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.
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.
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.