To Adult or Not to Adult?



What are the milestones and achievements that solidify you as an adult? For me that wasn’t the age of 18. Or 21 OR 25 for that matter. It wasn’t when I brought my first car or joined the military. Completing a degree didn’t do it for me either.

I had specific mental thresholds that outlined adulthood  that I needed to pass in order to consider myself a part of the gang.

Everyone defines what it is and means to be an adult differently. It’s interesting to look at how I only really considered myself an adult a few years ago and still sometimes don’t consider myself one at all.



Society defines adulthood in many different ways by placing an age limit on the things citizens are able to do. You can’t watch adult movies until 17 or buy cigarettes until 18. At 18 you can enlist in the military and vote yet you are not able to drink until age 21. Some “grown n’ sexy” nightclubs require a minimum age of 25. Insurance doesn’t decrease until age 25 either.


So when the hell does one become an adult? Seems as though we’re all a little confused ourselves. Adding society’s many definitions with our own only makes the question When do you become an adult?  all the more interesting.


We equate age with maturity level but often many do not fit into such strict categories. I know younger individuals who are just as or more mature than I am. I know older individuals who I look at and wonder will they ever “grow up?” I look at myself and ask that question all the time.

Some people define adulthood as leaving the comfortable nest of their parents to become financially independent. Others define it as the American dream complete with the white picket fence, house, two car garage, two 1/2 kids, boring job, and a dog that resembles Lassie.


I define adulthood as a series of contrasting experiences that teaches you about yourself and the world around you. The more I learn about my purpose, finances, society, and pretty much everything; the more Adult-y I become.

I also equate adulthood with wisdom even though I know a lot of adults who missed that train. Ha.

These different definitions are neither wrong nor right but merely a perception of what it takes for me to consider myself an adult.

The idea of someone being an adult is a very fluid concept because it changes based on the mindset of the determining person. Even more in depth is the idea of being a “good adult” which I am guilty of using as a mental weapon against myself when I choose to spend money for fun rather than save.


In my mind I needed to secure a place to stay void of a roommate, buy a functional car, and work in a professional career to consider myself an adult. Now that I’ve made it past those thresholds I still can’t imagine not watching cartoons and eating junk food with my future kids. Does that make me less of an adult than my mother?

I asked several friends and associates “When did you become an adult,” and listened in anticipation as their answers took flight. Here’s what they had to say…


“When I realized that things I do or do not do ONLY effect me. When I went away to college, not going to class, not eating vegetables, or drinking water…not cleaning up stuff. Not wearing my head scarf or waiting last minute to pay my phone bill. Thinking I knew what was best and then realizing…Like, I was only made to do that stuff for my benefit and that it hurts no one but me if I don’t. That’s when I’m like ugh I’m an adult (emoji) no one cares if my edges are gone, phone cut off, and I’m dehydrated.” -AGE 24


“Probably when I moved off campus and instead of blowing my refund check I budgeted it so I could afford rent and other bills until I got a real job…Man earlier I was thinking I would love some new tires for Christmas. I was like…damn. I got excited thinking about new tires, I’m an adult” (Emoji)” -AGE 26


“I feel like an incomplete adult because I don’t have my masters yet and I’m not in my desired career yet.” -AGE 26


“When I moved out and started paying my own bills, had my own place and I had just come back from overseas. You couldn’t tell me nothing. I was working and in school, had my new truck. I was an adult.” -AGE 33


Adulting aka paying bills, and securing a job seem to be the biggest factors in how many of us identify adulthood. Childhood lifestyle advances and taking care of oneself medically also seem to enter into the definition of what it means to be an adult.

Personally, I am both childlike and adult like. I take care of myself financially and otherwise, but I still get excited at Christmas or when the fair comes to town.


The idea of someone being an adult is a very fluid concept because it changes based on the mindset of the determining person.


Holding onto such vague concepts like adulthood only pressures individuals into living up to a standard that isn’t clearly outlined. While it has its purpose as a guiding light from adolescence, don’t let it be too much of a defining one in your life. Layman’s terms? It’s great that you’re a working professional but don’t feel bad when you still enjoy going to Chuck E Cheese. I wouldn’t suggest going without kids though because that’s high key creep alert.


grow up
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