At What Point Did You Consider Yourself An Adult

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RSteve

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Yesterday, I had a heart to heart talk with a family friend's soon to be 17-year-old daughter. The girl went through puberty quite early and became very curvaceous. Although extremely bright and an excellent student, her maturity (and street smarts) don't match her physical presence. She's been getting a lot of unwanted comments from other teens. Her way of stemming the comments was to alter her body by quitting eating and has been diagnosed with anorexia. Ordinarily, in the fall, she'd be a H.S. junior, but she's taking advantage of MN's Post Secondary Options program and will become a full time college student at the U of MN. Hopefully, she'll look like thousands of other co-eds and the comments will be history.

With continued therapy and away from the high school environment, I think she'll be fine. We talked about being an adult and learning to shut out the unwanted noise. I related some of the comments and hate mail that I received during my years in radio. At first, those comments made me question my competence and whether I should look for another vocation. But, as time passed, I realized that if there were no comments, no one was listening.

Although the girl isn't a relative, she has always called me grandpa. She asked, "Grandpa, when did you start thinking of yourself as an adult?" I thought for a moment and gave her the easiest answer, but not the real one. "When I was nineteen and my father died. Both of my parents had passed and I was forced to be an adult."

In reality, I began to think of myself as an adult the summer after my mother's death. She'd died the previous December and I'd been farmed out to one relative after another. I'd turned 10-years-old. My father had taken a job that kept him on the road for several weeks at a time. I was angry that my father had bailed on my brother and me. After an incident at a relative's home where I'd been placed, I told my father's sister that I'd made arrangements to stay with the family of one of my mother's friends; no more relatives that didn't really want me there. My father got the message and came home.

That summer I wanted to play Little League baseball. I had good skills, but there was no Little League Organization in the neighborhood where we lived. My father took me to Little League tryouts in a neighborhood where he had a sister. He'd filled out all the paperwork with our residential address. After a couple of days of skills tests, when my father came to pick me up from the ball field, he was approached by one of the league officials. I was standing next to my father. The official said, "Your son, for his age, is a very skilled ballplayer, but you live out of our district, so I have to disqualify him from our league."
My father began a monologue on how my mother had died a few months earlier and couldn't he just put his sister's address on the application. I remember as though it were today when I yelled, "Stop. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me." I told my father to go home, that I was going to walk. That was the point when, in my mind, I became an adult.

How about you?
 

Niblick

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I like to think that I became an adult a couple of times in my life. The summer between my fresh. and soph. year in high school I got the opportunity to work for a construction co. at a local steel mill for the rest of my time in high school. I was 15 at the time and had to falsify my age by two months with my parents approval. It gave me the ability to pay for school clothes, save for a vehicle and college. I worked many hours for that company doing very hard manual work. After graduating I again falsified my age to work for the mill part time for the summers and a month during the Christmas breaks while going to college.

The other time I became an adult is when I turned 21. I say this because when I was 15 years old sometimes I could not believe how dumb my parents were. When I turned 21 I was gobsmacked how smart they become in 6 years. Tell your friend to hang in there Steve.
 

Blackhorse

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Being an adult has nothing to do age, size, assets, etc. I equate becoming an adult in our culture with a number of facets of our lives including “taking responsibility” in general…one’s actions, your future and path through life, being a friend and what that entails, behavior toward a girlfriend, one’s financial health, how you behave while driving, accepting your responsibility as a citizen, voting, etc., etc., etc.

Given the above, for me being an adult came incrementally. Though my family was “well off” I worked at one official job or another starting pretty much in high school. My father passed during my junior year in high school. I was not the best student by any means but did my part to keep moving forward and made it through university “on time”. All those were pieces of the whole but the real step was going completely against the social scene for youths of the time and enlisting in the military. Yes, the draft was there, breathing down my neck but it was a lottery then and my number was fairly high so I wasn't trying to avoid the draft, it was more like paying for my citizenship. It was something my father (an Army doctor during WWII) had drilled into me. So for me the day I was sworn in as “Regular Army” was the day I truly became an adult.
 

