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How Do You Define Being Grown Up?

I recently talked to a guy I hadn’t seen in almost two years who told me that he had gotten married in that time and was now expecting a baby.

Well, his wife was actually the one carrying the fetus; this isn’t Junior after all. What got me thinking was his last comment:

“Yeah, it was time for me to grow up.

What? Since when is knocking someone up (albeit with her permission) THE criteria for being an adult? This guy has a great job, owns his home, drives a nice car, hosts dinner parties—and cooks—for his friends, travels, is kind to animals and strangers, and laughs a lot. If this isn’t the life of a mature adult, what the heck is?

As I enter a new decade—the ‘grown-up’ decade—I can’t help but wonder: how do you define being grown up?

I’ve watched friends, coworkers and café patrons I’ve eavesdropped on approach their 40s and suddenly declare that some behavior, outfit, attitude or job is no longer acceptable, and they will be throwing it away like a bag of moldy bread. Unbridled laughter, sitting on the floor, walking in the rain without an umbrella, eating dessert first, making out in the car, climbing trees, wearing t-shirts with funny cartoons, giggling at farts, pursuing a job in the arts—all signs of irresponsible youth!

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

― C.S. Lewis

Getting married, having babies, paying a mortgage, and reducing your rate of sexual intercourse—this, and only this, is what constitutes being an adult? A boyfriend once told me, when I said I was uninterested in these things, that I wasn’t a real woman, there was something wrong with me, and I should seek professional help. I suggested that he come visit me in the 21st century. I’ve found that whenever someone begins a sentence with “Isn’t it time you…?” what they really mean is that you should be living their life because, let’s face it, if they had to ‘settle down’, damn it, so do you.

As long as I’m self-supporting, pay my taxes, contribute to society, and be of service to others, why should it matter if I love someone deeply without a marriage certificate and choose to live the rest of my life without ever changing a diaper? This doesn’t make my life any less purposeful or my maturity any less existent.

I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old.
― Maya Angelou

So how do you define being grown up? Is there a day when you turn in your youth like a confiscated driver’s license? Can you be grown up and still young at heart at the same time? Can you follow your passion on the road less traveled and still feel fulfilled (and can you feel fulfilled when using clichés?)?

It’s as if for most people the only barometer of adulthood is wearing a ring and having a kid. But how about measuring how grown up you are by how independent and personal your choices are?

Read more posts by Selena Templeton, love and relationship expert. Selena blogs for JenningsWire.

JenningsWire.com is created by National Publicity Firm, Annie Jennings PR that offers their prestigious pay for performance publicity model where clients can select the publicity path that results in the most power, credibility and thought leadership for them in the areas of TV, print and online.