Some might argue that I’ve acted like a grown up for a long time. Much longer than is probably normal or healthy. Example, I’ve been watching 60 Minutes since the fourth grade, possibly earlier. If I was completely honest with myself, I would have to admit that to some degree I acted above my age level because I liked the attention that is paid to nine year old casually discussing world events. Through my elementary years, I was charming to most adults, and insufferable to most children. At 21, I am no longer precocious. Instead, I now find myself regularly startled by the fact that, in many ways, I really am a grown up now.
In some sense, I think adulthood never stops being surprising. At least, I haven’t found an adult yet who doesn’t look around sometimes and wonder how they got here, with the house, the kids, the mortgage, and the water bill. Just out of college, I am slightly horrified, but mostly charmed by the ways that my own adulthood is reaffirmed at every turn. Ya, it’s scary in all the stereotypical ways that every major life-stage shift is. But I still find plenty of cheap thrills in the mundane world of choosing my own direction and paying for my own stuff.
Let’s start with the fact that I love grocery shopping. It still makes me feel grown up to pick out what kind of cereal I would like to buy this week. I give myself extra grown up points if I choose something like, “Extra Fiber Go Lean Crunch” over “Peanut Butter Panda Puffs*.” Other activities that make me feel like a real grown up:
- Taking my car to the mechanic.
- Getting my oil changed. (Before I got a boyfriend who does it for me, that is.)
- Writing checks.
- Buying stamps.
- Navigating airports.
- Dealing with any government agency.
- Talking to my insurance agent. (Um, car insurance. I’m not that grown up.)
- Taking clothes to the tailor. (Confession: I probably could hem my own jeans, but I get a surprising amount of satisfaction in paying the cute couple at the tailor shop to do it.)
- Owning stationery.
- Dressing in business casual attire.
- Not calling my mother before I make a purchase over $100. (I still do mostly. I hate spending money and usually need someone else to talk me into it.)
- Being waited on by anyone who looks younger than me.
- Choosing my own dentist.
- Getting junk mail addressed to me.
Those are just the little things. There are of course the big ones like voting, drinking, or attending the weddings of friends.
Last Thursday, at Matt’s fancy work party, I walked around a country club holding a vodka tonic with cranberry in one hand, and a martini glass filled with ceviche (seafood salad) in the other. I looked around at women wearing pearls and holding wine glasses, at men in collared shirts loading up tiny plates with mozzarella and sundried tomato skewers or spicy tuna sushi rolls. Then I looked over at a crowd of men out on the patio staring at the sky. Matt works for a company that makes unmanned aircraft. Drones and things. I don’t really know. Anyway, Matt and I wander outside towards the group of men who are clustered around a guy holding a giant controller with about ten little joysticks and a bunch of buttons. Up in the sky, a tiny plane is zipping and swooping, diving towards the ground at a ninety degree angle and then swiftly shooting back up again. Ahh, of course, what do the big shot engineers do at their big shot contract party? They play with their toy airplane.
*Every time I buy these, Matt bemoans the poor endangered pandas that went into making them. Every. Single. Time.