Last Wednesday, I had lunch with a friend of mine. We met at Eli's East, which I had never been to before. As usual, I had a great time chatting with this particular friend, who is someone I've recently gotten to know after last year's Gaylaxicon. At one point during our conversation he said that even after marriage and divorce, the thing that made him feel like a real adult was caring for houseplants.
At the time, I mostly let this comment go by, unremarked, because I was far more fascinated to know that he'd been married and divorced already. (He's younger than I am by a decade... or possibly two.)
This morning, a half a week later, I woke up thinking about this idea: what are the sorts of actions, events, etc., that make people feel like an adult? What constitutes "adulting" for most people?
I was thinking about this because I remember the first time I felt really independent, adult. It was the first time I took my own laundry down to the basement laundry room of my college freshman dorm building. I was seventeen. It was, in point of fact, the first time I'd ever done my own laundry. Despite a lot of other independent acts in high school, for some reason, doing this job that my mother traditionally ALWAYS did for me, felt like the true moment of independence. There were things about it that also felt very... Big City. I had to have quarters, figure out the machines on my own (and all the sorting rules!), and some weirdo tried to convert me to Lutheranism--he was very affronted that I had not accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior.
But, then again, my generation has, I think, less issue with "adulting" as a thing. We grew up in that mythical era when parents flung open doors to the very young and said, "Come back by dinner time," and we really did roam far from home without any supervision whatsoever. I regularly had to solve problems like, "Holy heck, how do I get my shoe out of this muck I have wandered into in the local marshlands" without being able to use my nonexistent cellphone to call for help and being miles (often literally) from home.
And I wonder if it's some of this early practicing with independence that made the transition into "adulting" a little less... noticeable? Or, maybe more accurately, MORE noticeable on a smaller scale. I mean, for my friend it was the small thing that made him feel grown, too. But, it came much later for him than for me. MUCH.
I guess my question is, how about you? No matter how old you are, do you have a singular event where you said to yourself, "Wow, this is IT. THIS is the moment I am independent. THIS is the transition into adulthood!"?? No shame if it's something "traditional," like, "The day I signed the lease to my first apartment" or "got married" or "got my driver's license." Similar, no judgments, if it's something really odd, like, "The day I bought my first pair of underwear" or something I can't even fathom.
I'm also curious if you find yourself in your late thirties (or forties or fifties or whatever) and you're still not feeling like "adulting" is a thing you do regularly.