A Toronto Transformation

Feeling Grown Up (Sometimes)


Me, age four, eschewing the kids’ table and looking most fly, if I do say so myself.

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?

18 Responses to Feeling Grown Up (Sometimes)

  • Cassie says:

    This gives me the shivers. (The good kind.) I had to smile at the first story about going out for falafel because you could. I remember similar feelings during college, especially when I moved into my apartment and had rent and responsibilities. (Which are overrated, but still.) I’ve grown a little soft living at home for 2.5 years, but I so look forward to having similar experiences again when I take the plunge and cross the country. There will be some anxiety-induced dry heaving for sure, but it’ll be character building.

    • Ooh! I love causing good shivers! What a compliment! Man I wish we could do the character-building without the dry heaving but sometimes it just can’t be avoided! Here’s hoping you’re too busy having a blast to experience too much of that during your next big adventure!

  • Emma says:

    I love those moments, few and far between as they may be. Mine usually come at obvious moments, like paying my bills, buying ketchup, sometimes even just getting up in the morning and going to work!

  • Alli says:

    I love this post! I’m 35 and it took me a long time to realize that even though my life doesn’t look like what I thought it would at this age, I’m still a grownup and should be proud of my accomplishments. Also, I truly believe that I’ll still get those things I wanted like marriage and family, but now I’ll know better what to do with them and how to keep and appreciate them since I won’t be using them to make me feel grownup; I’ll already BE a grownup when I get them. I’m so glad that you can see those grownup qualities in yourself and be proud!

    OK now to lighten the mood and give you a laugh. I’m dating someone new. The day after the first time we slept together, I had a pain in my hip the whole day. I text my best friend and said, “My hip has been bothering me all day. Am I officially so old that I can injure a hip from sex!?” Thankfully this situation has not reoccurred ;).

  • heycrin says:

    Such a good post, again! Really got to me this one. Anything about feeling grown up/kid/grown up/kid always hits me right there. I like the nice, life-affirming grown up moments, so much better than the ‘where did my childhood go’ ones – the ones where you think, yeah, i can do this! I’m grown! Fully relate to the ‘moving alone/living alone’ stuff, you have to grow up in that situation.

    Going to Italy alone was a big one for me. I bought a maxi dress purely to walk around Italy by myself haha, It was more for practicality – cool in the heat but still covered up, but it did feel different somehow, walking around the streets wearing that. My sister saw a pic of me when I came back and said ‘Corinne, you are now a real woman’ haha. So funny what triggers that ‘grown up’ sense x

  • I love this post (and your advice/comment over on Life on a Branch, which led me over here). I think the time I felt most acutely grown up was the first time my husband and I took our brand-new daughter out of the house after bringing her home from the hospital. We went on an oh-so-exciting trip to the pediatrician for her first check-up and literally carried nothing more than a small bag with one diaper in it. We were all “She’s breastfed, what else could she possibly need?” Of course as soon as we get there, we pull her out of the car sea and her entire back and legs are covered in green poo. I looked at the nurse and she just looked at me like, “That’s all you.” And then I thought “OH MAN, it IS all me! Nobody is going to clean this kid up. Nobody is going to offer a fresh pair of clothes. This is all me.” Which, duh, should’ve been obvious, but that’s a moment when I distinctly felt like an adult. (And a bit like an idiot, too! 🙂 )

    PS – even with no back-up clothes, the kiddo survived, and so did we. It felt triumphant in the end!

    • hahaha. What a great grown-up moment that just snuck up on you! And, oh yes, feeling like an adult and feeling like an idiot are definitely not mutually exclusive! Glad you popped over to comment!

  • Jay says:

    I just turned 21 and I lived with roommates (ugh!) for about a year and decided ‘never again, I am living on my own’. Since then it has been interesting. I still don’t feel like a real grown-up yet but sometimes I feel really grown-up compared to people around me. For example, my ex-boyfriend who was 6 years older than me didn’t know how to shop for produce, so he always had to have my help. Or my neighbor who’s only a few months older than me asking how to slice a lime (that happened a month ago and I was stunned). I like the freedom I have living alone though. Nobody is here to tell me I can’t make a Space Invader on my wall out of Post-It notes, which I definitely did tonight.

    • It’s amazing how you can make it all the way to technical adulthood without some of those basic skills like produce-buying, eh? I love that you made a post-it space invader. I hope you’ll be posting a photo!

  • Erika says:

    Ah, growing up and being an adult… I think you capture it so well… and I love the imagery of you driving down the street to Destiny’s Child. It just made me realize how awesome and powerful an anthem like that is! 🙂

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