what's the hardest part of growing up? we asked, you answered

​Sharing your truths and tales on Fac​e​book and Instagram, some of you looked back while others peeked inside their present. Over five hundred comments later, secrets were shared, pearls of wisdom picked and calls for help answered.

by i-D Staff
19 August 2015, 6:40pm

Our youth is a comedy of errors, full of excruciating, awkward moments and exhilarating "fuck it" moments. Some memories fade in the haze of new realities, but others stay with us and they can still make us laugh, wince, smile and cry. After traipsing the streets of London and beyond for The Coming of Age Issue to ask the next generation how they fared when the growing pains kicked in, we opened the floor to you. Join the discussion below...

What's the hardest part of growing up?

"The hardest part of growing up is when you begin drawing constant comparisons between your life and other people's. You start to get the hang of who you want to become; you've met your best self and your worst self. Suddenly, this discovery of our authentic self gets stunted by the facades of Instagram, celebrities, and the 'popular girls' at school. You're mesmerized by all of these people's worlds that you don't give yourself time to truly let yourself be authentically 'you'. Standards of perfection start to paralyze you and no one gives you a chance to be ugly. It sounds so esoteric and weird to allow yourself the gift of being genuinely and disgustingly human 100% of the time, but that's what growing up is. It's recognizing that comparisons will kill you, then letting them. And then figuring out the hard way that you can't let them, then letting them kill you again anyway." @rilkanoel

"The hardest thing about growing up is knowing that in like five years, we're all gonna realize that all these tiny little problems that mean the world to us now, most likely won't exist, and all the memes everyone created about teenage struggle are gonna be irrelevant." @_sidetracked

"Losing the idealistic sense of yourself and others. Admitting that you've made all the mistakes you were convinced you would never make as an adolescent." @evelinekeizer

"Remembering how you used to play as a child and having to give up that joy that you shared with siblings or friends. You can never go back to that. You have to be 'grown up.' Personally I can't wait to have children so I can experience that joy again." Anna Brown

"Understanding your self worth in a world that constantly tells you there's something wrong with you." Isabella Colantoni

"Realizing your parents are fallible." Adrian Lukas

"Re-visiting places you thought were massive but really you were just tiny and they aren't as fun to be in anymore." Hannah Crowe

"When people start labeling you before you even know yourself." Ib Brontè

"Sacrificing things out of necessity." James McGovern

"Realizing that you are the only person who can make decisions for yourself, and that it takes so much effort and courage to become who you really want to be. To understand that friends and family love you but don't always understand you, and eventually life is a solitary road that we have to walk alone for the most part." Athena Chen

"Not knowing whether your feelings are legitimate because you are told that a lot of the time it's just hormones. Constantly questioning yourself about everything and just trying really hard to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life whilst dealing with the pressure to conform to the standards that society gives us." Issy Medworth

"The hardest part of growing up for me was gradually losing the freedom which exists in knowing nothing. In adolescence you develop a sort of philosophical questioning of everything in your life, and that can be both empowering and confusing as you come to discover that the more you know about the world and yourself, the more indeed there is to know." Madelaine Bowman

"Finding who you are and being accepted by society for that. Also, figuring out what you are going to do with your life before it's too late." Maria Sgourou

"The constant awkwardness of yourself and thinking 'who am I? What am I doing here?'" Katie Carroll

"People coming in and out of your life and having to say goodbye." Nicolas Marcs

"Unconsciously being less willing to be dazzled by the little things." @derdonk

"Letting go." @blckwaves

"The hardest part of growing up is realizing that you're alone in this world and the only person you can rely on/trust is yourself." @mariasilvia_g

"Knowing you can never grow back down again." @elliedemps

"The hardest part of growing up is simply accepting the idea of rejection and understanding what your true identity is. Conflicted is a word that truly reveals the state of mind of a teenager. The youth face different forms of rejection but more importantly they are confronted by people with big egos who want to alter who they are, resulting in the loss of their genuine identify. The hardest part of growing up is accepting these things and still continuing with daily life even when everything is 'not okay.'" @tayloor_t

