What constitutes adulthood anyway?

(source)

After seeing a young couple on HGTV talking about how buying a home made them feel like adults, I couldn’t help but think about what it actually takes to become an adult. I thought of my 21st birthday — the pivotal age in which you can do almosteverything — and all of the people who told me this was my official portal into being a full-blown adult. At the time I believed what they were saying, but the only thing that actually changed in my life was that I could legally order a beer with my dinner. My age was still just a lousy number incapable of triggering any life-altering moments, and just like I’d felt no different after turning 16 or 18, turning 21 still left me feeling like I was 20. I didn’t have an “aha” moment, and I didn’t automatically feel like a responsible and knowledgeable adult.

I wondered when I would feel like an adult – would it be once I had my first full time job? Started paying for my own car insurance? Took control of my finances? I tried to craft my own adulthood manual in my head, visualizing a check-list of everything I believed to be a right of passage into the next stage of my life. Sooner or later, I’d ticked most of the boxes and was anticipating the final wave of emotion and accomplishment, the reassurance that I’d finally done everything right and could continue advancing on in life. I had a real “big girl” job, I no longer needed financial support from my parents to pay my bills on time and I was in love with an amazing man in a happy and healthy adult relationship. Nothing happened.

At 22, I chose to pack up and move to Florida to be with John. I would have never thought of this event as my turning point, or as my entrance into a new and adult version of myself. At the time I just saw it as following my heart and taking a risk, knowing deep down that it’d be worth it. After moving in March, I started from the ground up, attempting to find a job after only a year of full time work experience. Within a month I had a job at a small marketing company. After years of careless spending I’d made a huge dent in my credit card debt, and I even started saving money. I recently booked a cruise with John and paid for my ticket with some of that money. I started cooking and found myself actually passionate about trying and making new things after years of eating ramen and cereal for dinner. I decided to start this blog and share so many of these experiences with the world. In a mere 6 months, I flourished.

After reflecting on all of this, my day came to an abrupt halt, and I had my moment. In between thoughts of what meals I wanted to make for John’s parents this weekend and typing away on my computer, I all of a sudden noticed how much I’ve changed in the past 6 months. There I was, choosing what recipes to make, when just a few months ago I didn’t even know how to make a baked potato (sad but true). All of the subtle changes in my attitude and outlook on life since my move came together, and I realized that I felt like an adult because I had made it happen for myself. Once I stopped doing all of the things that I thought I needed to accomplish in order to become an adult, I finally opened up my very own path into the next chapter of my life, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

How have you changed as a result of getting older? What has your own path to adulthood looked like?

If you enjoyed this post, follow twenty-something with bloglovin’ for more!

46 thoughts on “What constitutes adulthood anyway?

  1. Pearls and Lace

    Great post, loved reading about your path to adulthood! Congrats on paying off your debt too, that’s a major accomplishment! I remember moving out at 19 and thinking that being independent would make me feel like an adult but working and being in school didn’t really leave me with the feeling of adulthood. Fast forward six years and although I’ve finished my undergrad and I’m married, there are times when I still don’t feel like an adult. I think for me the feeling will come once I’ve completed my Masters and have to opportunity to have the career I’ve been working so hard for!

    xo, jen

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thank you! I felt similar when I went to college, I thought I’d feel so much more grown up being on my own far from home, but I still felt so much like a kid…even after graduation. I always thought I’d hit a certain age and magically feel grown up, but I realize now it’s different for everyone. There isn’t a checklist to complete in order to become an adult, instead we all just eventually reach that point naturally as a result of experiences we have or other things we accomplish. Thanks for sharing your own thoughts, and good luck with your Masters!!

