When do you know that you’ve become an official, real-life adult?
What I mean is, when does #adulting stop being a cute verb for when you buy groceries and pay rent, and instead start being a legitimate way of life?
For me it happened shortly after my 24th birthday, when I realized that in another year I would be closer to thirty than twenty. When I realized it’s been more years than I’d like to think since I graduated not only high school, but college as well (I’ve still not come to terms with this one, sadly). When I realized that even though I still think I feel 18, when I’m around actual 18-year-olds I may as well be a senior citizen.
A big part of growing up in your twenties has to do with how you carry yourself. You don’t live like a student anymore — even though you still feel poor most of the time. You know your preferences and dislikes. You have an opinion, and aren’t just a listener anymore. You add value from experiences. You’re not as shy. And you know yourself and your capabilities way more than ever before. Growing into yourself is about realising that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life pleasing others; that you’d instead rather live life according to your own terms.
That may sound super empowering, but let me be very clear: it all stems from a place of fear. Whereas the thing that many young people fear the most is not fitting in and being judged by society (thereby making them conform and act a certain way), real adults start to develop a fear that runs much deeper: the fear of old age, of dying, and having never lived the way you really wanted to. This is what I think separates an adult mentality from that of a young person — adults just have more to lose! There’s no great shift in the microcosm or big epiphany like you’d expect there to be when you grow up. Instead, you start fearing other people’s judgements a little less, and the reality of life and death a little more.
But let me also be very clear about another thing: that sounds really morbid but it is such a blessing. I knew growing up would be terrifying, and it is. Yet it also feels right. It feels as natural as the changing seasons. I will forever cherish my childhood, but up until now I always felt really sad that I could never go back to those times. But now that I’m an official, full-blown adult, I finally feel like I don’t need to keep myself stuck in the past anymore. I feel like I can happily close that chapter of my life because I understand that it served me well, in the same way that every chapter of our lives serves us, whether good or bad.
These days, I’m more excited about what’s to come. Up until now I would have given anything to go back to being 16 or 18 again. But now I genuinely don’t want that anymore. Not everything is perfect, but I’m happy with where I am and more importantly, with who I’ve become.
I feel like I need to mark this monumental transition in my life with — none other than — a movie style makeover! (By the way, I highly recommend you do this too when you start feeling like a real adult). To celebrate this moment, I’m having fun finding my own style, something that’s more me. I want to outwardly reflect how I feel on the inside, because I’d like to look back on my twenties and remember myself as being cool, in that effortless carefree way only a twenty-year-old can be because she doesn’t have kids or a mortgage yet. You know what I mean?
It’s like a quarter life crisis but a really positive one. A quarter life revelation.
There’s still so much I don’t know. Like I wonder if you go through another one of these “growing ups” at every stage of your life? Probably. Life is just a series of different stages of you. I hope you’ll find what you need, and be who you’re meant to be.