Feeling Grown Up (Sometimes)
Despite the title of this blog, rarely do I find myself feeling acutely aware of myself changing, evolving, transforming into the latest version of myself.
Every so often a true stock-taking moment sneaks up on me. A moment when I realize that I have changed, that I have (gasp!) grown up, at least a little, and I marvel that here I am, that there’s no more vague imagining, no fuzzy outline, no more waiting. The moment is here.
It doesn’t look like I thought it would, peering saucer-eyed at the adult world from booster seats and the tops of slides and slouched on high school bleachers.
I thought I would be an actress, or a ballerina or an award-winning journalist. I thought I’d have pets and cable tv, stay up all night and never eat apples. I thought I would be married. I thought there would be more answers than questions.
None of this is true, or at least not yet, and still, I’m a bonafide, grown-up adult and even without many of the trappings I imagined, this, right now, is what it feels like to be one.
Of course, I’m also every age I’ve already been, which I guess is why it’s so easy for age to become a slippery concept sometimes. I’m closer to 30 than 20 now, yet I still have moments where I feel just like myself at 15, at 7, or on really rough days, at squalling, frustrating infancy.
But then one of those moments grabs me and shakes me and says, “No look! Look how much farther you’ve come, look at what you’ve done, what you’ve learned!” And they’re not the moments you might think. They’re not usually momentous occasions from the outside, not for anyone but me. Not graduations or birthdays or doing taxes or any obvious milestones.
Just tiny moments that I will never forget.
There are two that stand out in my mind. The first was, at 20 years old, finally getting fed-up and bored enough with feeling lonely and staring at the extremely small walls of my suffocatingly hot and tiny rented room after a day of interning at House and Home to tuck a flower in my hair, and venture out on my own into the city to treat myself to a scrumptious Sarah’s Falafel Combo. I had already tackled moving to the city and securing one of the most intimidating internships I had applied for, but it wasn’t until that moment that the feeling of accomplishment and independence kicked in. It was such a small thing, popping out for dinner, but I felt so brave and proud and independent. I felt grown up.
The second was one of many sunny Saturday morning drives I made in from my adorable apartment in the country to visit my parents during my rural reporter days. As I steered confidently from the highway onto the familiar picturesque streets of my hometown, Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women came on the radio. “The car I’m driving, I bought it!” I hollered along before laughing and shaking my head as the past few months washed over me: buying a car, moving alone to a strange tiny town I’d never visited to learn the ropes at a newspaper. I’d even stuck with it when, a mere two weeks in, my editor’s maternity leave began and I was left at the helm. I got up every morning, dry heaved with anxiety for a quarter of an hour, took a deep breath and then got in that same car and just did my damndest to put out the paper until her replacement finally arrived. “Throw your hands up at me” indeed.
I know it’s not for everyone and definitely not always financially feasible, but beyond leaving school and leaving home, I think living completely on my own as I did when both of these little moments popped up, had a lot to do with accelerating that feeling of independence.
Living alone can give you extra time to just hang out with yourself and find out what you’re all about and where your thoughts take you when your behaviour isn’t affected by anyone else (I, for example, am a huge slob, who, it turns out, when left to her own devices, likes to come home, take off her pants and bra, make kale chips, watch lame tv, brainstorm crazy projects, and write until it’s time to sleep).
Without roommates, boyfriends or parents to rely on if you forget the rent, or the cat food, you are forced to take on that responsibility no matter what. You’re sick? Best get up and make your own damn soup. These might not be the fun parts of living alone, but they are the parts that let you learn what you are capable of.
Beyond that, I think it’s just being an active participant in deciding the direction of my own life that makes me feel like an adult.
My decisions aren’t always right, but they’re mine and I stick to them until proven wrong. I give things time. I am patient with myself. And I think that’s pretty grown-up.
What do you guys think, are there certain things you have to go through to feel like an adult? What have your grown-up moments been?