      Reply
  2. fizzandfrosting

    I have to admit, I still don’t really feel like a “grown up”. My life has certainly changed: I graduated college, landed a “big girl job”, I moved in with my boyfriend, got married, started paying more attention to living a healthier lifestyle, and I quit drinking as often; however, I still don’t feel completely like an adult! Maybe it’s just a mindset that I’m not 100% ready to embrace! 😉

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      It’s a timeline that’s completely different for everyone! If I had stayed in Pittsburgh rather than move to Florida to live with my boyfriend, I’m not sure I’d feel entirely grown up yet either. Sure, I had a full time job and was living on my own, but I just didn’t feel like I was quite there yet. Moving completely shifted my perspective on life, and it also helped me realize my full potential. The whole experience has really helped me feel grown up and responsible.

      Reply
  3. albucco10

    First of all, I’m pretty sure we’re brain twins (and I’m pretty OK with that!!), and secondly, I loved this post. I can completely relate to the “when will I feel like an adult” feeling. Every milestone that I thought would catapult me into adulthood has come and gone and I still don’t feel quite there. Financially independent? Check. Apartment renter? Check. Big girl job? Check. I think I’ll forever be chasing adulthood, because there will always be so much to learn. Thanks for another great post, lady! xo

    xo,
    Alyssa
    The Glossy Life

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Agree!! It doesn’t bother me, great minds think alike right? 🙂 You make a good point too, although I’m starting to feel much more grown up than I ever have before, I know this is just the beginning. I don’t know everything there is to know about being a grown up, and I probably never will, but I’m excited to learn! Thanks for reading girl!

      Reply
  4. Rachel

    I’ve always wondered when the “moment” would be when I finally felt like an adult. Going away to college gave me an independence that felt slightly adult-ish, but it wasn’t quite it. I still live at home (because I’m too poor to do otherwise) but work at my first real job and pay my student loans and bills all myself. I think maybe when I move away from home and have little interaction with my parents is when I’ll finally feel like an adult. Or maybe when I get married or have kids. Yikes! Great post Stephanie!

    Life Unsweetened

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      In a way, I think that had a lot to do with me feeling grown up. My family lives in Ohio and I went to school in Pittsburgh, so even though I technically left the nest when I went to college, I was still really close to home and visited often. It was weird when I moved to Florida, because that move was SO much different than when my family took me to college. In a way, it really truly signified that I was becoming an adult woman. Being so far from my family is definitely hard, but it’s helped me grow up so much as a result. I feel like I’ve really found my voice and learned a lot about myself. I’m glad I’m not the only one who was always wondering when I’d have my moment! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Always Maylee

    I love reading your posts on life and love! I don’t think I officially felt like an adult until I bought my first car on my own. That felt that a huge step for me. Even though at the time, I already had a ‘real’ job, was living on my own, and paying my own bills. A big purchase like that, really jolts you. Once I got married, and we bought a house… that was when I officially felt like an old person. HAHA. 🙂

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thank you Yi-chia, I’m so glad you enjoy reading them! I’ve experienced a lot of the things that you’re describing and have to agree – those big purchases/experiences really make you feel grown up. I haven’t bought a car on my own yet since my hand-me-down car from college is still going strong, but when I registered it and bought license plates and switched over to my own car insurance, I felt so grown up! The responsibilities we have as adults are so much different, but I love all the changes that have come with growing older!

      Reply
  6. jennacwest

    I can admit I have not had the realization of becoming an adult yet and like you where I am waiting for that moment like a check list. But I am glad you wrote this because I know it won’t happen once I reach the end of my list but I can see that I am slowly approaching the feeling. I don’t know if it’s because I have matured or “grown-up” faster than my friends but knowing that I cannot go out on a week night because I have a full-time job and I need to save up to move out has made me realize I am slowly approaching adulthood. But I can say I still get excited about candy and ice cream like a little girl so I believe I have a ways to go! haha

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I can definitely relate! I used to go out all the time, even weeknights, but once I started re-prioritizing and working full time, I grew out of that and started growing up. I started being more responsible and thus felt a lot more like an adult. I think I have a long ways to go also and I definitely don’t know everything about getting older or being an adult, but learning as you go is part of the fun of growing up. I’m embracing the new adult me, but I’m still very much in touch with my younger side, too!

