“I Still Don’t Feel Like An Adult!”

The following thought has toddled across my mind many times these past few months: "I still don't feel like an adult!" As a third year student on the cusp of my 21st, this isn't a thought that makes me feel secure. I am putting so much pressure on myself to act a certain way, to be more mature, and to do things more independently, that I haven't even checked in with myself in my current state and whether or not I am truly 'ready' to grow up.



I have always felt that I am a mature and introspective person, but that that wasn't enough to 'qualify' me for adulthood when I came to university. I still did not have a drivers license, am living at home, and have social anxiety about walking through crowds and meeting people I don't know. But does that make me insufficient to be an adult? Is that all there is to being grown up?

I have since learned that there is a difference between growing up in the mental sense and growing up in the physical sense:

Physically, growing up means going through puberty, getting taller, and finally being big enough to be left home alone. If you are like me and had a delayed maturation process, you may feel inadequate or like an alien amongst your friends who are muscling up or buying new bras. Do not be disheartened, for all stars shine at different times in the night as the sun sets, but they all shine eventually. 

Mentally, growing up means a metamorphosis in mindset from childhood to adulthood. Whether that means reevaluating what you learned from your parents about the way the world works, or adopting a different spirituality or set of values, growing up internally is about the blossom from bud to bush.



Some friends my age are happily married.

Some are expecting a baby, or even their second.

Some have their own businesses.

Some are travelling the world, even studying overseas.

Some are working multiple jobs, and others have never earned their own money.

Some live on their own while some still live with their parents.

Some enjoy lavish dishes of mussles and Chardonnay while others (like myself) opt for a PB&J and a glass of milk.

Some of my friends have never been in relationships. Others have been going steady for years.

Some have graduated, and some are still not ready for university.

Some cannot drive, and others have cars of their own.

Some drink every weekend, while others (again, like myself) prefer cosy nights and cups of hot chocolate with cartoons.

And yet, we are all navigating the world, side by side, learning about who we are and how to be.



Growing up does not have a due date. There is no Vula page called OLD1005W which emails you for the rest of your life about tax return tutorials and 'Landlord Etiquette' PowerPoints. Everyone matures and becomes ready for adulthood at different phases of their lives. It is therefore not reasonable to put a deadline age on growing up, like 21 or 30.

Only you will know when you are ready to achieve the goals of adulthood, whatever those are to you, and whichever are achievable in your given context. Never allow anyone to make you feel less worthy or insignificant because you are not on their 'level' of adulthood. Don't compare it to climbing a staircase or running a race, desperately trying to cross the finish line. Why would you want to waste your youth like that?

Instead, treat growing up as a journey with no definitive path. No road signs or Google Maps telling you where to go or how far until your final destination. Just trust in the process of your growth, and growing up will come gracefully.