Being Grown

Adapted from an article originally posted to

I’m putting my hands on the table and giving full disclosure.  I’m a womanist. (Click here for full definition)

One of the marks of being a womanist is one who is “Interested in grown up doings.  Acting grown up.  Being grown up.  Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.”

For some reason, being grown resonates with me.  It denotes a willingness to be direct and honest about topics/issues that are generally shied away from like sex.  It also gives me a sense of owning my place in the world; the feeling that I have the power to speak up about the things that matter to me.

And to be grown is to be willing to deal with the hard stuff of life.  It’s that moment when the rubber hits the road and we have no choice but to act, respond, and deal with very real, very adult, very important issues.  The silver lining in this harsh reality cloud is the positive side effects that come from being grown.

One side effect is silencing the infamous “they”.  We all have a “they”, know a “they”, or are part of the “they”.  The “they” that are quick to tell us, and anyone who will listen, what the proper, moral and yes “Christian” thing to do is.  “They” is always ready to keep us in line and away from the womanist notion of “know[ing] more and in greater depth than is considered ‘good’ for” us.  “They” are the keepers of the good.  “They” are the standard bearers and dare I say oppressive, restrictive forces whose only mission is to keep us grown folk in line.

Another side effect of being grown is sharing our lived experiences.  I know how relieved I have been when one of my sista-friends shared about their struggles, questions or solutions.  When we share we give space for connection and learning to take place.  We also give space to hear and be heard.

We get to hear about wrestles that are intimately familiar and others that are drastically different.  We’re able to discern the nuanced experience of the single woman who is waiting until marriage to have sex, or the woman who is wrestling with same gender attraction or even the married woman who is sexually unsatisfied in her marriage. Being grown allows us to be present with each other.

Both of these side effects are key markers on the journey towards wholeness.  And truth be told, we have what it takes to be grown and to be whole.  We know how to break free from “they” and share openly about sexuality.   In this bold act of being grown we allow ourselves to engage in worthwhile endeavors that heal the heart, comfort the soul and move us along the continuum of wholeness.

Will you be whole?