You would think at the age of 41 (oh my, it still hurts to say that) I would be comfortable with the label grown-up. But it’s just, well, it’s just I don’t feel like a grown-up, or rather it isn’t how I imagined it would be.
There are points along the way, when society crowns you with grown-up status: when you are 18 and can legally vote; when you turn 21 (not sure what actually changes at 21 these days, but it’s a good excuse for a party); when you move out from the family home and no longer have direct access to the Bank of Mum and Dad.
Or, I often ponder, whether you are ever really a grown-up until you have children, and have to put someone else first.
When I was younger, I always associated grown-up status with reaching a place when it all made sense; I genuinely thought that there was a moment in life you arrived at where you just got it, that you finished your growing up apprenticeship and moved on to official adulthood, a place where you were now good at the job of life. Ha!
My first taste of this untruth was when I discovered that my parents didn’t know everything: the realisation that they were just doing their best, and essentially making it up as they went along (yes, like all parents).
Of course, then I headed into my teenage years and didn’t give a damn what my parents thought. What the hell did they know? At the age of sixteen, I was the fountain of ALL knowledge – obviously – and definitely knew more than my parents; I declared never to make the mistakes they had made, and to be successful, happy and excellent at life. Simple.
But as I left my bolshy teenage years behind, the truth came to bite me on my know-it-all ass. And I discovered it’s even worse than I had first thought: it is not just your parents who don’t have all the answers, it is everyone; there is not a magical age at which you arrive when you suddenly understand life. Sure, you learn stuff along the way, but then you just become aware of some other stuff you don’t know.
On the outside, I have all the makings of a grown-up: I answer to the very grown-up sound of Mrs Cripps; there is always food in the fridge and spare toilet rolls in the cupboard; I drink wine (although not at the moment *sob*) not pints of cider or shots of tequila; I go out to lunch or dinner with friends, rather than falling out of clubs at 3 am and wobbling home; I visit museums, go to the theatre and watch films with subtitles; holidays are now referred to as travelling and are to learn about the world, not to party with the girls and frizzle on the beach.
When I look at my friends with children – the same friends I used to fall out of those clubs with – I’m not sure if they are more grown-up than me. They certainly have more responsibility, and less freedom (and lighter purses) but they have not acquired the answers to life – I don’t think. Of course, they are experiencing something I will never get to experience, and that does give them a different perspective on life.
With no plans to have children, maybe I am Ms Peter Pan – albeit a wrinkled version – who gets to be as selfish with my time in my 40s (ooh, that hurt too) as I was in my 20s – I just choose to spend my time in a different way.
But if being a grown-up is about becoming more sensible and, dare I say it, boring (although, I would prefer to say more cultured) then I have arrived, it just doesn’t feel like I thought it would. But I suspect I will be saying exactly the same in 20 years time.
Hey, maybe this kind of wisdom maketh the grown-up.
This post was inspired by one of the questions asked in VEDA – Vlog Every Day in August – which two blogging friends, Billygean and Jacki, are taking part in. (I am not brave enough to vlog.) You can see their thoughts on this topic here: