Just a few #posts ago, I had just graduated and moved two hours away from my university town for an almost-full-time job. I was commuting to an office every day, I had a gym membership, I adopted a dog. I was feeling very much like a grown-up, and I think I talked about using my disposable income (of approximately $8) to buy shampoo.
I don’t want to say I’ve regressed, necessarily, but ever since I started freelancing for a living, that illusion has more or less fallen away. The truth is, I still very much think of myself as a kid in some ways.
When you think about it, age really is just a number. What counts more as far as how old you FEEL is how many life points you’ve got. How many benchmarks you’ve achieved. Whatever you want to call it.
Until recently, my older brother was working part time and living with my dad. I’ll confess that even though he’s three years older than me, I secretly thought of him as my little brother at times, just because I had my own apartment, four-year degree and had payed off my car. Now, I’m happy to say, he’s got a full time job and a benefits package and again is my big brother in life points as well a in age.
The reverse is true with a friend who is three years younger than me, my sister’s age. She dropped out of high school and moved back to Scotland, where she married a boy and is now eight weeks away from having a child. I was chatting with her this morning and found myself talking to her as if she were older than me—the very same girl who used to run around complaining about homework and moms with my little sisters! She’s confusing to me because she’s skipped ahead like ten years, according to my subconscious age scale.
The point is, I’m only 22 years old, but I’m trying hard to grow up mentally. I don’t mean that I’m going to stop laughing when my dog farts, and I reserve the right to think babies are dumb. However, just because I don’t have a daily commute or a 401k yet doesn’t mean I’m any less of an adult than my friends who do. My taxes say I am “self-employed,” not “killing time while I look for a grown-up job.”
Maybe, once I get a big-girl purse and some grown-up clothes, sources won’t tell me I look like their daughters or nieces anymore. Maybe, if I think of my freelance work as a business that I own, I will start charging rates that are more fair to me instead of allowing myself to be taken advantage of like a college kid thirsty for experience. Maybe if I loosen up on the order of life points, or stop projecting them on other peoples’ lives, I won’t have a nervous breakdown when my boyfriend mentions he wants to buy a house.
So, I know I’m not the only one who has them. What are your adulthood benchmarks? Does the order they come in really matter?