Your driver’s license might make you feel mature…but are you really?
Many signatures of adulthood or growing-up include consumption, like buying a house, a new car, or a fancy lawnmower. It’s a way of displaying to the world and ourselves, “Hey, looky look – I’ve made enough good choices and worked hard enough to be able to afford this thing. I must be an adult now, right? Right?!?”
Other markers of adulthood we’ve seen in the generations before us and in popular culture are getting a safe, corporate job and having kids. Because if you can hold down a job and take care of another being, then you must definitely be a grown-up.
We must consider that these markers are outside of ourselves and don’t necessarily have to do with maturity or growth. Many of these symbols are no longer what people value in today’s world. More than ever, we are creating lives around what matters to us as individuals, not societal pressures.
(This could still include the white picket fence and 1.5 kids, by the way. You do you!)
But without the traditional mould, how can we be sure we’re not stagnating? What milestones or markers can we celebrate? As happiness expert and author Gretchen Rubin recently said on the Yoga Girl: Conversations from the Heart podcast, “part of self-love is having aims for yourself and wanting to grow, and wanting to push yourself out of your comfort zone.”
So let’s turn our reflection inward, using these self-development focused prompts.
1. You Plan for Your Future
You’ve thought a lot about what you want out of life. You may not have a set-in-stone 5-year plan (even the thought of a five-year plan makes some of the more adults of adults shudder), but you’ve put thought into where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. That could be saving up $10K to sail around the world or how to retire early. You care about your future self and want to make sure their needs will be met.
2. You Invest in Yourself
You care about your personal evolution and invest in yourself, whether that’s through continued education, new hobbies or personal development courses (or books). Instead of blowing your money on seasonal fast fashion or buying strangers shots at the bar, you’re putting money, time and energy back into yourself so you can get to where you want to be. You know you’re worth it.
3. You are Healing Past Trauma
If you have experienced trauma, you are working on healing from it and letting go of any resulting behaviours that are no longer serving you. You take responsibility for yourself and your actions. You’ve taken steps to get the right help and tools to move forward. You know it won’t be easy, but your health and quality of life and relationships are worth it.
4. You Are Emotionally Intelligent
You practice mindfulness and can observe your emotions rather than act from them… most of the time (this is tough to master!). You know that your perception is clouded by your own life experience and are open to other’s perspectives. You can have tough and uncomfortable conversations in a calm and respectful manner. You don’t avoid problems but would instead work to a resolution. You don’t rush to blame others.
5. You Practice Self-care
You take the time to look after yourself. Maybe that’s a weekly Sunday night bath-ritual, getting out of a toxic relationship or going to the GP for a check-up. You recognize signs of getting overtired, upset, burned out and parent yourself accordingly. You spend the time and what resources you can on maintaining (or improving) your physical and mental health.
6. You Think of Others
You can think outside of yourself and consider others. This doesn’t mean being 100% selfless or a people pleaser. Still, instead, you are mindful of how your actions will affect your friends, family, co-workers, etc. You’ve broken the habit of being “the late one” because you respect people’s time, and you are grateful they’ve carved out some for you.
7. You Can Nurture Something
You can nurture something, whether that’s a pet or a plant. You find reward in caring for more than your own needs. Maybe you clean up a local beach, volunteer as a mentor or sign up for a plot in a community garden. Nurturing helps us create the communities we want to live in.
8. You Know When to Ask For Help
You know you can’t do it all alone, and there’s no badge of honour for living on a desert island (unless you have a volleyball named Wilson). You don’t let your pride or stubborn nature get in the way of asking for help through a rough patch or difficult situation. You know it’s not weak to need others and that being vulnerable takes guts, maturity, and wisdom. Beautiful.
9. You are at Home in Yourself
You practice self-love and have come to appreciate that there is no one on the planet quite like you. You feel gratitude for your body, health and all they allow you to do. You don’t feel the need to alter your personality to fit in and have accepted you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You feel grounded in who you are.
How did those resonate with you? Maybe you feel like you’ve nailed a few but are just beginning to dip your toes in the others. We all have our own rate of personal growth and opportunities to learn or develop come to us at different stages of life.
Evolving looks different for everyone, and so does adulting. As with most things in life, it starts from within and becomes a lifelong, hopefully, enjoyable journey.