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lloydbird's avatar

How can you tell when you are grown up?

Asked by lloydbird (8725points) October 5th, 2009

When does the transition occur? Is there a specific point? Is it the same ‘point’ for each of us? Is there such a thing? Could it be that none of us do, and that we are just on a track? Did older cultures handle this better? With their ‘initiation’ ceremonies and such? Do such ceremonies still occur, but in secret? And perhaps most importantly, do you want to ‘grow up’?

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63 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

I love this question. Let me tell you I have studied this, lol. Specifically what I studied was the decline in “coming of age” or “rites of passage” ceremonies, particularly in reference to becoming an adult.

Most cultures used to have a very clear ‘coming of age’ ceremony (some subtle, some not so subtle). At some point we seem to have lost this. And the psychology of it says that these ceremonies are extremely beneficial to individuals and societies, that the decline of such ceremonies has impacted our society negatively.

In the US it can be very unclear when someone becomes a ‘grown up’. Without the rite-of-passage it is very unclear when someone becomes an adult. For example we have teens that we expect to act “grown up” and to “know better” but we have college students that we consider kids still. It is a double standard with negative impacts.

I would love to see the cultural ceremonies return. I think that from my research and my personal experience our individual selves as well as our societies in general would benefit greatly.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i got fur where i didn’t have fur before.

cyndyh's avatar

One night the grown-up fairy visits your house and you wake up with muscles and strange smells and you suddenly understand escrow.

hannahsugs's avatar

I was just thinking about this the other night. By many standards, I might be “grown up” now. I’ve spent one month at my new job, I’m self-sufficient for the first time in my life, I have health insurance through my job, I rent a house, own a car. I’m in a serious relationship, and live with my SO.

But I just don’t feel like I’m done growing up yet. For one thing, I don’t really have any long-range plans, or really know what I want to do “when i grow up” (this job I have now isn’t exactly a career-path). I also am new to town, and don’t have a community of people who I know here and would consider my friends. Somehow, having an adult social life feels like part of being a grown-up, and I don’t have one yet.

I guess that in our culture, growing up is a process, and occurs as much in one person’s mind as anything else. I’d say that “being a grown-up” is how you define yourself, not how culture defines you.

tandra88's avatar

When you “develop”.

Adagio's avatar

Do we ever Grow Up completely? Is there such a thing as being fully Grown Up. I feel that I have certainly grown as in, matured during my nearly 50 years. But I like the idea that there will always be something childlike not childish about me right up to the end. I am far more inclined to believe this will be the case as opposed to me ever reaching a point that might be defined as Fully Grown .

ratboy's avatar

When you hate your life.

poofandmook's avatar

when you hate every song on the radio, watch movies and say “who TALKS like that?” only to find out all the kids do, and when you snarl at kids in public and wish they’d pull up their FUCKING PANTS.

scamp's avatar

Yeah, well if you tell them to pull down their pants, you are a dirty old man! ha ha ha!!!

FutureMemory's avatar

1. When I realized that if I didn’t find a full-time job I would be completely fucked.

2. When I realized some of the things my parents taught and instilled in me, things they still believe to be correct and “right”, are in fact very wrong. In other words the realization that they were human, and not some sort of amazing, infallible super-beings. Unfortunately I’m unable to think of any examples at the moment, but you get the gist.

3. When I started measuring time in decades (“I haven’t been to that restaurant in over a decade!”).

4. When the checker at Albertsons said “I bet you were like that at his age”. She was referring to a fellow co-worker that had to be at least 23–24ish (he was breaking his neck checking out a girl)... I’m only 36.

5. When younger friends of mine started having children.

whatthefluther's avatar

When younger people started calling me Mr. Whatthefluther or Sir.
See ya….Gary/wtf

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The first time was when the cat was sick in the living room of our new house, and I realized if I didn’t clean it up, no one else would.

holden's avatar

@PandoraBoxx lol, I’ve been cleaning up my cat’s “sick” since I was seven.

I still don’t feel like a grown-up, really. I’m pretty immature. I keep getting kicked out of the boarding schools my parents send me to because I fail most of my classes. I look like an adult so sometimes I can order drinks at bars without getting carded, but I’ve never even kissed a girl. I think I’ll always just be this sixteen-year-old kid.

janbb's avatar

@holden And I suppose your dream job is standing in a field catching little children as they run through it?

