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Each year, hundreds of thousands of young people accept diplomas and degrees, taking major steps into new adulthood. If you happen to be one of them: Congratulations! However, whether you’ve just finished high school, earned an undergraduate degree, completed graduate or professional school or left your days of formal education to distant memory, one thing is true: It is never too early to move beyond mere adulthood and graduate to Grown.

In the Grown Zone, we differentiate between being an adult, and being “Grown.” All it takes to become an adult is to survive puberty; it is simply a matter of biological maturation—from infant, to toddler, to child, to tween, to teen, and then, adult. However, it is a mistake to view adulthood as the final stage of personal growth. Stopping at mere adulthood is the equivalent of arrested development, just as it would be if you stopped at any of the previous stages of maturation.

The alternative is not something that just happens, but must be a conscious choice to continuously learn, grow and to increase your capacity to give and accept love throughout your lifetime. Above all else, moving beyond adulthood is about taking full and complete responsibility for choosing what is healthy (physically, emotionally, mentally and financially) and self-loving for you, ahead of what pleases or meets the approval of others. That’s what it means to be Grown.

Here’s the good news, especially for newly minted high school and college grads, and others facing the often intimidating challenges and choices of early adulthood: You don’t have to wait to grow old to choose Grown. You can start by accessing the guidance, tools, inspiration and resources of Grown Zone Relationship Education. Here are three reasons you should do this now:

You’ll make fewer unhealthy choices. Sure, you have your education. But what about life outside of the classroom? Right now, you are facing the real world armed with nothing but your hopes and dreams, what you’ve learned from popular culture, and the advice and examples (sometimes misguided, often disastrous) of your family, friends and peers. Look around you. Do you find any of that reassuring?

In the Grown Zone, we provide guidelines, boundaries and standards for personal growth, as well as the tools and resources to apply them to your life, think independently, and challenge the things that you’ve been taught to believe that may no longer be healthy for you (if they ever were).

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