Prompt Seven | When You Finally Started “Adulting”
Oh to be a kid again! Except now we’re adults with careers, responsibilities, and other grown-up business. When did you finally start “adulting”? What moment marked your transition to adulthood? What makes you feel like an adult?
I remember when I turned 18 years old. I thought “Yes! I have the key to the door”. And then when I turned 21 years old, I thought “Oh Yes. I’m a true adult now”. At 18yrs and 21yrs, I may have been viewed as an adult legally but in reality I was still quite innocent and naïve. Decades later, am I any more adult than I was then? Not absolutely sure!
Of course since receiving that golden key to the door of adulthood, I’ve clocked up significantly more years of life experience—but does that make me an adult in the true sense of the word?
Maya Angelou made the following interesting observation:
I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias. ― Maya Angelou
I think she makes a valid point.
Psychologist and author, Robert Firestone Ph.D also seems to support Angelou’s statement. He says:
Most people are unaware that they are conducting their lives more from a child’s frame of reference than in an adult mode. Although men and women mature physically and become more capable in their practical lives, rarely do they achieve emotional maturity.
Oh dear! Perhaps “adulting” and adulthood are two different things. I will however, treat the two terms as interchangeable throughout this post.
To be honest, I’ve never heard the word “adulting” before. Perhaps it is an Americanism. Or perhaps it is an original term coined by our blog challenger. Anyway, I’ll respond to her question according to what I think it means—i.e. those activities and behaviours, which mark ones transition from childhood dependency to adult independence.
I suppose securing my first full-time job was my first step upon the ladder of adulthood. Working 9-5 and earning a wage, made me feel as grown up as my parents. Most of my school friends decided to stay on at school but I was in a hurry to work and earn. I saw it as a definitive move through the door of independence. However, I was still living at home and I was expected to hand over my pay cheque, so the feeling of independence was incomplete.
Moving out of the family home, having to pay rent, buy food and plan meals allowed me to put my foot on the second rung of adulthood. Unfortunately, irresponsibility with money matters meant I found myself in debt and had to square up to the responsibility of dealing with debt collectors, pay back monies owed plus the exorbitant interest, plus still afford the daily costs of living, whilst trying to maintain an independent lifestyle.
That experience introduced me to another rung in the step ladder of adulthood—the discipline of delayed gratification. I promised never to get myself into that situation again. For years I kept that promise. However, when my husband and I moved into our new house, I couldn’t wait to see it furnished and styled the way I envisaged. So out came the credit cards! If my life could be likened to a game of snakes and ladders, I suppose at that point, any adulting ground I’d made was almost completely lost.
My most memorable step into adulthood occurred the first time I went abroad on holiday. I went with my best friend to Morocco and we had a whale of a time. We decided that we didn’t want to go to the usual places like France or Spain, and so chose an 18-30s holiday where the accommodation was in mud huts with thatched roofs, arranged in villages. It was called Camp Africa!
When we first planned this we were both so excited. But I recall my mum and an insurance man (who perhaps wasn’t very happy about me cashing in a policy to pay for the holiday), putting severe doubts in our minds about the safety and salubriousness of our country choice. As it turned out we need not have worried. We had a fantastic time and I can honestly say, it was one of the best holidays of my life.
My next significant move up the ladder of adulting, came when I got married. Setting up a home with a husband and learning to live together, learning to say “we” instead of “I”, learning to consult instead of independently making my own decisions, learning to become a united two rather than a solitary one, were part and parcel of that ascent. I’d like to think that I’ve moved up several stages in the curriculum of covenant relationship and marital harmony but since marriage is a life-time education, I’m probably still some way off from achieving my certificate of distinction!
My latest rise up the ladder of adulthood came when my dear mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For several years I had to effectively put my personal life on hold, in order to be there for her as a part-time carer, whilst still holding down a full-time job. And then this year my wonderful, supportive husband gave me leave to take a sabbatical from work in order to look after mum full-time, since I did not want her to go into a home. Sadly, my mother became quite ill and died in hospital in September this year. I wrote a post at my other blog called The Politics of Hope, sharing my thoughts and emotional struggles during this time, which you may be interested to read.
And so, it’s here that I now pause on the ladder of adulting, whilst I determine my next move, or wait for another chapter of life’s vicissitude to unfold . In terms of emotional maturity, I know I have a long way to go. But I do believe that even in this area of weakness there has been some discernible growth.
Thank you dear readers for listening. I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out and trust I did not bore you!
And should you want to know what Robert Firestone deems to be the hallmarks of true adulthood, you can read his article at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-experience/201306/six-aspects-being-adult
PHOTO CREDITS: All images used are courtesy of Pixabay.com