Friday, June 22, 2007

"being a grown-up"

one of the blogs I read, the lovely Sass Attack, has a category called "being a grown-up," and it's got me to thinkin'. I am now 26 years old -- an age which when you're, say, 14 or 15, seems totally grown-up and chic and cool. you have a job, you have a paycheck, you don't need to get a ride to the mall from your mom, you can go on dates with boys who aren't in high school (think of Jennifer Garner's character in "13 going on 30"). on the other end, however, I'd imagine that when you're say, 43 or 44, you're going to look at 26-year-olds like they're children who happen to inhabit fully-grown bodies. I mean, don't you feel like you read lots of interviews with men and women who reminisce about their twenties as a wild, tumultuous time when they thought they were adults but were really full-sized children making poor decisions?

if you let society's institutions and laws decide the matter, I am definitely an adult. I pay taxes, I am entrusted with responsibilities at my job, I can vote, buy alcohol, gamble, watch R-rated movies, buy cigarettes, drive a car, rent a car, get married, or even adopt a child. or hell, I can blow that all off and buy alcohol, gamble, smoke cigarettes, hop in a car, and avoid paying taxes -- but then I'll be considered an adult if I ever get caught.

it's weird, though, because on one hand I really do consider myself an adult. I pay all of my bills on time, I do my taxes myself, I check on my credit score, I get my oil changed every 3,000 miles (well, close enough), I have renter's insurance, I work hard at my job -- well, when I'm not blogging, of course -- I try and treat other people with respect and kindness, I have an apartment that has more than just milk crates and rock-band posters and ramen noodles. but on the other hand, I feel like a total kid. I spend a lot of daydreaming about what I want to be when I grow up, I marvel at my friends who've made the decision to get married or are (gasp!) even considering children, I eat cereal for dinner if I feel like it, I go out drinking and come back to blog about Dick Cheney and halibut (naturally), and I feel stunned when I realize that my mom was already married at my age.

I wonder when it all "comes together" and you feel like a legitimate grown-up. is it the realization of how many responsibilities you have? is it when you make the incredible decision that you're ready to become responsible for the life and growth of another human being? is it having a strong sense of self? is it maturity, or the way in which you treat other people, or not thinking about your self all the time (said the girl who has a blog, which is pretty much the 2007 definition of incredible narcissism)? is it when you realize that you and only you are responsible for your actions/happiness/life, so you can either shape up and take some ownership or just float along for the rest of your life, blaming other people when things go wrong?

what do you think? what makes a grown-up? and is it weird that I only sometimes feel like one, despite the fact that all the numbers point to yes?

also, is this the face of a trustworthy, responsible, legitimate grown-up (featuring a cameo by the lovely courtney botts-now-schaefer on the eve of her bachelorette party)?



At 6:38 PM, Blogger L Sass said...

I have a category called "being a grownup" specifically because I don't feel at all like a grownup! It's hard.

Particularly because my high school friends are all married or engaged and all own their own homes. We are 26, so I am definitely not the unusual one, but sometimes it's like, "Did I miss a 'SETTLE DOWN NOW' memo or something?"

I just look at the 50-somethings I admire and see that, of those I admire, some (like my parents) settled down early and many others took a while to get there. At this point, though, you'd never know the difference.

So, no rush.


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