But there's nothing wrong with being a grown-up. In fact, there are a lot of perks. And (except for those occasional moments during gym classes when I forget) for the most part, I finally feel like a legit grown-up. For awhile there, in my mid-to-late-twenties, I felt like an imposter most of the time. Like...my age and job both declared me an adult, but I didn't really feel like one...like I imagined that 'real' grown-ups felt like grown-ups. And I just...didn't.
But I've been doing some thinking and assessing, and I think I've identified some of the key components that contribute to me feeling like a grown-up (as opposed to a very elderly teenager). Because I think we can all agree that being a grown-up is awesome-- after all, we spent the first 18 or so years of our lives pretending we were grown-ups-- I figured I'd share some of the elements that I've deemed critical to Feeling Like a Successful Grown-up.
[Point number one should probably be that you stop using the word 'grown-up' and start saying 'adult.' Obviously I'm failing there...but I feel like there's a distinction. 'Adult' seems more objective, like it's a fact based on age and not at all up for discussion: if you're over 18, you're an adult. Period. But being a 'grown-up' seems more open for interpretation. So I'll stick with that.]
(these are in no particular order)
1. Wear lipstick.
Sorry, do I talk about makeup too much? Maybe. But here's the thing-- teenagers and college students don't tend to wear lipstick. I only started wearing it with much regularity myself in the past year, and I must say: when I'm wearing lipstick, I feel like a grown-up. I feel more pulled together, more confident...I feel like a better version of myself. It's a strange correlation, but it's distinctly different from just wearing lightly-colored glosses, which I've been doing since high school. I suggest you give it a whirl.
2. Make a budget and live on it.
I've been doing this since we got married and I must say-- it makes me feel successful. Even if you don't have much money- knowing where it's going and being the boss of it is empowering. I love being a successful budgeter-- it definitely separates the grown-ups from the college-kids-living-on-Daddy's-bottomless-money.
3. Learn how to order drinks (both coffee and alcoholic) with confidence.
When I was a little kid, I was amazed at how complicated it seemed to order a drink in a restaurant-- and at how easily my mom answered all their tricky follow-up questions. She didn't order drinks often, but when she did, it was a margarita. And when they asked if she wanted it frozen or on the rocks, she had a quick answer. What kind of tequila? Had an answer for that, too. Salt on the rim? Yes. She didn't waver, didn't have to think about it-- she knew. I respected that. Making an order at Starbucks can be equally confusing to the uninitiated. I feel successful when I can order a drink with confidence. Bonus points if I don't get carded.
4. Become an expert on a health condition.
It could be one you're personally afflicted with or one that a loved one suffers from. Maybe you're a caregiver for someone with it. Whatever it is-- get good at speaking the language of that condition. Meet other people who speak that language. Obviously my condition of choice (or not) is infertility. There's a certain sense of accomplishment that I get when I have a conversation with someone that the uninitiated would think was all in code. The procedures, the acronyms, the drug names-- I feel smart when I can carry on a conversation of intelligence with a friend or doctor and know what I'm talking about. I definitely couldn't have done this in college.
5. Plan and fund your own vacation.
I felt like a super legit adult the first time Matt and I did this.
|Our view from the cruise ship- September 2009|
6. Know what's going on.
During college I lived in a bubble. I knew what was going on with my friends in my world...but not much else. I didn't read the paper or watch the news much. Facebook wasn't around, so no one alerted me to whatever heinous political things were taking place. I was pretty insulated. Maybe that isn't the case for college kids now, what with their fancy phones and all...but I started feeling very adult when I started realizing that there was more to the world than me and the things that directly affected me. I still don't actually watch the news much, but I peruse a newspaper almost every day (online, of course) and feel like I generally have some sense of what's going on in the world. I'm much better at keeping up with current events in pop culture and entertainment, but it's a similar principle: being aware of what's going on allows you to connect with other people and not feel lost during 'water cooler talk.'
7. Be someone's go-to 'expert' about something.
I really enjoy this one. Pick something you like and are reasonably good at and build a reputation on it. Be the one people call when they have a question about ______. It's fun! It makes you feel like you have something to contribute to the world! My current 'expert' statuses are mostly grammar, infertility, and makeup. Nothing thrills me more than a random grammar inquiry via text or someone coming to me wanting advice on how to be a friend to their sister dealing with infertility. And I similarly love knowing exactly who I'm going to call when I need someone to explain something football-related in terms I can understand (Mollyanne) or I need a book recommendation to suit a very particular mood (Colleen).
8. Get interested in something you used to make fun of your parents for liking.
You know you've really arrived at grown-up-hood when you realized that you've turned into your (younger, much cooler) mom or dad. When I started getting excited about weeding the flower beds and actually chose to spend money on plants...I knew I was there. Who is this weird girl and why is she suddenly obsessed with her yard??? Oh, it's just Grown-Up Erika, reeking strongly of her mother. It's okay. My mom is awesome and so is her yard. Maybe your parents played bridge or bird-watched for fun. You probably spent years mocking them with your siblings. Don't worry. Your day will come, too. And when it does, embrace it. And order up a margarita-- with confidence.