Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: I am a grown up

It occurred to me that I might be a grown up. I mean, I look around and all my friends are like full grown fucking adults. They have jobs, own businesses, own houses… some of them own multiple houses. They have cars. And graduate degrees. And then I was like wow… I’m 36 and married and have kids and know people with houses and jobs and graduate degrees and they’re not my mom’s friends. What the fuck?

You know, here I am, sitting on the couch, watching… C-SPAN, MSNBC, a documentary on sustainability, Snooki being interviewed on an internet talk show… and I’m like really? This is what being an adult is like? I mean, I guess I can buy all the boxes of wine I want. And swear on the fucking internet without my dad grounding me from the internet. And if I had a job and money I could even go out as late as I want… which isn’t much past midnight because I’m tired and have shit to do in the morning… like going to the grocery store and picking up my kids’ inhalers from the pharmacy.

And I’m even rushing this post because I spent the morning cleaning my apartment, cooking dinner (because I seriously insist that fries and Corn Pops do not count as an acceptable dinner), medicating my sick kid, and maybe reading an article on NPR about why Beyonce would be an awesome scientist. The NPR thing almost counts as slackery kid shit except it’s NPfuckingR (HA! TAKE THAT, DAD!). Cool kids do not read NPR. Cool grown ups do. So I’m either a really uncool 36 year old teenager or a bad ass adult. A bad ass adult who really sort of feels like a kid in a grown up lady’s body and has no idea what she’s doing and is all like WHOA WHAT?! But a bad ass nonetheless.

So… weird, right? Are you a grown up? Do you FEEL like a grown up? Is it weird to you talking to other grown ups like you’re one of them? How do you know when you’re a grown up? Does it feel good? Is it better than that thing where you eat a jar of gummy bear vitamins for breakfast because they’re candy but healthy?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

ETA: um… you know how twice in this article I say I’m 36? I’m not. I’m 35. I’m apparently an adult who doesn’t know how old she is but has an idea about roughly how old she might be…. because years are hard, yo.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. This is something that haunts me almost daily. No. I don’t feel like a grown-up. I look in the mirror and I still see a 16 year old on some days. I can’t figure out why that is. Yes, I am 32, married, have a house and two cars but I sometimes feel like it’s pretend. That it’s not mine. Part of that may be disassociating myself with my house (which was a very bad decision to purchase in 2006 and causes regular difficulty in my life.) Perhaps part of it is not feeling the independence that I thought would come with adulthood. Also, not achieving goals or not even knowing what goals I want to achieve make me feel immature even though, I understand that can be completely normal in adulthood as well.

    WOW! Downer response!

    I also really love One Direction.

  2. I was once at a reading by Margaret Atwood (who seems like she’s be awesome to share a pint with). She said that she always believed “the grownup are the people who are 15 years older than me, however old that is.”

  3. I don’t know–I think it was Gertrude Stein who said “you’re always the same age inside.” I turned 37 a few weeks ago: no kids, but a 14-year relationship (married for 6 of it), a full-time job that I’ve had for over 10 years, a homestead/farm (and heading into our fifth lambing, expecting 30+ little ones). And in terms of being able to draw boundaries with abusive family members and learning more about myself while still trying to improve, I feel like I’ve grown, if not exactly “grown up.” However, there’s still part of me that unabashedly loves “family” movies (i.e., cartoons) and superhero movies, etc., etc. (not to mention shows like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Batman Beyond”) , and I feel like *other people* consider that immature, even if I find meaning and/or interesting tropes in them. (Seriously, I was recently talking about how “Megamind” reminds me of Camus’ essay on Sisyphus and finding meaning in struggle.) So…I guess, I don’t feel “grown up” so much as I feel like I’m farther along the path I’m travelling. /ramble

  4. I’m a bad ass adult who sometimes has bacon and ice cream for dinner or popcorn for supper. I own a car and an apartment (all by myself by the way, car loan and mortgage paid in full) and make healthful dinners most days, but I also irresponsibly read until 4 am just because the book was so exciting.

  5. I feel like I am forever stuck in kid/adult limbo. I’m 46 , with a wife, two kids (one about to start driving), a house, two cars, and a snow blower. I have a PhD, yet I often have Impostor’s Syndrome at work and wonder if I can make it to retirement before the other scientists here realize I don’t know jack shit about anything. My boss once described me to a visiting executive as “one of our senior scientists” and I actually looked behind me when she pointed in my direction, because I was certain she must have meant someone else. And I still spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do when I grow up. I have been taking piano lessons for about 4 years, yet when I try to play simple duets with my 10yo, she totally kicks my ass and then oh-so-patiently suggests that maybe I need to practice more before gently patting me on the head.

    At this point in my life, I don’t really know what it means to be a grownup, but I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify.

