Wellness & Mental Health

There’s No Such Thing as a Grown-up

Grown-up texting
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Ten-year-old me thought I would be an awesome adult by 25. But no one told me there’s no such thing as a grown-up.

What Defines a Grown-up

Merriam-Webster defines a grownup as not childish or immature. And that doesn’t define any of the adults I know.

At 10, I proclaimed, to my parents, that by 25 I’d have a master’s degree, a 4-bedroom house with a fence, 2 kids and a hot husband. I’m guessing my parents had a good laugh about that later in the day.

Let’s fast forward to 2007, when I was 25. I had a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State and I was an Assistant Vice President at my job—not bad right? Well, this looks good on paper but I barely cleaned my apartment, only did laundry when I ran out of underwear and I was still dating toxic men. Oh if 10-year-old me only knew.

Legally I was an adult, but I sure as hell didn’t feel like one. I knew I wanted kids but not at 25. I wanted to have my shit together before bringing life into this world. Time marched on and at 28 I bought my first condo all by myself. Still didn’t “feel” like a grown-up even with a mortgage, 401K, and decent amount in my savings account. I mostly just struggled to cope with my anxiety and do well at my job.

What was I Missing?

It’s like everyone else got a memo on adulting and I was just walking through life confused. By 29, I made Vice President at my company. I still bought my work outfits at target, furniture at Ikea and was still dating all the wrong people.

Mixed Messages

My seasoned co-workers told me not to work too hard because no man would want to marry me after my 20s. I’d had my elders playfully toss around the word spinster. One woman, who was married 3 times, insisted that I be subservient to my man if I wanted to get respected and become someone’s spouse.

By the time my mother was 29 she had 2 kids, a husband, a 4-bedroom house and she made home cooked meals every night. This was the pre-food delivery era, but still.

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Maybe I just wanted to be this romanticized ideal adult that my tween self dreamt up in the 90s. But social norms shifted, people were getting married a little bit later, 2 adult working households were now the norm, and women had more options for their future.

Grown-ups are a Myth

Finally, I realized that I deserved a good career and a good spouse; not one or the other.

By 34, I married my equal, he’s my biggest cheerleader. If I make more money than him, he’s proud of me. If I’m exhausted after a long day at work, he cooks. We sold my condo and bought our dream home. I guess this was grown-ish.

If I learned anything on my journey to be grown, its to follow my own path. To define my life by my terms and I still ended up with everything I wanted. There’s no such thing as a grown-up. We are just older people, with a little bit of wisdom, a small amount of money trying to make decent decisions.

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All articles are strictly the opinions of the writer based on his or her experiences in life. If you have questions or are unsure of anything regarding your health we strongly advise you to contact a professional for all medical advice.

31 comments on “There’s No Such Thing as a Grown-up

  1. Alexandria Newton

    Girl, who wants to be a grown up anyways?! I’m 34 now. I’m married, I have a daughter, I own my own home, and cars…but I don’t feel like a grown up. Are you happy? Then age is only a number on paper. Good read by the way!

  2. coopermoon

    This was everything I’ve been thinking but never said out loud. Easy read too

  3. This is so true! I’m currently 25 and on paper look very grown up, but 90% of the time I have no clue what I am doing.

  4. So much truth, sister!

  5. “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C.S. Lewis. It wasn’t until I hit my late 30s that I really understood what he was trying to say with that. People who think adults need to be serious all the time and not be fun are, well, not fun. Life is short – may as well live it the way we want to and not some ridiculous set of rules you never had any input in to begin with.

    In other words, here here. 😉

  6. I completely agree. I am 21 with a 6 month old. I thought I’d have it all together by now, but do we ever? I don’t think so. Haha.

  7. I’m 36, married with 2 girls under 2 years old, a house that’s never clean, and a job that pays the bills. Some days I feel like I’m yet to be a grown up (because they have their lives together!) and some days I think being a grown up is WAY overrated!

    I really did enjoy reading this and I’m happy that you’ve found what makes you happy in life!

  8. Makayla Kane

    I’m 34, married with 4 kids. NEVER is my house clean and life is rough with one child on the spectrum. Some days I don’t want to be grown up either i just want to be a kid like them. Thank you for sharing this post to make me feel better!

  9. I can relate to this! I’m 31 and married with 2 kids, but I still feel like I’m not a grown up half the time. 🤷‍♀️

  10. That’s the lesson I’ve learned lately! Always follow your own path 🙂

  11. Great read!

    I’m almost 30, I’m married to my best buddy and biggest supporter, I’m the owner of two adopted pets, I have a career I love and a myriad of passion projects and achievements that make me feel fulfilled. And I’m just getting started.

    It took me a while to realize that this is what “growing up” means to me. It’s finding happiness and people to share the path that I’m building for myself, one step at a time, as I go. I believe you’re not done “growing” until you’re gone, and there is no invisible finish line when it comes to finding more happiness, more enjoyment and more knowledge in your life 😁

  12. Great job succeeding! You never have to grow up!!! I married my husband at 26 and we had children at 28. I am still a huge kid at heart. I try to climb through tunnels and more at the local parks even.

  13. Glad to know I’m not alone in thinking this. I’m 36 now, have a wife, career, family — but I still keep wondering when I’m going to ‘feel’ like a grown-up.

    As a kid I assumed there would be some magic trigger — a particular birthday probably, maybe my 21st — where all of a sudden my way of thinking and viewing the world would just *finger snap* change. And from that point onward I would ‘be’ a grown-up.

    In reality, it’s a bit more like the boiling frog situation I think. Things just start coming until all of a sudden…There you are. 😉

  14. I completely agree with you! Being grown up is a myth! We can grow in our own way and there is nor right or wrong way in that! Amazing write-up!

  15. I love this! Thank you for writing it. I’m thirty and thought I’d have my life figured out by now…. I totally don’t!

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