Recently I had one of those birthdays that makes you question, “Am I finally a grown up now?” The clichéd answer: Yes and no. Upon reflection, I don’t believe anyone ever wakes up and says, “Ah yes, I finally feel like what I expected a grown up feels like.” What I do believe is that we get better at being people, and understanding how our own and others’ weird, confusing but wonderful minds work.
Here are eight things about being a grown up that I’ve discovered in the last few years:
1) You’ve never been more in tune with your body, yet are somehow detached from it. You notice the effects that big nights and bad food have on you. You workout, scrutinise labels and invest in quality. Yet, when you’ve been a bit lax, any extra bulge is an alien, an impostor. It’s not even part of you. “WTF is that and HOW did it get there?!” You ask yourself in the mirror, pointing and pinching at unwanted bits. When you’re young, you shy away from them. When you grow up, you confront the issue and squat, plank and green smoothie it away.
2) You don’t care what others think of you. Yes, we’re human and intrinsically we need to feel valued and loved, but speaking your mind and being bold is only a sign of strength. You know all those super embarrassing things your parents used to say and do? Yep, you now do them, and then some. You hold your own and know that your words and actions can and will make a difference. When you’re young, you chant in a choir. When you grow up, you’re the lead singer.
3) You get sillier. I realised this one a while ago, but worth mentioning again. GROWN UPS ARE SUPER SILLY. When you’re young, you’re blinded by all the grown up stuff like cufflinks and big words. When you grow up, you see through all that. Grown ups are often much sillier than kids, but as long as we’re honest and kind, it’s all good!
4) You make all your own goals. Because of historical and societal ‘norms’, most of us had an idea of what we imagined our lives to be like at certain milestone ages. Not being at those ideals yet being happy without them means we realise how fast time does go by and how our priorities change over the years. Our precious moments are not to be wasted and our goals are to be OUR OWN, not somebody else’s. When you’re young, you want to be normal. When you grow up, you realise that nobody is.
5) You don’t feel ready to be a parent, but you’re ready. Many of your friends are successfully proving that procreation is both a financially and emotionally viable experience. The prospect, although often terrifying, is now one that you know you’ll be able to handle in the future. However, the logistics of childbirth will never cease to concern you.
6) Any patience you had left with people continues diminishing at a rapid rate. Maybe this one is me being naive, but I never understood in my early 20s when friends told me that they had to end a friendship. Now I know better. People change, and you just don’t have time for people who don’t make positive contributions to the friendship bank account.
7) Everything is about sex. Not in an overt way, but subtly, in the background, like the hum of an airplane. You might not be in a situation that calls for sexual connotations, but yep, there in the background are all the puns, innuendos, cupcake boobs and penis-shaped zucchinis. And it’s all very hilarious. When you’re young, you quietly giggle. When you grow up, you gain a teenage brother who sits on your shoulder and turns mild situations into impossibly lewd ones.
8) You know that nobody has all the answers, but momentum only comes from just doing things. Sometimes you’ll be right, sometimes you’ll be wrong, but both are better than not being anything. When you’re young, you spend too much time worrying about correct processes and the ‘right way’ to do things. When you grow up, you know that paths to destinations are always different and there is no ‘right way’. You just have to keep on moving.
What’s defined ‘growing up’ for you?