And so today, as I’m taking the summer a little bit more lightly (and catching up on some knitting!), I thought I’d rerun this column I wrote back in September of 2009 that takes a stab at answering that question.
I was not a happy teenager. I didn’t particularly like the high school scene, the ridiculous courses, the boring teachers, and the regimented schedule.
I used to dream of finally being a grown up and being allowed to make my own decisions.
I idolized adulthood.
Then I hit eighteen and nothing magical happened. Surely I’d feel like a grown up in university, though, right? Or maybe when I landed my first full-time job?
Many of my friends seemed comfortable in their skin. They knew who they were, and they weren’t afraid of letting others know where they stood. But I was still waiting for some magical writing from heaven to appear and label me, once and for all, an adult, so that I could feel capable, mature, and competent, too.
Unfortunately the writing failed to materialize. And yet, sometime in the last few decades, I must have crossed an invisible line. It may not have been accompanied by thunderous applause, but I definitely passed from mini-me to fully-me. Even though I can’t define the precise mode of this miraculous transformation, I can tell you the results.
I knew I was a grown up when…
I knew I was a grown up when it came to men when I could stop asking, “Does he like me?”, and start asking, “Do I like him?” And when the answer was yes, I married him.
When it came to children, I knew I was a grown up when I stopped worrying what other people thought of my kids’ behaviour or development and just concentrated on being the best mom I could be.
I was a grown up, too, when I stopped pulling out the makeup and the mousse to impress other people, but just started doing it to make myself feel pretty. When I started prioritizing feeling good in my body, I felt like a grown up in it, too.
I was a grown up when I could calmly talk to a salesperson about what their establishment had done that was beyond the pale, instead of letting them walk all over me.
I was a grown up when I could invite people over for dinner and not worry about whether they’d like what I prepared. I’d just cook what I liked, and figured everybody else would make do.
I was a grown up when I called my mom for her advice, and not her approval.
I was a grown up when the fact that my father didn’t understand me became a cause for pity for him, rather than for angst, anger, or introspection on my behalf.
I was a grown up when I started letting myself dream dreams, instead of living out the dreams other people thought I should have.
I felt like a grown up when I acted like others were my equals, instead of feeling insecure around those who were of higher rank or status than I was.
I felt like a grown up when I could run into an acquaintance and have a conversation and not remember until the next day that I was supposed to be mad at them. I guess I don’t carry grudges the same way anymore.
And I knew I was a grown up when I stopped worrying about whether or not I was one.
I don’t have to wait for my life to start; I have to make my life what I want it to be. This is my life; it’s up to me to live it. After all, I am a grown up, even if it’s been a long time coming.