This prompt made me stop and think because in order to answer it honestly I have to determine what being a “grown up” is to me. Is it being able to support myself fully? Turning 21 and being able to vote and drink legally? Getting married? It’s a good question and one that I feel people will interpret differently.
In some ways I felt like a grown up in high school. My parents divorced, my mom had to find full-time work and I was often in charge of making dinner and taking care of myself. I also had to work a part-time job in order to buy things I wanted, like clothes and music. At that time, 16 or 17, I felt I was an adult but in retrospect, of course, I realize how very young I was and that I was acting, trying to mimic the actions of older persons around me. I was naive, inexperienced and thrust into some heavy responsibility early in life but that did not make me a grown-up.
So I went away to college, worked various jobs, moved overseas for two years and even got married and divorced before I truly felt like a grown up. The moment I realized I had crossed the threshold into adulthood was when I signed my first mortgage. I recall being exhilarated and terrified at the same time. Taking out a 30 year loan for a piece of property, knowing I had to earn the money each month to pay for it, understanding that I was solely responsible for upkeep, repairs, furnishing, etc., was the act that propelled me fully into being a grown-up. I’m not sure if it was the sense of permanency or financial commitment that made this act such an important one for me. Maybe a little of both. But I was quite proud that I was able to secure a loan and make payments all by myself. I did not need to rely on anyone else for a down payment or a co-signature. I was on my own.
Certainly there were times in the 9 years I lived in that house that I questioned my decision. When the basement flooded, the roof leaked, the sewage lines backed up….plenty of times I wanted to shirk it all and leave this realm called adulthood. But I also loved my house, my yard and the sense that I had accomplished it all by hard work and a little luck.