Why Don’t I Feel Like a Real Adult Yet?

I pay bills. I relate to my coworkers by commiserating about the weather. I bemoan meal prep and pay rent and have a “commute.” So why don’t I think of myself as a real adult?

I can vote in elections. I can (sometimes) not get ID’d at a bar (Okay, I ALWAYS get ID’d). I have a job. I spend my own money on garbage bags and toilet cleaning supplies. So why do I feel more like a freshman in this world than a grown-up?

What is a Real Adult-FB size

“It’s because you’re a millennial! You don’t know how to do anything for yourself!” – The Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers will yell.

Millennials are constantly jostled back and forth in the media between arguments that we’re “overly-confident and entitled” and claims that we have no “soft skills.” We are depicted as social media gurus adept at making ourselves look cooler than we are, when in reality we have achieved nothing of value. But is that true? Are we really as incompetent as articles about our generation suggest? And is it fair to berate a younger generation for its lack of experience?

I don’t have an answer yet. I think the competencies my friends and I possess are different than the competencies we’ve grown up perceiving as true adulthood – making us feel like we don’t measure up.

But what is ‘true adulthood’ supposed to look like anyway? Personally, I imagine someone with authority – older than me, rarely unsure about how to handle scenarios like using an ironing board or signing a lease. Someone with furniture that matches and a refrigerator with an ice machine. Someone who is an expert at their job. I envision a person that exudes stability and world know-how. This sounds like a sit-com character.

But seriously, how do anxiety-ridden 20-somethings like me contrast with the ideal adult above? For one thing, I don’t know how to use an ironing board. I hang clothes in the steamy bathroom during a shower and hope for the best. I also still shop at Forever 21 which probably heavily weights me in the non-adult camp. I don’t have furniture that matches. I have whatever furniture was cheap or free. I had to Google “things to know when signing a lease” because I felt naive (and DC real estate hunting is scary). I lack expertise and know-how on many world topics. Am I a fake adult?

I typically end my posts with recommendations and answers for others, but this time I’m asking you – what is a Real Adult? Why don’t I feel like one? Will I ever?

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below or here – Follow-up post with your answers to come!

13 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Feel Like a Real Adult Yet?

  1. Melissa Webster says:

    You know you are an adult when you ask adult questions like you do in your blog. I hate to say it- you’re adult if you ponder such matters.
    The questions and mystique of what comes next and what does it all mean never ends. It is life. It is adult life. Welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura says:

    We’re all fakin’ it till we make it. I have two teen sons, one headed to college next year, and I still feel like I’m in the land of make believe. I think that growing up is recognizing that we are all out here, doing the best we can, and nobody knows it all. That’s why we network. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Taylor Paquette says:

    I think what’s great about being alive today is that there is so much less pressure to conform to societal norms like in previous generations. If you wanted to feel adult before, you’d be married and have kids by now. Being adult is subjective and from what I’ve gathered, no one really becomes an adult, they just take on more responsibilities. Everyone is still figuring it out for their whole life. Enjoy the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sandrarosem says:

    I consider an adult to be simply someone with an assured confidence, willing to step out of the “young” phase. I have a coworker that is around the same age and has the same position as me. However, she exudes confidence and performs her role with ease and grace while I doubt myself on a daily basis and still stumble and constantly worry if I am capable of the job yet as I’m so “young”. Am I ready to direct people, give a huge presentation, be fully responsible for a project???? I get crazy anxiety about such things and categorize myself as too young or inexperienced.
    I think it all comes down to our own decisions and the perception you have of yourself. The longer you consider yourself “adulting” and “transitioning to adulthood” the longer you stay in that gray area, constantly questioning yourself and your capabilities of becoming a so-called full blown adult.
    An adult to me is having the confidence to truly believe you are no longer a child, have endless capabilities, and can be taken seriously. That power lies with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amanda says:

    I feel that if you’re paying your own rent and your own bills, you’re an adult. I just think there are different types of adults — there are adults who are obsessed with saving money and buying a house, they are adults who get married and have families and there are adults like myself who still are unmarried and just getting started in the grand scheme of life (after 5 years of grad and law school). It’s not too different than we were in high school. There were people who had jobs, saved money and bought cars, ones who were obsessed with dating and then there was me who basically only liked to dance and have fun.


  6. Tom says:

    You make such a good point Meaghan, I also find myself wandering the same thing every once in a while. But I think we each have our own perception of what it means to be an adult and let’s be honest, deep inside most of don’t want to be that person.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hayley Cook says:

    I think this idealistic view of “reaching adulthood” is completely just a perception; it’s this belief that there is someone out there who has their shit together, and because we’re looking up to this nonexistent person we feel insecure in our ability to handle responsibility or take on the challenges that “adulthood” may present to us. It’s this inferiority complex that has us continually plagued with the thought that we’re lacking maturity or an ability to be the age we are. That perceived adulthood is scary to me–As soon as I get my shit together, the challenge and fun of life disappears. So all I can hope for is the self-confidence to make it through the day and the ability to find the joy in life so that I never feel old.


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