I had an interesting conversation with some dear lady friends the other night. The topic? What makes an adult.
We are 30, 32, and 34 and the argument against us being adults went something like this,
“I have two degrees but live with my parents.”
“I own a house but my mom pays my phone bill and I’m a student.”
“I own a car and a house but wouldn’t be able to without family help.”
“I pay all my bills but not always on time.”
None of us have kids yet. We all have bachelor degrees. We’ve all lived in foreign countries, traveled extensively, and worked a variety of jobs. Are we adults?
I remember when I was a kid I thought being an adult meant being able to recognize which language someone was speaking, understanding investing, and being able to navigate public transportation, all things that alluded me as a kid on a farm in West Virginia.
Through my twenties I would periodically check in with myself, similar to my conversation with those lovely ladies the other night. I distinctly remember that I didn’t feel adult enough to get married until I was 26 (which now sounds young to me!). By 28 I didn’t feel ready to buy a house or have kids but moving to a foreign city of 10 million and finding an apartment totally happened. Throughout these check ins my resounding response to the question “am I an adult yet?” was “nope”.
I hit a turning point around 30. It’s definitely not that I all of a sudden grew up and got super responsible. Kinda the opposite. I realized that that moment of growing up and becoming an adult never actually happens. It’s a super slow process that can sometimes only be seen in retrospect. It’s acknowledging that if you are the kind of kid who never has their shit together than unless you take steps to change it, that’s the kind of adult you will be or maybe already are. On the other hand, some people are born with their shit together. Neither makes you more grown up, neither makes you a better person. The truth is adulthood is a huge spectrum and is different for every single person.
Here are 6 things that made me realize that the time had arrived, damnit, I’m an adult now. These are all super personal to my journey and in no way comprehensive but I thought I’d share.
- I accept, embrace, and even cherish vulnerability and “flaws” in others and myself more than I ever could through my teens and twenties. Life is super messy, for some more than others and at some times more than others, but it’s messy and tremendous and beautiful and hella challenging. Doing the best you can is doing the best you can.
- I (usually) keep track of my usernames and passwords. And have matching socks and clean towels and manage to both keep track of my bills and pay them on time. These are those types of dis-organizational things that frustrated me and made me feel irresponsible, so I got it together and made some changes to make me feel more on top of my shit. Usually.
- I’ve made big decisions about my health on my own. A few years ago when I dealt with the cervical cancer scare, I had the distinct rationalization that no one else could make the decision whether or not to have the LEEP procedure for me, I had to figure it out myself. Which brings me to number 4…
- I am learning when to ask for help. I honestly used to think that it made me weak and irresponsible to need help. Now I am realizing that EVERYONE needs help at different points in their life, some more than others but everyone needs help.
- I’m not (as) afraid of asking ‘dumb’ questions. Before I was an adult I was afraid of looking or sounding immature or under-educated. Now I realize that we all have our strengths and areas of expertise. I have a lot to add to most conversations but there are certain topics that I am completely ignorant about. Asking basic questions doesn’t make me uneducated, just the opposite, it teaches me so much!
- I am SO much more comfortable in my skin than I ever have been. Over the last few years I realized that there are many, many women (men too, to a lesser extent) that live their entire lives feeling insecure, uncomfortable, unhappy and/or self-loathing about what their body is or isn’t. I found this realization really sad, I think I had previously held out a hope that “adult” women are too busy with adult stuff to have these concerns. Ha! Sadly that’s far, far from the truth. I decided that now was not a moment too soon to start really appreciating my body for what it is, what it’s capable of, and what it will become.
I am just starting my journey as an adult and it’s one I will be on for the rest of my life. I am pretty much banking on looking back at this post in 10 years and thinking “my, how you’ve grown Faith, you were just a baby-adult back then at 32.” But you know what? 10 years after that, at 52, I could have the same thought about 42, and so on and so on.
Here’s to embracing that long, exciting, terrifying journey.
Do you consider yourself an adult? Why or why not?