When I grew up, I wanted to be a vet. I wanted to study at Onderstepoort and become an orthopedic surgeon for animals. I wanted to be married by the time I was 22, with a big house and three kids. I just never actually pictured what it would take to get there, and somehow, life happened while I was making other plans. What I didn’t plan on was becoming an adult.

When you’re a kid, you don’t really think of all the awkward in-between stages of growing up. There’s the pre-teens, so eager to not be considered a child anymore. There’s the teenagers, rebelling and doing everything they know they shouldn’t, but somehow aware that it’s expected of them. The young adults, just out of high school, realising how small a fish they really are in the big pond. And then suddenly, you’re just magically an adult, right?

To me, my parents were the epitome of adults. They paid the bills. They bought the food. When there was an issue, they knew how to fix it. They had it all figured out. I never considered what it would take to get there. Paying bills and owning washing machines were for big people. Insurance, cars, hanging pictures in frames and with actual nails, instead of just sticking that giant, oversized poster of Zac Efron’s face to the wall with Prestik. C’mon guys, I know that wasn’t just me. But those were all things people did when they had their shit sorted out.

Here I am, at twenty five years old, in my first corporate(ish) job, wondering how we got to this point. We own the washing machine, even if it leaks water all over the floor. We pay the bills, even though we wonder how electricity could possibly cost that much. We even try to fix the things that break along the way. And a recent conversation with my dad led me to realise that no-one, not even adults, have everything sorted.

That transition happens slowly. It happens so sneakily, that you don’t even realise you’re turning into an adult. You learn to drive. You might set the food on fire a couple of times, but somehow you learn to cook. You start to realise what your contribution to society is, you start talking to people about things other than homework and what’s happening on the weekend. Sometimes you even start picking up things about politics, religion, sex and you form opinions for yourself. It happens organically, because most of the time you don’t have someone shouting “you need to grow up” in your face.

One day, like me, you may wake up in a place that you’re paying for yourself. You’ve got the bills — sure, they’re scary, but you’ve got them down. You realise that there are people who depend on you, and some part of your brain knows that what you do has consequences, and who you are matters.

I don’t have the degree from Onderstepoort, I’m not married and I definitely cannot afford my own house. I’m not the person I thought I’d be when I grew up. Hell, I don’t even want kids anymore. Most days, I feel like I can adult. I can mimic the acts, go to work, and talk about the things. But sometimes all I want to do is wear PJ’s and eat Coco Pops for breakfast. And I know that this is all okay, because transition takes time. And not even adults get everything right all the time.

You know you’re an Adult™ when:

  1. You know your ID number off by heart
  2. You know how to do your own washing. Sometimes you even know that you can’t put everything in the same wash.
  3. You know that life is not fair, and that shit happens.
  4. Saying sorry is a part of life.
  5. So is messing up.
  6. You can survive without a cell phone.
  7. You’re the one that has to arrange your own doctor and dentist appointments.
  8. You agree with the parents in Disney movies. No, that is not love. Grow up.
  9. You can eat whatever you want for dinner, even cake. And no one can stop you.

Let us know in the comments, how did you finally know you were an adult?

Author

Just a girl, wishing she were a cat. You can find this peanut-butter enthusiast curled up in a sunny corner with a good book and a glass of wine.

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