Advice & Resources, My Journey

What It Means to Be an Adult…

What does “grown-up” or “adulthood” mean to you? Is it having a job? Car? Relationship? Your own place? Turning twenty, thirty, forty? Or is it something entirely different that depends on the individual.

To me, it still seems like this illusive experience that I seek to understand with each passing year I wonder if this will be the one I truly feel like an adult inside and out, or like other years will it remain like the items in a store that are placed on the top shelf out of reach for the time being until perhaps the next year? As I continue to reach for the moment that it will be clear and the “Welcome to Adulthood” sign will be rolled out with t-shirts, a support group (because this a tough stage to figure out) and punch that’s flavoured with a hint of responsibility, less fun, more care and questions that can’t be answered, I realize that in some ways I may already be there and in others I am still growing into one.

A part of this is that being Autistic, emotionally I have matured at my own pace, and so the experiences that come with said “adulthood” such as starting work, paying rent and other responsibilities have come at a later age. I still seek the advice of my parents when it comes to “grown-up” experiences, have been slow to become independent and often when I tell people my actual age they never quite believe me, as if there is no way I could be that age and be working. More than that, I believe it’s my light-heartedness, curiosity, the way I still get excited about holidays, sense of humour and being silly, because you got to be able to laugh to stay young that keeps me from truly feeling any older. Beyond the sense of humour, light-heartedness and other wonderful youthful qualities there’s also the me that’s desperate to become her own, carve her own place in the world, make her own choices and be confident in them. The one that works to understand the world so that one day she might have a chance at navigating it on her own, grow in totally new directions, and become fully independent. This me appreciates that having a part-time job is a good start and deep down knows to be a good adult one must continually work to become independent.

So I think “if I can master this will I feel like more of an adult?” or perhaps just be more independent than before. It’s hard to tell. I then wonder if it’s not so much a place, as a state of mind that once in our twenties, as we navigate this second decade in our lives, that the wisdom, self-knowledge and experiences we gain through this time has the power to shape us into the adults we wish to become, the individuals that one day will be out there facing the world on our own and until then must realize that each year prepares us for the next, and the one after that and so on and so forth to spread our wings and continue to explore the world on our own.

To this I say “Keep reaching and growing friends”, but most importantly “Stay You-nique”