  6. Deciding to eat ice cream for dinner was my first Official Grown Up act. I still have trouble getting out of bed, dressing, doing laundry, folding and hanging laundry, cleaning my room, and feeding myself on time, though, all of which I’ve been doing on my own since I was 11, so I really have no excuse. And I can’t go a single month without at least one day putting my underwear on backwards and/or inside-out. So I’m really glad I don’t have kids. And as a grown-up, I get to make that choice, too. My friends assure me it gets easier at least. But my step-mom still pays for my cell phone; otherwise I wouldn’t have one at all and wouldn’t ever call her. (Now I play a lot of Words with Friends and never call her.) And I definitely have no plans for marriage or home-ownership or any other visible markers of Official Adult Responsibility, but I dyed my hair purple recently, which was certainly never allowed in my school. I figure that as long as I have a job, a place to live, a car, and pay my bills, maybe I get a C+ at Being Grownup.

  7. Being an adult means that when I need to go to the dentist no one except me is going to make me go, no one is going to make the appointment for me or remind me about it. Every perk of adulthood has an equal and balancing responsibility. Since my children have all reached adulthood and I am no longer responsible for them I feel more like a real grown up and less like I am playing at it, how strange:-)

  8. Yaaa…. I’m mid-thirties, sole provider, house, 2 cars and I make my own dental appointments. But I also dye my hair bright purple and play D&D with my friends just like I did when I was 16. I felt like the dividing line for me was when I spent my own money on new plates. They weren’t my mom’s hand me downs, they weren’t temporary dishes from a yard sale. I went to a store with money I got from my job and bought plates with it instead of a video game. I still don’t “feel” like an adult, whatever that’s like, but I feel like I can take care of myself pretty ok, and that’s close enough.

  9. I’m in my early thirties, just started dating, going to college for the first time. I kind of assumed I would feel like an adult when I got into a long term sexually intimate relationship, but I’m starting to think that’s not going to happen.

    At the same time, I’ve kinda felt like an adult ever since I planned my first vacation.

  10. I’m alwayshappy to be the age that I am. Every birthday I subconsciously readjust my ideas about what “ridiculously young” is (it means younger than me) and “kinda old” (older than me). But also every year I think with pleasure about how I’ve finally grown up emotionally and learned how not to screw up friendships and how to be tactful and to understand other people better, not like that emotionally immature fool I was last year. I can guarantee it that next year I’ll look back on the stupid shit I did this year, and feel grateful that finally I’m past doing THAT sort of thing any more.
    I’m 40.

  11. I’m in a weird place. I have a pension, health insurance in my own name (in the UK where health insurance isn’t usually a thing) and am genuinely thinking about buying myself some slippers.

    On the other hand I’m temporarily living with my parents (while I find a permanent place to live) and still as inept romantically as when I was 16, it seems.

    Am I a grown up or not?

  12. I’m only 22, so I get to pretend I’m not an adult yet, but I pay my own rent, have a for real big kid job, set my own rules about where to spend my money and my time…so I guess I’m an adult? I think no one ever quite adjusts to the fact that they’re “the establishment” or that they’re supposed to be responsible or know what they’re doing. Very rarely do we feel quite comfortable in our lives and habits because things change on us and life is hard and there’s always new things to figure out. No matter how old you are, I’m sure you never feel “adult” because you’re still trying to figure out the world.

  13. I’m 31. I’ve had my own apartment for over a decade — no roommates (fuck roommates). My car, while ugly, is totally paid for. But I seriously don’t feel like an adult.

  14. I’m still a kid, I’m just allowed to play with more dangerous shit now. Seriously – you ever seen the warning on a PTO shaft? Terrifying.

  15. I like that all of you KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE. So apparently just me and my 2 year old are the only ones on earth who don’t know our ages.

  16. Elyse, I really and truly thought I was turning 36 this past Lizmas but I’m only 34! I suspect the cause of this mental disconnect has something to do with time travel.

  17. I definitely feel like an adult, and have felt that way for a long time.

    But for me, “being an adult” has more to do with how I’m treated than some inner vision of myself. And I remember distinctly when _that_ changed. It was when I graduated from college and started working for a lab at the school I’d been a student at. When I talked with people at the University, they suddenly paid attention to what I said and took it seriously, rather than giving me that “let’s give the little student a cookie, pat him on the head, and send him on his way” look. They assumed I’d do what they needed me to do, it mattered to them whether I did it, and they were paying me to do it!

    Another milestone was when my first child was born, and I suddenly realized I held his life in my hands. I no longer had the option of screwing things up. Or, to put it another way, my life was no longer my own.

    On the other hand, there’s a down side: you realize that your life is finite, and its limit is not off in some hazy never-never-land, but in the forseeable future.

  18. I remember when I was 26, I was involved in a car accident. No-one was hurt but both cars were written-off. They guy who hit me was a young, new driver – I’d say around 17 or 18 years old. The incident was totally his fault – he turned against a red arrow at an intersection. When the police arrived, they were about my age, and pretty much “sided” with me from the outset. Part of that was because I was in the right, but part of it was because I was the older, more mature driver.

    I remember thinking all the time that I was too young to be automatically considered to be mature and responsible. I’m 44 now, and I still think that.

    ps. It makes we wonder how my parents ever managed after they had kids at age 20!!

  19. It’s definitely weird talking to adults like I am one. It’s fairly new; I’m turning 19 in March. It’s also weird/awesome that I and other Teen Skepchick people will be on panels at SkepchickCON with all the other adults :O

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