      Reply
  7. Amy Shaughnessy

    Great post! Even though I am in my 30s, I sometimes don’t feel like an adult. Yes I am more mature today than I was 10 years ago but sometimes I just feel like a kid. You know what I mean? That is awesome that your culinary skills have grown! I would like to say that mine have as well. (I hope!)

    Amy

    Fashion and Beauty Finds

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I totally know what you mean! I definitely feel much more like an adult than a kid, but I know I still have a TON to learn when it comes to growing up. The culinary thing was definitely one of the most shocking things for me, I never cooked before and now I want to cook all the time. It’s been fun discovering new things that interest me as I get older. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Amy!

      Reply
  8. Jeni Johnson

    Great self reflection post! In actuality I can’t pinpoint my adult ah ha moment! In fact I’m years older than you and yet feel very young. Although I am responsible, a Wife, fur Mom with a career background in Ophthalmic Technology. Perhaps my changes were ever so subtle that it never gave in to relative perspective. I’m okay with that. Ask me in 20 more years and we shall see if I feel like an adult then!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thank you! I think you’re absolutely right, a lot of the changes I experienced were so subtle that I didn’t notice them until I looked back on it. I’m sure in another 20 years I’ll definitely feel way more adult like than I do now, I still have so much to learn and experience!

      Reply
  9. mollystillman

    gosh i love this. there’s so much i could say – but i’ll just say that i both love and hate being an adult. and even though i’m an adult on the outside, i still feel 9 on the inside.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Haha I agree with that! There’s so much that’s fun about being older and getting to do adult things, but there’s a lot I sometimes miss about being a kid too. I guess that’s the magic of being in your twenties, you can still kind of have the best of both worlds. 🙂

      Reply
  10. thestatestreetedit

    I love these posts 🙂 Reading them is like a little glimpse into what my adult life might feel like (because I certainly don’t feel 100% adult now). My mom always jokes that she still feels 16, but with bills and a real career. I secretly hope I feel forever young, even with this impending maturity. 🙂

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I am glad to give you a little taste of it! I definitely still feel very young, but at the same time I’m so much wiser and responsible. I’ve learned a lot since living on my own after graduation, and you will too! I’m not planning on ever letting go of my youthful nature, and I don’t think being an adult means you ever have to stop feeling young, there are just new responsibilities and outlooks that develop in you as a result of getting older.

      Reply
  11. whitney

    what a nice post! I think my ‘grown up’ moments were moving to LA all by myself (and not living in a fun college house with all my best friends) and also, having to figure out and get my own car insurance when my Canadian insurance didn’t work anymore. It’s the little things right?!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Definitely! Paying for my own car insurance and registering my car in my own name was definitely a big adult moment for me. Also, I moved in with my boyfriend who lives in a house, and that definitely made me feel grown up! I have so many more responsibilities now than I ever did in college, but I love the whole experience of being and becoming a grown up. 🙂

      Reply
  12. recreateandrepin

    I don’t think I’ll ever be an adult! In my mind, adults are always older, wiser, more mature. They’ve had more experiences and done amazing things. I think although I may have an “adult” job, “adult” finances, and be in an “adult” relationship, someone will always be “more adult” than I am. I’m okay with that.. being an adult doesn’t sound like much fun anyway!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I agree with you, there’s always going to be someone out there who’s older and wiser and more adult. And yes, there’s not so fun things about being an adult (like all of the added financial responsibility) but at the same time growing up is so exciting and fun. I feel like it’s been such an adventure for me. I also don’t think becoming an adult has to mean the death of youthfulness and fun — adulthood still has a lot to offer too!

      Reply
  13. creamyclothes

    I am 34 and definitely feel like an adult, but it is funny how many times I still wish I had my parents to handle things for me and think “I am not ready to go through this.” Those are the experiences I guess that change us into “adults”. Loved this post1

    creamyclothes.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      So true! There will always be times in life in which I wish my parents could take care of things for me…but I guess doing it on your own is all part of the experience of growing up. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply
  14. sue maxwell

    What a beautiful post…and to think you are mine. You have been on my mind a lot the past few days. I really feel like you have become an adult in the last months too. I love you so much, and am so proud of you. I miss you like crazy and hate not talking enough, but you are living your life, and that makes me happy. You are my everything, sweetie!!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I love you too Mom!! It’s hard to be so far away from home, but I’m glad I made the move. I’m so happy here and have grown up so much. Counting down the days until Christmas 🙂 🙂

      Reply
  15. Emily grapes

    I still think of when it was exactly that I felt like a true adult, and I have no idea. I moved to a new city on my own, found 2 jobs to work, paid all my bills and learned to get by the day after I turned 21, but didn’t feel it.

