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I Knew I Was an Adult When: I still don't know if I'm an adult

An Engineer by trade, Michelle brings a logic based analytical approach to her writing. Topics of interest based around the psychology of TV and literature.

When am I going to stop feeling like everyone else is more grown-up than I am?

When did I know I was an adult? It’s a surprisingly common question that’s always thrown me for a loop.

Growing up, I remember looking at my mom, grandparents, teachers and coaches in awe. They were adults, what wasn’t there to look up to. They had all the answers to my questions, knew how to handle any situation, had jobs, got to stay up late, didn’t have anyone telling them what to do. All these things were adult things, and I couldn’t wait to become an adult myself.

As I’ve grown up, my definition of an adult has changed. I once had a list in my head of what officially classified you as an adult. Puberty and all the natural wonders that come along with it seemed like the entrance to adulthood, but when it happened to me, I still felt like a kid. Turning 18 makes you an adult per the law, so clearly that had to be the turning point. Well, that day passed, and I still felt like a kid.

Graduating high school, going to college, turning 21, graduating college, getting my own phone plan, starting a career, buying a new car, getting health insurance, all these milestones in my life came and went, and I still didn’t feel it. What was wrong with me?

In some corner of my mind, I still carried all that awe I had as a child. I was looking for the day I’d have all the answers. I guess I wanted someone to present me with some big, magical book of wisdom to induct me into the official society of adulthood. Needless to say, I felt a bit lost and confused when I knew I should feel like an adult but didn’t. I had reached all these milestones and accomplished all these adult things, yet here I was still feeling like a kid.

It’s a hard pill to swallow accepting that there isn’t anyone standing at a mile marker in the journey of life to give you a gift and congratulate you on making it. No one tells you you’re an adult because no matter our age we’re still our same selves. We pick up responsibilities, start families, buy cars, have careers, but there’s not a magical switch inside us that changes us from kid to adult. We slowly grow and develop, thinking we’re figuring it out... only to look back and laugh at how clueless we were.

This is a cycle that will repeat itself for the rest of our lives. We don’t have all the answers, and most of the time we’re feeling our way around in the dark, trying desperately to to avoid hit our heads against a wall. There’s no manual for how you’re supposed to maneuver through life, so we do the best we can.

As long as we’re out here living our lives, who cares if we’re so-called adults? "Adult" is just another label that puts us in a box of us versus them. We close ourselves off to experiences because we deem them childish or immature. Ultimately, does any of that matter, as long as we’re out here trying to and be our best selves?

When did I know I was an adult? I don’t.

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