When Did We Become Grown-Ups? // Embracing Our Adultness

can we ask you guys for a favor? we’ve recently launched a facebook page and would love for you to like us over there: facebook.com/ournextlife. so far we have all of two likes, and would love to boost that up a smidge! :-) if you’re feeling the social media love, you can also follow us on twitter, and follow us on instagram. as you may have also noticed, we’ve revamped our site, which we’re pretty stoked about. it’s very much a diy effort, but we finally took the time to make ourselves a proper logo, instead the free canva one we had before, and spent a lot more time choosing a template (we considered paying for one, but were 90 percent happy with wordpress’s gazette theme, so decided to save our money, at least for now). but since it’s a diy effort, we know there are things we could still improve, and we’d love your feedback! please share any thoughts you have in the comments. now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

let’s start today with a question: do you feel like a grown-up?

if you’d asked us that question a year ago, we would have said no. in fact, it was a guiding a principle of our lives that most people never grow up, they just learn to fake it. this realization was enormously comforting to us, as it meant we had less to prove at work especially, since we figured out that most of our seniors and managers were just making it up as they went along. but this feeling of not being grown-ups persisted even through multiple home purchases, sizeable net worth accumulation, and many career promotions, including the ones that gave us our current highfalutin titles. really, we just felt like kids with assets.

but recently, we realized that something has changed. we can’t put our fingers on exactly when it happened, but somehow, we started to feel like grown-ups.

this is not a sad feeling – we don’t feel as though we’ve lost our youth or anything – nor one of resignation. if anything, it’s kind of a relief. “ohhhhhhh, so people really do grow up!” it’s like the other shoe has dropped, and we didn’t know that we were actually waiting for that all along. well the waiting is now over, and we’re fully embracing our lives as self-acknowledged grown-ups.

here’s what this does not mean: it does not mean giving up our spirit of youthful curiosity. it does not mean avoiding all youthful indiscretion. it does not mean that we are fully formed humans, and are done changing and growing. it does not mean we have all the answers. and, we sure hope it doesn’t mean we’re set in our ways. it also doesn’t mean that we see others who don’t identify as grown-ups as any less adult. (after all, it took us til age 35+ to get here!)

but it does mean lots of wonderful things: that we accept ourselves for who we are. that we know what we’re doing in our lives and finances, and we’re not embarrassed to admit it. that we know what’s truly important to us, and don’t need to waste time on everything else. that we’ve let go of our youthful egos and pride, and we can now admit when we don’t know something, and stop trying to pretend to be cool. (let’s be honest – we were never cool.) ;-) it means we can embrace that squareness and not let it hold us back from enjoying activities with the cool kids, like dancing at music festivals, even if we’ll never be like them.

as for when it happened, it’s hard to say. we’ve had some big things happen in the last year-plus, including losing some close family members, losing two beloved dogs, helping both sets of parents make very challenging, downsizing moves, and taking on a lot more responsibility at work. but it doesn’t feel like becoming grown-ups grew out of loss or hardship — that being grown-ups means we’re damaged or beaten down in some way — though maybe we’re wrong about that. in any case, it’s not something we’re mourning.

of course, in reality, this doesn’t change anything. we still do the same things, embrace the same spirit of adventure, and look forward to an early retirement full of play and fun. we’ll still laugh at farts, and make up ridiculous nicknames for our dogs. the difference is merely in how we approach challenges. (and, okay, we might also scoff now if anyone calls us “young people.”) we’d love to stay young forever, but we also love this stage in our lives, and think the best is yet to come.

so how about you? do you feel like a grown-up? what do you think helped make the transition? (we suspect having kids does it for a lot of people, though we don’t know because we don’t have them.) or if you don’t feel like a grown-up, do you think you ever will?

Don't miss a thing! Sign up for the eNewsletter.

Subscribe to get extra content 3 or 4 times a year, with tons of behind-the-scenes info that never appears on the blog.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe any time. Powered by ConvertKit

50 replies »

  1. There is no reason to feel like a “grown up” guys. Most of the happiest (and healthiest) elderly people I know are still active, curious, and full of life. I hope to never lose those characteristics!

    Have a great week

    • We certainly didn’t set out to be grown-ups, and have never been eager to identify as a couple of ’em. But now that we somehow arrived here, we’re focused on straddling that line… grown-ups with one foot, kids with the other! :-)

  2. First of all, the new site and logo both look fantastic! Kudos on an awesome DIY job!

    And secondly I couldn’t understand more the “feeling like a grown up” thing, although I’d say I’m still in the “Nah… no one really feels grown up yet” phase. It’s actually really reassuring to know that someday, I’ll feel like I’m adulting properly (but can still have a ton of fun with it!)

    Lastly I’m really sorry for the losses you’ve had in the past year – sending totally belated hugs and well wishes.

    • Thanks for the blog notes! And for the well wishes. :-) Yes, it seems that you may feel like a true grown-up one day… or maybe not! We can’t say for sure how or why it happened, and we still feel like kids in other ways, too. So who really knows!

  3. First and foremost, Facebook page liked. If I could like it 10 times, I would, but alas, Facebook provides not that capability. :)

    Regarding the feeling of being a grown up, I certainly, positively do not feel like a grown up. In fact, I feel (and very often act) like a freaking 5-year old a lot of the time (just ask my wife). The stupid jokes, the rolling around on the floor with the dogs, the whining hissy-fits when I don’t get my way, it’s all still there for me. The only thing that’s changed between my childhood and now is the responsibility that I have taken to provide for my own way in life.

