No one said growing up is easy. But then again, no one said that there would be someone waiting with a gold medal for you when you're an "adult" either. Here are a few signs of adulthood that no one will congratulate you on:
1. Getting a speeding ticket
Yes, it sucks. It's two-hundred-and-seventy-five dollars of sucks, and your parents are certainly not going to congratulate you. You can choose to sit around and dwell in your misery, or you can look back, laugh at the moment, and realize you’re a total BAMF for doing it. The fact that getting pulled over again will result in a suspended license doesn’t really seem so bad. Oh, and getting your first parking ticket a week later isn’t the most riveting thing in the world either, but at least you are old enough to drive.
2. When you show up to Thanksgiving dinner and you are no longer seated at the kids’ table
What are you even supposed to talk about? The latest episode of Spongebob and the gossip about who’s-dating-who in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade English class seem a lot more interesting than the economy and the weather. The rest of the “adult” table seems to ignore the seemingly smooth transition, while on the inside, you’re really just dying to defend your title in the mashed potato sculpture contest going on in the room down the hall.
3. Taking your first real interview
Interviewing for a job means you’re looking for a job. Jobs are for adults. Therefore, you’re an adult. Sitting on the T in a suit heading downtown seems a bit overwhelming, but it’s certainly a right of passage. You may walk out after being told, “We’ll give you a call,” but you certainly aren’t going to be told, “Congrats on your adulthood. Welcome to the real world.”
4. When you first realize you know more (about anything) than Mom and Dad
Unfortunately, there comes a point in time where Mom can no longer effectively proofread your paper for you. She isn’t going to catch the mistakes you make when you list the effects of your S. cerevisiae met gene mutations on the methionine biosynthesis pathway. Just remember, Mom is always going to understand the way of the world better than you ever will, and Dad is always going to know how to work a power drill better than you can.
5. When the fictional childhood hero that you seemed to grow up with becomes an adult
In his first year Harry Potter was fixed on his Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans and chocolate frogs. Over the next seven years Harry really got his act together. If you were there to see him catch his first snitch, have his first kiss, and experience the death of several close friends, you’ve probably also grown a bit older too.
6. You think of a great, new idea
“Wow,” you think to yourself, “I just had a really deep thought.” This is how Samuel W. Francis felt when he invented the spork or that mind-blowing response when you realized what was going on in the movie Inception. What came first – the chicken or the egg? Does everyone perceive the color blue the same way or is my blue her yellow? Whatever it is, you had better write it down, because it will probably pass with your next distraction.
7. Feeling responsible for someone older than you
Babysitting in high school made you feel old. Keeping a plant (or maybe even a fish if you were feeling ambitious) alive through at least one semester of college may seem like a great accomplishment. But when someone older is also dependent on you makes you feel like a real adult. At South Station an old woman going the same direction on the T as me couldn’t figure out how to maneuver the red line. To be completely honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing myself, but I was able to figure it out and get us where we needed to be. We chatted the entire trip, and she ended up giving me a goodbye hug and a, “Thank you so much dear, good luck in life.”
8. Signing your first lease
That’s your name on the lease, not Mom or Dad’s. You have to keep in mind that there is such a thing as a late fee. There’s also the advance rent and security deposit. If you’re really lucky you’ll even get to deal with a broker’s fee. Congrats.
9. Traveling alone for the first time
There’s a first time for everything and the first time traveling alone can become a struggle. All of the antsy people around you in the airport or the bus terminal push past you, assuming you’ve done this dozens of times before when all you really want to do is follow your parents. Now you have to remember to pack your own ticket, snacks, and ID. There are highs and lows to traveling alone. It can be pretty peaceful, and you can even make an adventure of it. The biggest downfall is that you can’t obnoxiously ask the person in the seat next to you, “Are we there yet?”
10. Cooking a meal for yourself
At seven you mastered cereal and milk. At ten years old it was Kid Cuisine. And the art of spaghetti was learned around 13. You may have even figured out brownies and cupcakes after years of being able to stir the batter, pour the water from the measuring cup, and eventually even crack the eggs, leaving a few shells in the batter for added crunch. These are a couple important steps in your path to becoming the next Iron Chef, but to cook your first real meal is quite an achievement. No, frozen food doesn’t count. Pots, pans, and knives must be involved.
Featured image courtesy of Pod Bean/ Jeff Schechtman.