What is a ‘grown up’?

by | What is normal

My friend told me last week that she doesn’t think she is a ‘real’ adult. She has a fulltime job, she lives on her own, she makes her own dinner and does her own washing, she pays tax, she can drive but yet she is still not a ‘real’ grown up. Although she is doing all of these good things, and doing them well, she is completely focused on the things she doesn’t have.

She doesn’t have a particular career. She teaches English to adults at the minute and she really enjoys it but she doesn’t know if she wants to do that ‘forever’. She is dating a pilot. He was training to be a pilot when she met him and now he is working as a pilot. He also has stocks and a mortgage. Although my friend is happy with what she has, she doesn’t have a particular career and therefore she presumes she’s not a ‘real’ grown up.

If you are around certain things all the time, you could start thinking that you ‘should’ have these things as well. But do you really want them? Are you happy with how things are for you? Is it that you’re thinking that you ‘should’ have them instead of actually wanting them? Just a few things to think about….

My friend also doesn’t know where she wants to live. She is happy where she is living now but again, will she be there ‘forever’? When I told people in Belfast that I was moving to Galway, I was asked a few times if I would be there forever. I was generally polite in my response but I was thinking ‘What is forever…?’

Our society is changing. My parents had a certain amount of pressure on them to find a permanent job, get married and have a family, in that order. Those same pressures can be on you now, if you allow them to bother you.

The brain has the habit of focusing on negatives. This comes from our time as stone age people when we needed to be careful not to eat the poisons plants or to get caught by wild animals. Sometimes it is good to be able to identify the negatives but in general we do it way too much! I think that my friend is too focused on the things she doesn’t have, instead of being proud of the things that she does have and the things that she does well!

After that our conversation turned towards money and our joint need to always be able to pay our way. ‘I am a grown up! I can pay for myself!’ I say to myself and to others. But both myself and my friend are aware of this trait and we are both working on it. My friend was telling me that she was putting pressure on herself to be able to pay her half of any holidays with her boyfriend. She put herself under this pressure until she realised that she wasn’t able to do that. She started understanding that her boyfriend didn’t mind paying more and she is now becoming more comfortable with that.

For me, living at home for the past month I am spending a lot of time with my parents. They don’t let me pay for anything when I am with them. They know that I don’t make a huge amount of money and they don’t want me to but under pressure. For the most part, I could afford to pay for the things they pay for but they want to help me and they’re happy to do so, and I am getting more comfortable just letting them pay.


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