Ranger107

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I matured quite early. Started working jobs as soon as I turned 16 earning money for clothes, car, etc. I became an enlightened adult during my first tour in Nam at the age of 19. From the time I left home after HS I considered myself an adult making my own decisions about my life and my own choices. Was never really influenced by my "peers"
 

Zeno Marx

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Not to bring this down a notch...but this will bring it down a notch...I remember having an existential moment when I bought a garden hose. Had just moved to a new place, but it wasn't anywhere near my first place, and we needed a garden hose to wash the car. I remember being in the hardware store, thinking, "I can't believe I'm buying a garden hose." I honestly can't tell you why this affected me so much, but it did. It nagged at me for months too, and I obviously still think about it. I'd lived all over the country, paid for my own school, bought cars, repaired cars, signed leases, kissed the man's ass, and done all the things people do. But that damn hose. I believe they call that "adulting" these days. It doesn't help that I absolutely, unequivocally hate outdoor house work, in which a garden hose is a common tool, so that was definitely part of it. I don't know if I became an adult at that moment, but I know in that moment that I very much felt like an adult and didn't like it one bit.
 

BriarPipeNYC

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To be honest....I don't know. Interesting question, though.

I think I'm an "adult" when it comes only to certain and very specific aspects of my life. Paying bills, and not spending myself into debt, being civil and tolerant to neighbors, trying to avoid the Cardinal Sins, etc.....but in some other areas, I just never quite grew up. It still puzzles me even to this day.

Show me a good pie-throwing scene with the Three Stooges, and I need to reach for Depends. I secretly wish I was there with them, throwing pies in some old bag's face. Fake snakes, jump-scares, fart spray, prank videos, any really funny comics...turn me back into a 13 year old school boy. Turn me loose at a good garage/yard sale, especially when I can buy someone's useless junk, and, BAM!...I'm 17 years old again. Ditto: dirty jokes, ethnic, or slap-stick humor....and I regress right back to my pre-teens.

I just could never take Life too seriously. Why? Because 95% of everything..... is Bull-&%$# ! I'll prove it. Take a look around at the "adults" that we have today as "role-models". Case closed.

So, what's the real answer?
 

GCook

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“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” C. S. Lewis​

 

Blackhorse

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Love the C.S. Lewis quote. It made me wonder if one of the signs of being an adult was having a real desire to shuck the responsibilities of adulthood and return to the carefree life of a kid.
 

Ranger107

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I think most of us at times would like to chuck the responsibilities of adulthood. Unfortunately that is not always possible. We all should pay our bills, obey the law, and perform our civic duties. That does not mean we cannot enjoy some of the frivolities of our youth. Playing on a slip and slide with our kids, building a tree house, riding a bike, or running through the lawn sprinklers. Life is a balance and it is up to us to make our own choices about where that line is drawn.
 

GCook

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I suppose I became an adult when I moved out of my parent's house at 18 and had to support myself. That said, I never bought into the "responsibility" of having kids, having observed my parent's happiness or lack thereof of having them. Many consider me not fully adult because of that. I fart in their general direction. I am, however, a step-grandpa now (10 of them, now 4-12 years old) which I enjoy immensely, even when I have to discipline the errant. I'm told I'm not like their other grandpas which I take as the ultimate compliment. They give me license to have fun at their levels, body-willing (I'm 66).
 
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RSteve

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By circumstance and necessity, I was forced to skip childhood, because my father was more child than adult. I had my first paper route at age ten and never stopped working until I retired in 2000. At 16, with my father unemployed for many months, I basically began supporting the family. I worked 33 hours a week, after school and on Saturday, selling shoes on commission at the only Sears store in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I considered it a successful month if after paying the mortgage and other family expenses I had enough left to save for college. I worked hard and often earned $100 to $150 a week in commissions. My older brother had already left home and felt no responsibility for family support.
Value of $100 from 1960 to 2021
$100 in 1960 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $920.30 today.The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.71% per year between 1960 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 822.31%.
 
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