They say growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.
As I get older, I’m learning this option is one I need to take very seriously, because being an adult comes with a whole string of questions attached.
When I turned 18, no one handed me a guidebook to growing old and becoming responsible. I thought “Maybe being 18 still means you’re a kid. Maybe I’m not quite there yet“.
So I waited until 21.
Yet another big fat nope. No manual. No instructions. No step-by-step guide. Just a bad hangover, plenty of unanswered questions and whole lot of dirty laundry.
Even today, years later, my questions remain. For example, how do I cook a proper roast? Do I need fabric softener or is it just an optional expense? How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? And don’t even get me started on putting oil in my car.
When I was a child, I was convinced you would just know when you were ready to make the big decisions in life. I’d reach a certain age and something would tell me “Go and buy a house now” or “You’re ready to get married” or “Ok, time for kids!” But the years keep ticking by and no fairy godmother has appeared to inform me it’s time to take that big step into adulthood. Instead I’m floundering around like a fish out of water, just trying to make sure I don’t forget to feed the cat.
It turns out we might just be doing the whole ‘being an adult’ thing on our own – that is, if we can even consider ourselves proper adults yet. Who’s to say exactly when we ‘grow up’? Is it when you make those big, life changing decisions? Or is it when you finally stop calling your parents on a daily basis to ask them for all the answers? (If it is the latter, I guess you could say I’ve got still got a fair way to go. Hi Mum.)
Despite all of the above, lately I feel like I’ve been making progress. There’s been moments when I’ve caught myself doing things that scream “Adult behaviour! Abort! Abort!”. But rather than stop in horror and change my ways immediately, I’m actually finding that I’m enjoying these new habits of mine.
But what are they, you ask? If I wasn’t one to share details, I wouldn’t be here now, would I? So here we go.
Five things I do that could almost be considered adult behaviour
1. When I take the washing off the clothesline, I fold it before I put it in the basket.
Yes, you heard right. I fold it straight away. When I informed my boyfriend of this newly adopted habit, he told me “That’s something my Nan would do”, and he’s right. I’m basically a Nana. Give me a blue rinse and moccasins and I’ll be on my way.
2. I choose not to eat Coco Pops and Froot Loops for breakfast.
When I was a kid, the most exciting thing about growing up was knowing that one day I would eventually be able to eat as much sugary cereal as I wanted. HALLELUJAH! We used to get the little fun packs of cereal on special occasions and always had to fight over these two particular cereals. Whoever came last got the Frosties (sucked in!). Then eventually, when I was 23, I ate Froot Loops every meal for about three days whilst at a music festival and let’s just say you don’t want to know the details and I no longer eat sugary cereal at all. The end.
3. I signed up for health insurance.
What even is that? I know it involves words like ‘cover’ and ‘extras’, and that if I ever need surgery it’s probably a good thing to have, but I still don’t know how to use it or what it gets me. But I have it and I pay for it every month, and that pretty much makes me an adult. Kind of.
4. I book my own appointments.
Even though I don’t know how to use my health insurance, you can bet your bottom dollar that I make the mature decisions to go to the doctor, dentist or optometrist when required. Ok, I admit that sometimes a mother-like figure does have to pull me up and demand I visit a health professional before I complain one more time about a certain ailment, but often enough I get there all by myself. This includes health ‘check ups’ (when you go to the doctor just to make sure you’re in fine form – yep, people do that and it’s good for you), and has also resulted in getting my wisdom teeth pulled out in the chair (which was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life) and forking out over $700 for new glasses. I could have avoided having to do these things because my Mum wasn’t there to call and book me in without my consent, but now I do it on my own. Because I’m a big girl now.
5. I can hold a baby without getting nervous or dropping it.
Holding newborns, or even very small children, used to make me incredibly shaky. I was always worried I was being too rough and those little heads roll around everywhere! I was a disaster waiting to happen. It must have been written all over my face too, because no one with a baby ever asked me if I wanted to hold them, no matter how old I got. Then one day, my best friend gave birth to a beautiful little boy and next minute, he was thrown into my arms and there I was – cradling a baby with minimal cries and no spillages. These days, plenty of people give me their kids! In fact, I pick them up without asking! Not strangers children of course, that would just be creepy. Maybe this brings me a step closer to having my own children. Maybe it reminds me I am not in any way ready. The jury’s still out on that one.
So there we go guys. Five very good reasons why I might almost be an adult.
Buuuuut (and there’s always a but), before I go and get all ahead of myself, suggesting I’m mature and all that jazz, I’d better bring myself back down to Earth. I have to be honest – there are still plenty of things going on in my life that underline my blatant lack of maturity with a big, fat sharpie.
Like the fact the first thing I’d grab in a house fire is my teddy bear (which just happens to sit right beside my bed in case of an emergency). (Not a fire kind of emergency, but a ‘I had a fight with my boyfriend’ kind of emergency’.)
And that I sometimes find myself skipping through my office instead of walking, until people politely remind me we walk inside. Not skip. (Same with inside voices. They are also suitable for the office apparently.)
It’s also pretty obvious I don’t like leaving home for too many nights because I still get homesick, but come on – who doesn’t prefer their own bed?
And when I’m sick and tired, curled up on the couch in my PJs, I desperately want my Mum to come and feed me lemonade icy poles and take my temperature because having to look after yourself when your sick seriously feels like you got short-changed somewhere along the way.
And did I mention I have a bag filled with all my favourite stuffed animals I just can’t bear to part with? Yeah, that too.
But you know what? Sitting on the fence of adulthood really isn’t so bad. We’re old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway. We can get away with crazy nights out, acting like hooligans and feeling shitty about it in the morning. But we can also use our age as an excuse to avoid said nights; stay in on the couch drinking cups of tea and be in bed by 9.30pm.
It really is the best of both worlds, so maybe I’ll just sit tight for now after all.