"Growing up is learning that not everyone grows up with you. Growing up is learning that people are going to be left behind by the process of life. Growing up is learning drug culture and finding your happy medium before life finds it for you. Growing up is learning that everyone still needs nap time, but it never actually happens after daycare. Growing up is adhering to the 'so important and unbreakable' gender roles and fitting in, and also finding yourself and who you are, no matter who might not accept it. Growing up is knowing that all we need is kindness and genuineness, but what we really must survive by is lying, dirt, and cheating. We all know what's right in our hearts, it's something that human nature instills within us upon birth, but growing up separates the strong from the weak. More importantly growing up separates the good from the evil. The hardest part? Choosing your side." @malmerk

"Understanding that nothing is constant. And that mistakes actually just make you better at being you, which is the best thing you can do. For you, for the world." @naervaerket

"The hardest part for me was people accepting me for me. I always lied about my age because I had more in common with people older than me. Now I'm 20, almost 21, and I didn't have a real childhood, I won't experience innocence, I can't get back the years of being a kid." @angelbunnythug

"Who you thought you would become, isn't who you become. And then you're left navigating the uncertain aftermath, while everyone around you is also scrambling to make sense of shifting tides." @wildnothing

"The hardest part of growing up is figuring yourself out, knowing who you truly are, accepting yourself, and expressing yourself, especially because of criticism, it's hard to be yourself when people don't accept you for who you are and want to make a different personality of you. Making you confused, following the crowd and losing your individuality and identity, unable to stand up for what you believe in. Not being comfortable in your own skin, our surrounding." @ehf_designs

"Everyone thinks that your teenage years are about finding yourself and discovering who you are, but really you create yourself. You take in all aspects of your environment and culture and consume to form a sense of what makes up who you are but then you continue to reinvent yourself even after your teenage years. The identity crisis that is common amongst teenagers just becomes familiar as we grow older." @charlyfozz

"It's simple: Growing up is giving up!" @pnlessard

"As a girl going on 16, the most profound thing I've learned is that growing up is so different for everyone. It baffles me how limited each person's perspective is because it is subject to what you've grown up with and the people you surround yourself with. I can't stress enough how odd I find it, that all I know and have the capacity to know is what I know. Knowledge actually is power but in a stranger way than I used to think and perspective is only so wide." @mascaramartha

"So many decisions to make. Which are the right ones? Which are wrong? Growing up is being in a constant state of moving forward and stumbling back; all in an attempt to figure out exactly what life is about, who you really are. It's hard. Being alone is hard. Making mistakes is hard. Having to get up and keep going afterwards is the hardest part." @khanyeeesa

"Feeling like no one understands you is something I've struggled with for such a long time because emotional health is extremely important and affects everything you do! And you're totally right, only your own self-validation can truly help you. Everything takes so much time and as I recently learnt in science, teenagers have so many chemicals running through their body during the teenage years. So basically everything is heightened, the ups, the downs, the speed at which time passes from your viewpoint." @mascaramartha

"Confusion, illusion, strength, trying, always trying for something better, bigger... an explosion of emotions - a big dizzy pile of them coming through, coming out, being lost, being found, screaming, yelling, crying; and in the end if there is an end... you are you, you make yourself, you stitch yourself out of pure magic, out of experiences and difficulties! You choose who to be and how to be! Growing up is about choices and having the strength and the power to live up to the results, to live with what you have created!" @fotinikm

"For me, the hardest part of 'growing up' is when you can recognize the changes happening around you, and when you realize that some things will simply never be the same. It can be heartbreaking, and make you feel powerless when you become aware of these shifts. So I think growing up is an endless process. We are constantly going through new transitions and experiences, always learning to adapt and create new aspects of ourselves." @jonahrsanchez

"Changing things about yourself that you don't like, but are the inevitable result of your upbringing. And, in the process, not falling into the unhealthy attitude of blaming your parents and siblings for everything that you are and that has or hasn't happened to you. Also, fighting with yourself, tooth and nail, every day, to not give in to cynicism." @jzhangalova

"Growing up is transforming every challenge in life into an opportunity of self strength and maturity. It's facing any hardship either in work or amongst people you love with a positive outlook and holding on no matter what, gaining strength and determination is difficult but it's the only way to move forward when life gets tough." @zenz_a

