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Adulting: Are You an Adult?

I am an adult.

At least I hope I am. Apparently, laws aside, no one agrees on the definition.

For fun, I did a little research, but it took a while to get any type of satisfactory answer.

An interesting article in The New York Post lists top ten signs of adulting based on 2019 polls:

…buying a house (54%), filing your own taxes (52%), understanding and monitoring your credit score (48%), investing in your 401(k) (46%), doing your own laundry (43%), scheduling regular doctor’s appointments (38%), making a list to take when going to the grocery store (35%), cooking dinner most of Monday through Friday (33%) and watching the nightly news (31%)…

A nice attempt, but I really think the list is too simplified. Adults can hire accountants. Adults can read news online. Adults can employ a housekeeper to do the laundry.

I found myself agreeing (somewhat) with Business Insider’s list of “19 Signs You’re a functioning Adult, even if You Don’t Feel Like It.” It included qualities such as “you accept feedback gracefully” and “You ask for help.” But again, the list was too simplistic; I had so many questions. For example, I can “make small talk” (one of the article’s 19 signs), but first, tell me how small talk is defined? And shouldn’t we at least distinguish successful small talk, from say, inappropriate small talk?

I belong to the group of people who overthink. They are my tribe…can you tell? But I digress.

To further complicate things, a BBC article confirms that: People Don’t Become Adults Until Their 30s, Says Scientists. Based on research in neuroscience, the article explains that moving into adulthood is complex and can take up to 30 years. Professor Jones from Cambridge University is pretty candid, and I think his candidacy is needed:

What we're really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd.

For me, that’s a mic drop! By refusing to define any parameters for adulthood, Jones gave me the satisfactory answer I was seeking. Adulting is already full of gray areas, so it makes sense that the transition into it is not clearly black and white either; to try to make it so would be “absurd."

Ironically, it wasn’t until I was in my 30s, sitting in a restaurant with my husband and another couple, that I had any type of noteworthy revelation about my own adulthood. We had spent hours catching up and talking about children, houses, jobs, politics, etc. and with the backdrop of dim lights and tinkling silverware, I realized how grown-up we sounded. I felt…accomplished.

And I still do.

BUT then I feel totally not grown-up for getting excited about being grown-up.


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