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m 42 years old and sometimes I still can’t tell. I’m a kid at heart and having too much fun to be ‘all grown up’ just yet.

holden's avatar

@janbb actually, you’re right…like a retriever. A retriever in the grain.

kellylet's avatar

When I was a kid I thought 30 was grown up. Now I am here and I am not so sure anymore. I agree with FutureMemory, when your “baby” cousins get married or when you see kids driving and your reaction is, “He can’t be old enough to drive. What is he 12?” This can occur when going out for the night & no else seems old enough 2 drink.
Well, I guess that’s really about being older, not grown up. As for grown up, any day now…

janbb's avatar

@holden doesn’t sound quite right.

Dog's avatar

I will let you know when I get there.

jamiellee's avatar

If you know how to control your temper and emotions..

tiffyandthewall's avatar

@poofandmook but i’m only 17 and i’m already doing that o:

Darwin's avatar

In my book someone is grown up when they are able to do the things they have to do even if they don’t want to, but can still find joy in simple stuff just like a child would.

pastel's avatar

When they are all grown up, they don’t act immature and always want things their way. Also, people who have grown up empathize and think about what others would feel rather than their own feelings.

Fred931's avatar

When you can afford to pay off the damages you caused when you flipped your dad’s minivan when you were 16.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin and @Dog stole my answers.

CMaz's avatar

When you are this big.

noraasnave's avatar

Being grown up generally means that a person is locked into a dead end job, doing work they hate, to pay off debt they have accrued due to the unhappiness of their life.

Being grown up seems to also mean that all of a persons choices are already made, there is a rigid thinking that somehow all the adult choices are made..all flexibility is lost.

I decided that I am not going to ‘grow up’. I face life with a childlike curiousity and flexibility. Years are really inadequate to measure maturity.

75movies's avatar

When the hair on your ass requires maintenance.

75movies's avatar

When you switch from scotch to sleep pills. No that’s not right. When you combine scotch and sleep pills. Now that’s adult.

75movies's avatar

When you watch porn and instead of masturbating you wonder how they were able to get into that position. And what the heck are they going to do with that thing!

Millenium_TheMysteriousM's avatar

When you have “suffered” and/or endured a “personal tragedy”!

Daisygirl's avatar

When you have a mortgage, 2.5 kids and a dead end job. That seems to be “when you’re all grown up”... doesn’t sound like fun to me, I want to be a toys r us kid forever lol :)

Fred931's avatar

@Daisygirl How many kids make up 2.5? Is one just a torso or something?

Utta_J's avatar

I think you can tell by the way that you may handle certain situations.

Daisygirl's avatar

@Fred931 I dunno, back in the early days, the “perfect family” had 2.5 kids, a boy a girl and one on the way…. Unfortunately, once the 3rd was born it wasn’t considered a perfect family lol.

Fred931's avatar

@Daisygirl Or maybe they could just not have the third child and walk around all their lives with that fake baby pack thing new mothers wear.

Daisygirl's avatar

lol @Fred931 that would be… perfect!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Growing up is, in my opinion a life-long process. There are certainly certain markers of maturity such as financial self-sufficiency, attaining a high level of moral development, and reaching the peak of your intellectual development. Without being a “Peter Pan” about it, I’d still like to reserve the right to roll around on the floor and be silly with my grandchildren, treat each day as a new adventure, and to love another person with no fences around me to keep me safe. The older I get, the less I value being grown up if it means slavishly going after what so many others consider the most important things to pursue in life. I value living up to my responsibilities to those I love and to whom I have willingly committed myself to care for. I value fulfilling the promises I make. I value my right to not promise things I have not intention of doing. I am grown up enough to find new goals to which to commit myself.

TheJoker's avatar

When you find yourself overworked, underappreciated, tired, broke, & miserable… you’ve grown up.

CaptainHarley's avatar

When you can laugh at yourself and yet see your own true worth, when you can look others in the eye and not feel the need to be superior, when you can easily display true compassion yet not be taken advantage of, when you can love honestly and completely and expect the same in return, when you can totally involve yourself in your work yet not forget how to play, when your life is in balance because you work to keep it that way, when you can make a decision based on the knowledge at hand, when you can stand alone against those with more power than you in defense of those with less power than you… then you are grown.

Cruiser's avatar

When you make mistakes and you are able to admit to them and pay for them then you are officially all grow’d up!

DarkScribe's avatar

You know because the ground is further away.