    I remember I couldn’t wait to get to 25 because that meant I could finally rent a car at the cheapest rate! But by then, I had a serious career, living on my very own in a new city, and paying all my bills responsibly, so it wasn’t a big ah-ha moment. I’ve now lived on my own for the past 10 years, moved myself 12 times, paid all my debt off, saved a bunch, spent a bunch, bought a house, sold a house and owned a number of cars and have been in a serious relationship for years..and KNOW I’m an adult, but don’t have that “I’m a grown up now” feeling. I think it was more gradual for me…I guess. haha
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I can definitely understand that! I felt the same way when I first was living on my own and even though I was doing all the grown up things I still didn’t feel like one. I think that I’ve just experienced so many positive changes in myself since my move to FL 6 months ago that it was easier for me to put things into perspective. Had I stayed in Pittsburgh, I would probably still feel like a kid! Thanks for reading Emily.

      Reply
  16. Skylette from Sequins&Stilettos

    I have so much to say about this but not enough time. 😉 I agree with you – I don’t think many people have that “ah-hah” moment where it just clicks and suddenly we’re given a gold star for being “big kids” – it’s completely an personal evolution. One minute we’re eating top ramen and counting down the minutes for the next social event and the next we’re paying a mortgage and trying to decide between gluten free meals. 😉 It is so wonderful to think back about personal growth. Love your thoughts, my dear.

    Sequins&Stilettos

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thank you Skylette! I always expected that moment like you said, because I thought that growing up would be automatic once I hit a certain age. The truth is, everyone experiences differently and at different times in their lives. There can be 30 year olds who still feel like kids and 21 year olds who feel just like adults! It’s definitely been fun for me to look back and see how much I’ve really grown up in such a short amount of time…always fun to reflect!

      Reply
  17. kitchenclosetheart

    It’s so funny that you wrote this, because I was just thinking how I STILL haven’t felt like I’ve reached adulthood. My family is SO close to me that I can scurry off home whenever I feel like it. I love New York so much, but I feel like a big move like you did is such a mark of adulthood. You should be proud of yourself for doing it. Keep kicking that booty, girl!

    xx
    M

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      That’s what it was like when I lived in Pittsburgh – my family was really close by so I could go home whenever I wanted to and did so often. Moving so far away has really helped me grow up and I’ve learned a lot about myself. And thank you for the nice comment – it was such a big step for me and I’m really glad I made the move. 🙂

      Reply
  18. Jayme @Random Blogette

    I just turned 33 years old and sometimes I still don’t feel like an adult. Sometimes I look around at my house, my kids and my husband and think… When did this all happen? It sounds like you are on the right path. I am so glad that I found your blog today. I can’t wait to read more.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Hi Jayme, thank you so much for your comment!! It definitely creeps up on you, and before you know it you look back and realize just how much your life has really changed. It’s been so neat for me to reflect on all of the positive changes taking place in my life. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I can’t wait to hop over to your blog!

      Reply
  19. Gma Max

    What a wonderful view of what you are becoming and what I always knew you would be! Don’t ever feel so adult that you don’t keep a bit of your childish delight in fun and adventure. I’m 71 and still enjoying life and not always feeling “adult”. Life is always in a state of becoming and there is great joy in each new stage, new adventures, new feelings, the changes in your children, grandchildren….you get the point. Life is what you make of it and you are well on your way to making your own mark! I can hardly wait until Christmas too, miss you so much! Gma

    Reply
  20. Pingback: The Best of 2012 |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *