁That must feel amazing! I’ve wanted to write a (fiction) book since forever, but somehow I never can seem to get past the first, like, 5 chapters, lol. I have so many stories in progress it’s ridiculous.

        • If you don’t mind me asking, do you a current project underway? I love hearing about people who want to or are writing fiction. . .

          • *sigh* not really. I never really know what to write about. I can never think of anything good. I think my favorite part is coming up with the characters. Their names, appearance, and personalities. After a few chapters it’s like, okay where am I going with this story..? This is boring lol

          • Yeah, a few of my friends and I did a literature club last year. This year we’re going to focus on outlining our stories so that we know where they’re going.

          • But outlining for like a story is so different from like an essay outline! And if you like characters. . .

          • Thank you for that link! That’s a good reminder about making the villain likeable and other good ideas in there. So glad you posted that. There are other articles I definitely will be reading on there too 😀

            So you have written other stories??

          • I subscribed to the email list, and it’s super helpful!

            As for writing other stories, I’ve written several short stories. . .But, other than my book which I’ve been working on for the last three years, I mostly specialize in poetry. I also have tried my hand at movie scripts but giving up halfway through (hopefully I won’t this time) and on the less ‘creative writing’ side of the equation written blogposts on here. I also wrote a few articles for my personal blog, but that was history. But I’m thinking about blogging again.

          • Have you ever tried to get your stories and poetry published or put in magazines or anything?? Wow I feel like movie scripts would be super hard. Maybe you could do a short film script if you haven’t tried that yet. You know, so it’d be shorter.

            I’ve thought a blog would be cool. But I I don’t know what it’d be about. I need a friend to do it with me and we could take turns and give each other ideas. I basically just write in my journal. It’s private so nobody reads it though.

          • Yeah, I tried to do a poetry competition once, but my poem didn’t get published and it had like guidelines for how to do it. . . aka. hindering my creative juices aka. not really, maybe I’m just too picky.

            Yeah, I’m only on my second movie script (I gave up on the first one, but not really for writing reasons). I think I’m better at writing longer stuff though, cause it’s so hard to end!

            That’s the same way I’ve felt about blogs before. It’s always easier if there’s multiple writers.

          • Well don’t give up!! Nothing would be cooler than getting something published 😀 And I know, coming up with good endings can be hard.

          • I was actually just trying to come up with a new idea for a story today. I thought it might help to try and come up with something my 10 year-old-brother would like. ‘Cause I pick out books for him at the library and stuff and write dumb little comics for him and so I kinda know what he likes and what makes him laugh.

          • Hmmm. . .Interesting idea. Yeah, I’m writing a book right now that’s sort of aimed that age range (10-12).

  • Awesome article! I loved all the points you made, but 15 really stood out to me because I’ve been realizing that everything I do contributes to the better, future, me that God has created me to become, and that He is with me, loving me, every step of the way there.

    • Hey, Ethan! Welcome to the Rebelution. Good point. It’s much easier to see looking back how God has changed us and formed us, but sometimes it can be hard to see how he’s working right now. Good first comment!

  • Great article! And I just noticed that Thomas Edison State University is the same college that my older sister just graduated from last year! So cool!

  • This means a lot to me considering I just became a teen and I’m sort of freaked out by it. Thank you for this. This helps me in my walk with God in more ways then one.

    • Happy teen-ness! It’s an adventure. It can be hard. It can be fun. Sometimes, you’ll feel down. Sometime, you’ll love your life. But being a teen is definitely an interesting time, and that’s coming from someone right in the middle.

      • It’s definitely a different experience. That I will probably never forget. Unless my awful memory allows me to 😉

  • Thank you for this article. The section about worrying really meant a lot to me, since I am a worrier. The verse your provided is wonderful. Thank you.

    • Yeah, I know. Especially on the edge, where I am, I can go over and over stuff, and wish I had done… or hadn’t done…

  • I read this a few days ago and have been wanting to comment! I’m getting close to graduating, and I’m realizing how true some of these truths are. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to grow up right then, but as the time gets closer, I’m a bit scared. I’m still in between, and I’m trying to realize that I can’t be what I was, and if I try to be that, I can’t be what I am. Life is for sure way different than I had planned for myself. Some of my ideas back then are completely nuts now!! However, it’s hard to learn from those experiences that whatever I plan now is not hard nor fast!

    • “…I can’t be what I was, and if I try to be that, I can’t be what I am.” Wow…so true!
      I was actually the opposite when I was little, I remember several times where I actually cried because I didn’t want to grow up!
      I had some pretty crazy ideas when I was little, too. One time I drew a washer & dryer that had a tube going between them so you wouldn’t have to switch them yourself, lol!

  • Hmmmmm…Thank you for your wisdom, Jaquelle! I sometimes have trouble admitting that I’m still just a kid and I have a lot of growing up to do. I can see how I have grown, but there is sooo, sooo many ways that I must keep growing.

    4. Is so true!!!! Yay for parents! #10 also. . .But your point is great. “Be one.”

    Oh, and #11. . .books are the best! Fiction too. John Piper and Charles Dickens are both hard reads, so good job! We listen to John Piper’s podcast almost every night. . .But he’s so hard to read! Lol.



    #15-Hmmmmmm. Yes. . .yes. . .YES!!!

    #16-I wrote a poem about this once. Okay. That’s not true. I’m sure I’ve probably written more than one.

    #17-Hmmm. The brother of a friend of my sister’s who lives in Canada (Haha, Jaquelle! Canada.) came to visit and do some talks. He so exemplifies this, and I really admire that quality. Apologizing can be so embarrassing sometimes, but it’s good! I wish I was better at this 🙂

    #18-God’s really been trying to get my attention about prayer lately.


    Question: Are these in order of the age you learned them? That would mean I’m at 15. . .

  • I recently became an adult as well, and being an adult is so much harder than I thought it was going to be. Thank you for these tips, Jaquelle!

  • I feel like I have already grown up and I am only 14 going on 15 in July. I say that because my family is a mess right now and I am the most mature. I am trying to keep my older siblings and younger brother in line because they are immature in their life right now. I ask my dad almost daily how are we gonna get through this, and he said by faith, hope and especially with God’s help. I barely have fun because I am always on my siblings about maturity and growing up (and they are 16 and 17, and the youngest is 12). My mother doesn’t see what I do for this family because she and my sister are the main cause for the mess in my life. But when I do have fun, I enjoy every minute and if I am alone with friends, I enjoy the freedom from my siblings, and I feel bad. Right now I am the example in this house, I have surpassed my older sister (who is 17) with all aspects of life. I am on top of trying to get a job this summer, helping my family daily, and most of all being mature. I hope you pray for me and my struggles and pray that my siblings will mature.

rebelling against low expectations

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