CaptainHarley's avatar


No, that’s when you fly. : )

anartist's avatar

You wish you could be young again

CaptainHarley's avatar

ME? ROFLMFAO!!! Nevah! I wouldn’t go through all that again if my LIFE depended on it!

anartist's avatar

@janbb it’s nice to see someone likes that book enough to quote it. It feels weird to hear kids bitch about it on English class reading lists.

When I used to get down as a kid I’d think to myself: “Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off.” and I couldn’t stop laughing


I need to shave, and I start wearing shiny black leather men’s dress shoes. Lol.

Austinlad's avatar

When you don’t think about it anymore. Or when you start wishing you were a kid again.

Joybird's avatar

There is a difference between physiological maturation, and maturational development within different cultures. The age markers for both of these keep changing. Physiological maturation used to be marked by first menstruation and that didn’t happen until much much later than it does now…between 14 – 16 yrs of age. Now it happens between ages 9 – 12 on average. Is a 9yr old a “mature” female? Not by a long shot.
And industrialization that once made for the illusion of early developmental maturation and independence has now resulted in a downturn of the economy and a return to multigenerational living with children now either returning to parent homes or never leaving their parents homes to begin with.
So what does it mean to be an adult now or as you put it “grown up”? It used to mean being able to pay all your own bills and overhead. If it is necessary to share resources does that mean you aren’t “grown up”?
I personally think we are going to see a return to extended family living with multiple generations and extended family living under one roof. In this situation I think “grown up” means making a viable contribution to the group that all agree upon as vital and of value. Sitting in front of a computer playing games while mom does your laundry and dad continues to pay all your bills and only mowing the lawn once a week is not enough of a contribution to categorize anyone as a “grown up”...nor is the ability to have sex or reproduce.
Someone else talked about rituals done that used to recognize markers met within one’s community. It is likely that we need to make a shift away from birthday’s, graduations and anniversaries and mark the contributions one makes in life instead. Perhaps these contributions should be marked by renaming ceremonies. The group names you…you don’t name yourself…unless of course the group agrees that the name you want is fitting to your contribution.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Other than learning from experience, I think I’m the same person I was when I was a kid. I look in the mirror and see my mother. When did that happen?

acs's avatar

I guess when you stop wondering if you are a grown up or not…

noraasnave's avatar

One concept that seems to found the concept of ‘growing up’ is that you realize that you don’t ever have to, but at that one point we weigh whether we want our relationships to move to the next level. For some it is a purely conscious decision, for others reality and age catch up to them.

For instance, moving from being a son or daughter, to being an adult son or daughter, moving from being a single, free spirit, to being a stable, reliable, soul-mate, and possibly a spouse. Moving from being capable of quitting a job, move wherever you want, following one’s slightest fancy to getting roots down in a community and blooming where you are planted.

silent4geeta's avatar

When we learn how to tie our shoes, brush our teeth and flush or hmmm i don’t think we ever grow up do we.

rOs's avatar

Some people never reach their full maturity. Paying your bills on time, raising a kid, and owning a car doesn’t mean you’re wise; it means you are responsible (or just well-trained). In my opinion, maturity is being in harmony with your environment; which at the least means being comfortable with who are and who others are.

noraasnave's avatar

Balance would seem to be a definitely trait which helps define maturity!

Ron_C's avatar

I’ll be 65 in a couple days and read the answer to find out when I will be “grown up”.

The best answer I saw @cyndyh said “One night the grown-up fairy visits your house and you wake up with muscles and strange smells and you suddenly understand escrow.”

I understand escrow but am still waiting for the muscles.

Pachy's avatar

When you voluntarily make doctor and dentist appointments! You see, being “grown up” isn’t necessarily a way of feeling or thinking about yourself—it’s how you deal with the responsibilities of your life.

Inspired_2write's avatar

When you no longer celebrate Birthdays and your age number means nothing.

DWW25921's avatar

I realized I was grown up one Christmas morning years ago. I received a new bundle of socks and a really nice sweater and I was just as pleased as can be! (You really can’t beat a new pair of socks.) If I were a kid I would have been horrified!

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I seriously have no idea.

Then again the women in my last three relationships (including my marriage) have been at least a decade older than me…

SecondHandStoke's avatar

It’s not how old you look.

It’s not how old you feel.

It’s how old others think you are.

toolatetothegame's avatar

When the Barista at Starbucks thinks you are your mother’s sister instead of her daughter.

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