Oddly, one of the sweetest questions that I get from teenage students is “How do you know when you’re an adult?” I’m definitely an adult now, and here are some things that make me sure that I’m an adult. I had this sitting around the draft file for about a year and thought I’d post “publish.”
1. A Teenager Will Think You’re Old – This isn’t going to happen until you’re late 20s, but at some point you’re going to meet a teenager and they will be glib and standoffish with you … because you’re old. Old to a teenager is mid-to-late 20s, but when they sort you from the ‘us’ pile of youth to the ‘them’ of oldness pile, you are an adult.
2. You Stop Caring – in a good way! I remember one time when I was in front of a classroom, sitting in a chair, and trying to get the power cord into my laptop to charge it. I dropped the cord, and when I went to reach for the laptop it started to slip out of my hands, and, in my haste to rescue it, I fell completely out of my chair and onto the ground. In front of a room full of teenagers. And I just laughed. You know that you’re an adult when you’re secure enough in yourself that you can ’embarrass’ yourself and be totally fine with it. This is probably why everyone’s parents seem ’embarrassing’ when what has really happened it that they have no f**** to give.
3. Curtains – I really felt like an adult when I hung up curtains. I was like, “An adult lives here!” then looking around and realizing my parents don’t live here and thought, “Wait, it’s me! I’m the adult who lives here!” and I still am. Also, I love my curtains.
4. Friend’s Advice Changes from Dating to Insurance – Your gabfests with your friends will change from “OMG this guy and stuff!” to “Do you like your insurance company? Because I’m shopping around for a better rate.” Also, if a friend gets a major home repair and you’re like, “I need the number of your electrician,” you know you’re an adult. Especially if that’s the last phone number you’ve gotten in years.
5. You Get Revertigo – This term is from How I Met Your Mother, but it is so apt. Revertigo is where you revert to how to used to be (ie: dumb) around a person from your past that you haven’t seen in a while. Young people don’t get revertigo because they haven’t been around long enough to revert to the past, because they don’t have a past … because they’re young. Welcome to adulthood!
6. Your Body Will Turn on You – Get ready for it, because your home, aka your body, will totally turn on you. I’m not just talking about somehow hurting your neck while sleeping – which will happen – or the horrid cracking sound your hip will make when you’ve sat on the ground too long – again, this will happen, but your metabolism will be the first to go. If you’re super young and whining, “I’m so fat” while clutching a pair of size 4 jeans, revenge is nigh. Also, cooked red meat will turn on you. Burger? Alka Seltzer. Steak? Oh, yeah, that’s an Alka Seltzer night. Stop considering Slim Jims, your body suddenly figures out that they’re poison. Your body just stops being able to handle red meat around 30-ish. My last meal before going veg was a filet mignon with an Alka Seltzer chaser. It might sneak up on you, but when you pass on certain foods because you know they’ll wake you up at night, you’re an adult.
7. Kids Will Appear – You may not have kids, which is a great and valid decision by the way, but kids will show up anyway. I suddenly became a step-mom a few years ago, and it was jarring because I realized that I was a step-mom. Wait, what? What surprised me, what shook me, was that there were kids, and if something went wrong (if, lol, I meant “when”) it was going to be my responsibility. That’s it. Not that I wanted to or not, but it was going to happen. Those who are childfree will notice that kids will pop up, your friends will have them, and then they do the darndest thing: age. If your friend’s kid is graduating High School (a dark day) you’re officially an adult.
8. You Look Forward to Paying Bills – I love paying my bills, filing my taxes, updating my insurance, and it’s not because it’s fun, but because it has to get done. Being capable of paying your own bills is one of the most underrated feelings in the world, by the way.
9. The Person Intervening is You – When you’re young you just have this feeling that other people, adults namely, will take care of it, whatever ‘it’ is. If you find a lost dog, help it (so inconvenient), and reunite it with its owner (or, if you’re me, unsuccessfully chase it through your neighborhood while yelling “Let me help you!”) you’re an adult. There’s something that flips inside that just says, “When someone/something needs help, and I can help, I will help,” and you just do.
10. Birthday Appliances – If it’s your birthday and you want a new fridge, you’re an adult, end of story. When I was 21 I got a vacuum for my birthday and I was so mad; this year if someone offered me a birthday washer/dryer I’d be over the moon.