You Know You’re an Adult When These Things Are True

There was a time when our concept of adulthood was clearly proscribed. A young person of legal age (think 20-something year olds) would be thought of as a true adult when they got married, bought or rented a home, finished their education, supported themselves financially, and started a family. 

It’s time to take another look at this (outdated) paradigm of the transition to adulthood.

There are new ways to look at adulthood. Here are 27. (Twenty20 @CassMcD)

Twenty-seven signs that you’re an adult

  1. You make your own independent decisions but are grown up enough to seek advice, input and resources from those who know more than you. That might be your parents, a lawyer, or a friend. 
  2. When things go wrong you don’t look for someone else to blame, but rather you look for solutions. Things go wrong, and adults know that is life. 
  3. When you mess up, you accept the blame and offer a sincere apology as you try to put things right. 
  4. You can manage the details on a daily basis. Life is full of details like dentist appointments, renewing insurance, and keeping the car clean. None of these things are fun at any age but they have to get done. 
  5. You have your social security number memorized and don’t need to text your mom each and every time the question is asked on a form. SERIOUSLY. 
  6. You try to save money, and now completely understand what your parents meant about it not growing on trees. 
  7. You live within your means. Even if parents and grandparents are subsidizing your life or paying your tuition or helping with student loans, you can properly budget every week so that there is no red ink, and no pleading for more money at the end of the month. As a responsible adult, you can manage your spending to fit your income. 
  8. You don’t spend money you don’t have, even if your credit card encourages you to do so.
  9. You appreciate how much higher education costs and you try to get the most out of yours. 
  10. You may not be financially independent or own your own home, but that is your goal and you take financial responsibility for the things you can afford. 
  11. You are on time to work, school, or meeting others. You know that being late is rude and disrespectful to co-workers. 
  12. You understand the role of credit and student loan debt in your life and that high interest rates will get you into trouble in the long run. You think about ways you can improve your credit rating. 
  13. You can cook a meal that you and others would want to eat. When planning and preparing your meals you consider budget, nutrition, and taste.
  14. You may not need or want to get married, but you are willing to work towards a meaningful romantic relationship. You already know that no stable loving relationship, or friendship, is perfect, that it takes work but it is ultimately worth the effort. 
  15. If you still need to live in your parents’ home, but you remember that you are not a 16-year-old and you take an adult roles in helping the house run smoothly. You even offer to do laundry for other members of the family. 
  16. You love celebrating others’ success. It doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself, okay, only for a minute, but a real adult finds joy in the accomplishments of others. 
  17. You can pack and move yourself from one place to another, though it is still nice when your parents can help. 
  18. You invest in your well-being in your daily life through healthy eating, exercise, and sleeping enough. No one has to nag or remind you to do this. 
  19. You’re thrilled when your mom offers to do your laundry, but you don’t expect her to. 
  20. You ask yourself if something is a good idea (late drinks on Sunday night with work on Monday) rather than just jumping at to go out because a friend suggests it. 
  21. You take responsibility for others. You help a friend who has had one too many to get home safely. You bring soup to a friend who is sick. You know that true friendship means showing up for others and acting like a responsible adult. 
  22. You are working toward a goal that is meaningful to you. That can be finding that dream job. Saving money to buy a car or take on a mortgage. Learning to code. Or just trying to find a group of friends that feel like home. 
  23. You may not have the dream job (and you are still striving towards that goal) but you have strung together a life that makes you both useful and solvent. Gig work, short term assignments, internships, they all make money and may offer useful work experience. You know that steady work is an accomplishment. 
  24. You know yourself well enough to know what your limits and tolerance are for alcohol and legal drugs. You use them both in a way that does not adversely impact your life, health, or relationships. 
  25. You try to fix something before calling for help, but if you can’t you know who to call to help you get it fixed. 
  26. You break up with friends or romantic partners face-to-face. You don’t act like a coward and send a text. 
  27. You understand what is happening in the world around you and can talk intelligently about the issues of the day.

More Great Reading:

50 Things You Can Do When You are 18

The Adulting 101 Syllabus: 20 Life Skills I’m Teaching My Teens

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

Read more posts by Lisa

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