"The hardest part about growing up is constantly being told to appreciate what you have in the moment, even though in that moment it feels like all you have is problems. From the age of six to your twenties, there are always people trying to teach you to live in the moment and love it, but no matter how simple or naive your problems are, they always get in the way. Whether it be wanting a trip to the candy store you know you will not get, a desire to grow up faster, the seeming need for a lover, a dreaded pimple... Something that is actually insignificant can easily block your understanding of how wonderful you have it at that time in life. Of course there are happy moments for every child, tween, teen and twenty something, but it seems to me that you only really realise how great it was to be a child, tween, or teenager once the simplicities of that time are taken away from you. Your problems that seemed so catastrophic back then would be a walk through the park now, and you find yourself becoming the lame-o old person that tells other youngsters to appreciate their responsibility-free lives. The vicious circle of learning appreciation is one of the many hard things about growing up." @kittycatty666

"The hardest part of growing up is realizing you never do. The more your grow, the more you learn, the more you see how little you understand. The challenges grow bigger, the losses deeper, the risks scarier. But we also learn what true love feels like (through friends, family and lovers). Through layers of scars and experiences, pain enhances beauty. And when we let go, and succumb to the fact that we aren't as grown up as we think we are, happiness becomes more attainable, more beautiful and more precious." @mprichard22

"I think the hardest part of growing up to me, as a woman, was realizing that I didn't need to fit into this general notion of femininity established by the society to feel like a 'real' grown up. It sounds easy but it was really hard to come to terms with not always wearing make-up, like my older sisters, or shaving my legs and stop feeling like I was still being this awkward girl trying to come to terms with her body." @ennacamargo

"The absolute hardest part about growing up is the feeling of being useless. You want to make a great change in the world but you have student loans, you want to become a game changer but there is so much unknown, a great deal more than what is known. It's important to work hard, but also give time to relaxing and enjoying life, and I think not only growing up but the entire life ahead of you is a constant battle to balance these in order to stay joyful and have personal success without anxiety." @eevilandroid

"Realizing that you can't say what you want anymore without consequences. As a child you're brutally honest about everything and then there comes a point when you have to start thinking before you open your mouth." @poshkat80

"Understanding when something is no longer serving you and moving on. Throughout your childhood you become friends with people out of convenience (who lives near you, your parents' friend's kid, etc.) and you do what society and your parents tells you is right. Although, when you hit high school in those teenage years, you begin to develop your own mind and you are forced to make those decisions on your own; you leave toxic friends behind, you quit the sport you played your whole life, etc. To abandon something that you have grown up with, that is comfortable, is excruciating and has so many memories attached to it. You're left with an insecure teenager trying to redefine themselves." @jenna_jarosinski

"Sifting through a lot of the illusions from your childhood and redefining the world around you. Realizing that happiness and true acceptance comes from within. Learning to love yourself fully." @promisenewell

"Realising your independence. When you were a kid, there was always someone to take care of you, hear you, see you. You were basically the centre of the universe. As time goes by and you grow up, you are no longer the centre of the universe, and giving that spot away is such a weird emotion. We always strive to be as independent as possible, but always with someone as the onlooker. Growing up is hard when your parents don't think it a big deal being away from you, when you are no longer the first one to get your present, having to cook your own lunch. The world can become such a lonely place suddenly, with you now having to decide your centre of the universe, and no longer be it for other people. The realisation of your independence. Such a daring and scary thing." @claraeddy

"Growing up in a shitty town where freedom is only a theory and individuality a sin. Dancing in the dark in a masquerade of fake heroes becomes a routine. Life transforms into a constant battle and only when you hit bottom it becomes obvious that dreams and freedom are irreplaceable." @vasileioszarodimos

"The hardest part of growing up is realising everything has an ending. The pages of life, love, friendships, good and bad times, the night, that kiss, the memories... all are finite! So it's best to savour every single moment you can... because when it's all said and done... It's done!" @_ilpadrone_

Inspired? Either share your truths below or on Facebook and Instagram.


Photography Matt Jones
Styling Havana Laffitte
Styling assistance Rochelle Adam
Printing at Lovely NYC
Models Alice Vanessa Metza and Alexander Prado at Society
Alice wears top Alexander wang. Choker Claire's Accessories. Jewellery model's own. Alex wears jacket and T-shirt Prada. Hat model's own.
[The Coming of Age Issue, No. 338, Pre-Fall 15]

Growing Up
the coming of age issue