Edge of Everywhere

What makes you feel like a grown-up?

Posted on: April 2, 2009

Yesterday, some of my female coworkers got into an interesting discussion about how old they were when the finally felt like adults. For most of them, it was tied to when they had their first child. I’m never going to have kids, and I started wondering what it will take for me to finally feel like an adult. I lead an independent adult life, but I have never identified with the concept of adulthood because I have no interest in so many of the things other people equate with it (sex, marriage, kids, a draining decades-long career requiring suits and long hours, boring parties involving wine). Come to think of it, when I was a teenager, I didn’t identify that with that word, either. I didn’t want the things others teenagers wanted, and was embarrassed by the desires and antics of my peers (having oral sex in the corners of junior-high parties, getting so drunk they had to go to the hospital). I remember telling my mom not to refer to me as a teenager, but I didn’t feel like I was still a child either (although my peers did). I’m not sure whether I’ll ever identify with the adult world.

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11 Responses to "What makes you feel like a grown-up?"

That’s a good question. I wonder when I should consider myself adult.

I most felt like a grown up when I got my first full time job and paid all my own bills and lived by myself. But really there are so many ways to grow up that I don’t know if anyone ever really finishes growing up 🙂 There are always new ways to grow no matter how old you get. At least that’s my opinion at 48 years of age.

I’ve been thinking about this lately too, because whenever someone gets engaged or pregnant, someone else inevitably says, “Wow, we’re really growing up!” However, I think there are pretty much 2 indicators of adulthood– either the age of 18 or emotional maturity (although it’s hard to say what “emotional maturity is”, so I tend to consider anyone beyond their teens an adult, if in name only).

Like you, I didn’t relate to the interests of my peers when I was a kid. While I was interested in stuff like environmental issues, my peers were interested in stuff like…boys. I was extremely well-read and knew more than my teachers on some subjects, but I related more to animals than other people. It was very rare to meet other kids that were like me. Granted, besides my lack of interest in boys, this had nothing to do with being asexual.

Now, I don’t feel like the other adults either. However, I HATE being called a kid. I also get patronized a lot– after a presentation I gave at work recently, someone actually said, “You are so cute!” I feel like after 24 years on this earth, I’ve earned the exalted status of adulthood. 😉 If feeling like an adult means that you and your life are “normal”, then I will never feel like one. So, might as well just be arbitrary about it.

I’m 22 and have been out of college for almost a year now and working a typical office job. I’m not married, have no kids, don’t own a house or rent an apt, drink wine, etc (in other words: I don’t feel like an adult). The hardest thing is going out to lunch with my coworkers and hearing them talk about their kids and the only thing I can think of to say starts with “Well when I was kid…” which would really make me look young. Plus someone once retorted with, “You still are a kid.” Yeah, thanks. So I think getting married and having kids is when I’ll feel like a grown up, even if I do have a grown up job.

Here is where the saying “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.” comes to mind.

I think that independence would be a good criterion for being an adult. Being able to take care of oneself and having a job would be an obvious sign that one is grown up.

I’m a token youngster in many of my social circles, so it’s hard to feel grown up. (I’m 19, and many of my friends are in their 50s.)

I’ll worry about that when I graduate from uni.

maybe it also has to do with moral maturity rather than the other kinds of maturity and that’d be linked with emotional maturity. You all seem to say that adulthood has to do with self-sufficiency. Let’s add a lessening of selfishness to that (because we take on responsibilities). having a child is a totally selfish act, is there any non-selfish reason to have a child? Schopenhauer and I think not and I don’t know anyone who can argue against that. Thus having a child is immature and people delude themselves by saying things like ‘they are grown-ups’ after they had a child. Realising that fact made me feel grown-up

I think that I’ll consider myself an adult the day I have a full-time job and can afford to pay my own bill and rent, like Cathy said. When it comes to emotional maturity, according to my mom I’m having my teenage crisis right now (I’m 24) and I guess that since I had all the usual awkward experiences with the opposite sex between 19 and 23, instead of in my early teens like most people, she is probably right.

I feel I’m in the last stages of becoming a grown-up, because I have a pretty clear idea now of what I want my life to be like, and I have begun making some important life choices. I have decided what kind of person I want to be, and I am well on my way to becoming that. I am still one year and half a semester away from finishing graduate school, and I think that by that time I should have turned into an adult.

I considered myself an adult after the first time I realized that I could buy candy in any amount I desired without permission.

I can`t help but think that`s backwards…

Funny, with me is quite the opposite, whenever I buy candies or crisps or any other form of junk food I always feel my mom’s presence over my shoulder looking on and disapproving.
As I too can’t really see myself neither as married nor as a parent, I guess the moment when I will feel like an adult will be when I will start living on my own. Or then again it might never actually happen, after all I know I never really felt like a teenager either.

I’m trying to figure that one out too. I have 2 kids and I still don’t feel like a grown up. Maybe being a grown up is a state of resignation to misery and a loss of imagination that I have yet to attain.

My daughter and I had this discussion today. She is 29, works as a nurse,is a newleywed and doesn’t feel like an adult. I told her I didn’t feel like an adult until my Mommy died. I was 50 years old, she died at 70. The responsiblity of selling my parent’s home, taking on the care of my dementia ridden father, seeing my 3 children graduate from college, going through a divorce, and losing relationships that I thought were permnent, is when adulthood finally arrived. My advise to anyone who doesn’t feel like an adult….ENJOY your adult “childhood” until its gone. Then; enjoy every glimpse of the child in your heart and seek it out! See your inner child as a wide eyed adult. Maybe when I have grandchildren the child in me will be back! We can make snow angels, and splash in the spinklers, run through leaves and laugh out loud!!!! Being grown-up can really suck.

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