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You Know You're an Adult When...

Updated on December 11, 2017
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Jennifer is a writer, editor, feminist, and Potterhead. She also loves her cat and studying cat behavior.

Physical, Mental, and Emotional Adulthood

Physically, our bodies--or more specifically, our brains--are finally matured at 25. That, not at 18 or 21, is the average year that we reach our development peak for reasoning. That's a scary 5-7 years to be making decisions with an underdeveloped organ that controls everything!

Mentally, we all mature at different levels, and this is true for us emotionally as well. All 4 aspects are important to our coming of age, and the rites of passage such as turning a certain age or holding a particular celebration to commemorate the event, help us to emotionally and mentally reach that maturity our physicality reaches at 25.

Legal Adulthood

Okay, so according to the laws in the U.S., a person is an adult at 18, if they are of sound mind. According to this, a person is legally allowed to vote, pay taxes, own property, manage credit, and even become a legal guardian of someone not born to them.

But did you feel like an adult at 18? Were you still in high school? Just graduated? Perhaps still have another year to go? Maybe you did actually own a car at that young of an age, or hold a job as well as attending higher education. Those are strong responsibilities.

But did you feel like an adult? I know I didn't.


10 Ways To Know You're Finally An Adult

If you ask ME, there are just a few things that you begin to think when you reach majority. There are a few things you start to do, whether realized or not, and there are a few things that you are at long last able to accomplish.

Now, at 25, I can legally, emotionally, physically, mentally, and self-righteously tell you the REAL ways you know you're an adult.

1. Early Bedtime

And I mean early. Remember those days of shrugging at the midnight chime? At giggling when you see yet another sunrise because you're tired but know for sure that you can do this again?

No more! You hardly ever see midnight, and it's only with the resolve of a scorned Ravenclaw descendent that you can get yourself there.

What time is now a good time to sleep? You want to be in bed by 8:00, but you fidget, knowing that you'd have to have an excuse for that one, like young kids or an extra early start. Besides, 10 hours of sleep is only for college students. To waste time, you straighten the living room, set up the kitchen for morning breakfast, clean up in the bathroom, and then you clean yourself up in the bathroom. You even pick out your clothes for the following workday.

Who'd have known you'd be so organized! And then, Thank God, it turns 9:15, and that is a totally acceptable bedtime, and good thing you've already showered and washed your face and even brushed your teeth. Your head touches the pillow, and you're gone.

(Or you toss and turn for five and three quarters hours and then finally fall into a fitful sleep that ends 2 hours too soon, and you're cranky in the morning. Again.)

2. Financial Planning

What happened to all that free time? You have everything setup in automatic payments. There's no need for making out checks and buying that many stamps and filling out that many envelops anymore! Surely you have time to sit and watch your favorite show? You did all this setting up years ago. It's a common thing to set everything up to come out of your bank account directly!

But these days, you know exactly how much you have in your checking account At All Times. You know exactly what is coming out, and which day at midnight it processes into your checking. These days, you have lists, a calendar, even an excel spreadsheet to keep track of what you have, what you will have, and what you will have to take away.

And you are constantly checking to see what your account says. People passing may just think you're yet another new ager texting as you go about your business, another young soul possessed by technology. But you're not using this for social time. You're checking to see if that three dollars and 57 cents has changed yet! When will that damn check show up??? It's direct deposited!

And you check until you see it.

You are a financial planner.

Teen wearing "I Hacked Wikipedia" hoodie. Obviously a hoodlum! My god, look at that BANDANA!
Teen wearing "I Hacked Wikipedia" hoodie. Obviously a hoodlum! My god, look at that BANDANA! | Source

3. Youths Are Everywhere

There are kids everywhere. So many more than you remember. They're in your way while you're driving, and they're clumped together in the dodgiest places. Youths.

When you see kids walking alongside the road, it doesn't matter whether they're coming or going from school, grabbing milk for elderly grandma, or if they have a legitimate reason to be out Without Supervision.

It doesn't matter their age. When you see kids walking alongside the road, your first reaction is to narrow your eyes and glare at them, whispering behind your safe bubble of a car steering wheel, "Youths."

And then you find yourself doing this more often. Not only are youths walking your quiet streets, they're hanging outside the stores! What are they doing just sitting outside of the tiny grocery store? Where are their parents?!

And when you overhear the kids talking and realize they're just getting milk because their fragile grandmother cannot leave the house, you nod and make an approving frown. Yep, that's a good reason to be out.

You got away with your youthing today, Young Woman. Better still be good tomorrow!

4. Job Searching Is A Daily Routine

That's right! Whether you actually have the ambition to go for a better job than the one helping you Just Get By right now or not, you're looking at what's out there. Daily. Weekly. It doesn't matter. Getting another or new job is a routine idea for you. Who has a career, even as an adult, these days?

Very few people. That's who. Always keep looking, and always keep your eyes out. That's definitely something you've learned.

(This is actually just one of many ways you learn to look for opportunities as a whole. This is Super Adult. Congratulations! Now go check indeed.)

5. The Elderly Are Adorable

No more griping about everyone else's age! No more, "Ew, they're old."

Yeah, you may joke to your sibling about how close to 30 they are, but it's still in the back of your mind that you're close there yourself! And honestly, you don't feel like you're close, right? What's so bad in becoming 30?

