If there's one thing for certain, it's that adulthood certainly isn't easy. For most of us, adulthood comes with a lot of freedom — but it also comes with rent, bills, and maintaining a full-time job or school (or sometimes even maintaining both a full-time job and school). This leads me to wonder, though: How do you know when you're an adult? People come from various backgrounds, and by my own definition, people can easily become "adults" when they're still teenagers or living at home. In truth, I think the concept of adulthood is a malleable one, and means something different to everybody.
In the United States, our concept of adulthood has traditionally been closely to our ideal of the American Dream: Someone becomes a "real" adult when they graduate from college, get married, and buy a house. In reality, though, fewer and fewer people fit that definition, particularly for the Millennial generation: Millennials are waiting longer to purchase their first homes, graduating from college with more debt, and waiting longer to get married. Personally, I think people can certainly lead adult lives even if they don't own their own homes or have a spouse. In fact, my concept of adulthood is pretty broad, and while I definitely think all of my friends and peers are "real" adults, we all lead pretty different lives in terms of home, finances, goals, and responsibilities.
This leads me to wonder: What do other people think? What might other peoples' definitions of adulthood be? Luckily, Redditer rjkrm recently asked the AskReddit community the same question, simply posing, "What was your defining 'I'm not a kid anymore" moment?'" I pulled some of the most interesting selections from the comments below; head on over to AskReddit for more.
1. Adulthood Is About the Details
I think this is definitely one of the things no one tells you about being an adult — you have to buy stuff! And not just fun stuff, but also stuff you need that you might previously have taken for granted, like nail clippers.
2. When Your House No Longer Feels Like Home
OK, so it's technically when your parents' house no longer feels like home, but still. The place all of your childhood memories took place in? At some point, it's going to feel less like home and more like a place you visit, and that's likely a sign you're becoming an independent adult with a life separate from your parents'.
3. When You're The Only One Responsible For Your Health
That's right: All of those doctor and dentist appointments your parents made for you when you were a kid? Those didn't happen by magic. You have to actually call and schedule these things, and goodness help you if you've misplaced your health insurance card.
4. Adulthood Is About Time Management
Regardless to what your priorities are, it's up to you to balance them and make sure you have enough time to fulfill your obligations, and get the rest you need, and have some fun, too.
5. When You Realize You've Become A Parent
All of that love, affection, and nourishing care you remember your parents doing for you? For many people, when they realize they're in a place to give those same things to their own child is the moment they draw the line between childhood and adulthood.
6. When You Take Control Of Your Problems
I think this one is legitimately admirable, no matter what age you are. Realizing you have a problem and making a change to be more healthy and positive in your life is always an important step and a sign of maturity.
7. Three Words: Student. Loan. Payments.
I think these words send a chill up most every millennial's spine. Nothing feels quite like a big reminder that you're an adult now like getting an email notification from Sallie Mae that your first payment is due.
8. When You Have To Face The Consequences of Your Actions
This one definitely requires some honesty for people to talk about, but I think it's an important point: When you're an adult, you are held differently in the eyes of the law. This isn't to say that the mistakes or foolish decisions you make as a teenager don't matter (because they definitely do) but when you're an adult, people aren't going to give you the benefit of the doubt of being "young and dumb," even if you don't feel like an adult yet.
9. When You Know Where Your Dollar Bills Have Gotta Go
OK, this one may not be terribly exciting, but hey, it's important! You know you're an adult when you get paid and don't burn through your paycheck in one week. In fact, building your credit can be beneficial to you down the road, so it's not a bad thing to keep in mind when you're just breaking into adulthood and managing your finances and bills for the the first time.
10. When You're The One Buying, Not Selling
Ah, yes. With Girl Scout Cookie season under way, I have a feeling a lot of people can relate to this one: No longer are we sending our parents off to work to sell boxes of cookies and candles for fundraisers. Now we're the ones Girl Scouts run up to outside of grocery stores asking us to buy their cookies. Crazy how fast that happens, right?
All in all, I think adulthood is a different experience for everyone, and it's no surprise that people will feel they crossed into adulthood at different stages. Adulthood comes with a crazy amount of responsibility, but I think it's important to remember we're still living our lives until the very end, so it's important to prioritize yourself: Continue to discover new interests and hobbies, keep learning, and make sure you find enough time to sleep!
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