And then you feel how sincerely you believe this, and you look at your parents and your grandparents, and you secretly (or even out loud) aww in their face. Their actions are just so cute!


5.a Accepting Parental Advice

Remember when your parents were the bane of your existence with their "advice" that you never asked for and no matter what they did to help, it put you in a worse situation than you were before?

That's behind you now.

Now, you're grateful your parents are taking the time to share their 2 cents' worth. Even though you realistically can now say whether it helps or not and still make your own decisions, it's nice to see your parents make the effort and care so much.

(I would just like to admit here that I am not at that point yet with my parents. Bah. 9.5 out of 10? Kinda sorta maybe still an adult? I guess!)

6. Store Choices

Your store choices differ! While you looked for candy and chocolate milk every time you entered the convenience store as a young individual, you know you're an adult when this only happens at the end of the month, if you have $3 to spare, in change, after all your bills have been paid, and only then once you've decided to use it on chocolate milk rather than to save for an upcoming expense you know will be more than usual.

And to those of us who have the unlucky fortune for working uteruses, it may be twice a month! Along with whatever else we're craving, like Jack.

Please Vote! =) I'd love to hear from you all.

What makes YOU feel like an adult?

See results

[I have just been informed that children these days go for energy drinks. Now I feel ancient. Aren't energy drinks limited to 18+ adults????? Aren't they bad for kids???

Where are their parents??

*snickers and then sobs myself to sleep*]

7. Equality In Relationships

I hesitate with this one. There are unfortunately so many entities that want to deter this. The media, our mothers and fathers, our brothers, our cousins, and our best friends all tell us that someone has to wear the pants in a relationship.

Let me tell you right now, that's hogwash! Complete and utter radish soup!

When you reach an emotional majority and realize your own worth, when you have the self-esteem of knowing your limits and wanting to reach for more, you bleed this need into everything. You expect this of everybody.

And when you look at your relationships, you want to be half of a whole. Treated as half of a whole relationship, as a whole individual, and with the self-worth you have found you deserve.

And you do deserve this.

If you have even one friend or family member who supports your desire for equality, make them also give it to you if they do not already.

If the others don't understand, try to explain, but only once or twice. Honestly, you don't owe them an explanation or have to defend your equality.

If they refuse to understand, then please come to terms with the fact that they have not reached their own emotional majority and move on. You do not deserve to hold yourself back or be held back by those who cannot or will not respect your equality.

"Portrait of Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (1773-1844)"
"Portrait of Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (1773-1844)" | Source

8. Dependents

Yes, this includes pets! Even if you grew up with an animal (or several) always in the house, the act and emotional responsibility of having to solely provide and care for an animal is A Lot. And congrats if you are more comfortable with the idea because of having had animals while growing up!

And the big one? Children.

Now, knowing you're an adult doesn't mean having a dependent. It means knowing whether you want one or not.

Trust me, knowing this is actually a big deal! It means that you know yourself. It's neither evil nor selfish to want or to not want children or pets. It is, however, responsible to let yourself know first before it happens to you or before you plan it.

The other part of this is whether you'd be able to provide for a dependent, and then deciding to have one or holding off.

And it's responsible to learn how to care for a dependent if it has happened to you or you did plan for one before you were fully ready.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Even if you weren't ready and this is the situation you're in, when you're doing your best and teaching yourself how to always do better, that is being an adult. And congratulations to you because that is hard.

Watch John Green giving funny advice about the scariness of adulthood and the "Real World."

9. Everything Is Wrong With You

Even just two years ago, I never would have paid attention to having dry skin or a scratchy throat. I'd have said meh, put on lotion, grabbed some stuff out of the bathroom and been done with it.

I most definitely didn't take advantage of the included health care offered at college. (You pay for this in the extra "fees" included with your tuition if you live on campus. How lucky for you!)

Now, whenever I have the slightest anything going on, I search everywhere for an explanation, possible causes, how bad it might be, the cheapest kind of medicine that would work the best. I research like a pro.

And I usually come up with scarier possibilities than it actually is! It makes me feel like I'm completely falling apart some days. And then other days I can pretend nothing will be wrong again with me ever.

But mostly I just worry that my body isn't its perky 18-year-old self anymore.

Honestly, taxes always confuse me!
Honestly, taxes always confuse me! | Source

10. The Loathsome Taxes

Yes, you legally have to do your taxes at 18 years old. But let's be honest. Most of us all whined to our mothers and fathers, who took care of it for us, whether they go to someone to have it done or they do it themselves. And hey, some of us do have a smart enough parent to figure out the infuriating questions on their own.

But when you no longer go to them (whether it's your own choice or they've cut you off from their mercy), I'm sorry to say it, but you're an adult.

I suggest paying someone else to do it, like I do. That is if you can afford it! (I wasn't able to this year, and I about cried trying to figure it out.) I'm not that adult.


I had meant this to be funny and uplifting! There are moments of comic relief, and I am grateful for this. What I've come to realize for myself while writing this is that it is important to feel like an adult.

And with all the spoofy and too-serious articles out there? I like to think that I come to a good middle ground. =)

Let me know what you think below!

© 2014 Jennifer Kessner


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