    Basically, make my own living. Provide for myself. Earn a wage. Decide where to spend my money.

    But short of that, fundamentally nothing has changed. I’m still very much the same kind of person I was as a kid. I think part of this is due to my refusal to take life all that seriously. I rarely get upset at things that I cannot control. I have a very “whatever” attitude towards MOST things in life, which keeps my stress level generally super low. I am a go-with-the-flow kind of person and always really have been.

    And I’ve discovered something very profound as I’ve meandered my way through life: the best way to feel like you’re 5 is to act like one.

    And so I do! :)

    • Thanks for the FB like, Steve! Haha — I was trying to picture you throwing a hissy fit. :-) But we completely agree — we have never tried to act like or feel like grown-ups, and part of our reason for wanting to retire early is to stop working before we lose our youthful spark. Basically, we’ll be independently funded kids forever, which is living the dream. The shift now, in feeling like grown-ups, feels more like an attitude shift, in that we no longer feel like we need to impress or please anyone but ourselves. We have no apologies for our lives or lifestyle, and generally feel like we have things figured out. We’d argue we can be grown-ups and overgrown kids forever…. even if we’re no longer young people. :-)

  4. Your layout and banner look great! Congratulations on taking your site to the next level!

    I wake up every day and wonder when on earth I became an “adult.” It doesn’t help that strangers
    think that I am about ten years younger than I actually am.

    • Thank you! And we can definitely relate to looking younger than we are — but we’re embracing that, especially since we soon won’t care whether we look suitably senior or credible at work. I’m sure you’ll look back and be glad you kept your youthful glow for so long!

  5. I am incredibly impressed with your new logo, blog & layout – way to DIY as well! The format is very pleasing to the eyes. I dig the white space, allows me to focus on the words more. :)

    Isn’t that amazing how the “adult phase” becomes almost a seamless transition? I think experiencing challenges that allow you to grow mentally & emotionally surely account for feeling like an adult.

    At 25, most would say you’re nowhere near being an adult (which yes, I do concur for most things)! At the same time, experiencing the loss of my father at 19 accelerated that leap into adulthood before I could have ever anticipated. Experiencing grief in college is something I hope to goodness no one ever has to go through…

    I still feel my outwardly, physical actions (and curiosity, as well!) remain true to my youth even if inside I sometimes feel like an old soul. I still will dance in the rain, ride every thrill & roller coaster ride I can, enjoy Disney movies in my 20’s, and play pretend with my niece and cousins. I think having the ability to transition between embracing youth, then making decisions as an adult creates that amazing balance. I think some of the major transitions into adulthood occur when people are put into positions where they need to actively make decisions. It could happen independently – or with others, but decisions that come out of a place of confidence & not fear. I feel like a grown-up, but I also enjoy the heck out of embracing a growth mindset so I know there is a lot more to learn between taking the official title! :)

    • Thanks for the great blog feedback! :-) So sorry you lost your dad at such a young age, and while in college — that must have been so tough. It makes total sense that that would force you to grow up quickly!

  6. I don’t feel like an adult, except when it comes to my kids. It catches you off guard. The thought suddenly occurs that this person depends on you for everything, from food and shelter to affection, and as an example of who they should grow up to be. At work, I still find myself in disbelief when trusted with important tasks. At home, I try to be a good playmate. But every so often, I notice one of them intently observing my actions and it makes me very self-conscious. It feels like such a weighty responsibility to model good actions and characteristics for them.

    • That is a responsibility that we have never experienced (other than as an aunt and uncle, which is not the same!), though it makes total sense that having that responsibility toward children would change how you see yourself! Thanks for sharing!

  7. First off, excellent work on getting on Facebook. We’re “on facebook” but I am terrible at it. And, as you know, I LOVE the new logo and blog theme.

    For me, I started feeling like an adult as soon as I had kids that could converse with me. Babies require care, but I was still going to graduate school, working, and we took her to Cambodia! When she got old enough to have her own opinions that I had to navigate, I realized “I’m the adult here. Someone has to be the responsible one.” Now I find myself having loads of conversations like “yes, it would be really fun to do that, but here are the reasons why you probably shouldn’t.” I try to say “yes” as often as possible, but I’m the mom, and I’m the one that has to tell them “no” when they want to stick their feet in the garbage disposal. It doesn’t get more adult. :)

    • That makes total sense. We’ve always assumed, because we don’t have kids, that we were somehow missing out on the great grown-up maker. Turns out we were wrong, and we did get there, just on a different timeline!

  8. I’ve made a quite drastic change since I moved to NYC 18 months ago. I’ve gone from more of a “guy who still parties and spends like he’s in college” to an “old man” :) But something clicked when I moved to NYC. I think it was a combination of how many people I met here that always complained about how broke they were because of how expensive it was to go out here all the time and stumbling onto the FI/RE blogosphere. But now I max out all my tax-advantaged accounts, plan my retirement on a daily basis, and would rather stay in and do blog things than go out boozing downtown. Oh the times have changed and yes – I’m a grown-up.

    • It’s super interesting to us what makes people feel like grown-ups. For you, it seems like it was toning down the partying and getting finances in order. For us, even making that shift didn’t do it, and we still needed a few more years to embrace our new identity. So maybe we were stunted in our grown-upness. :-)

  9. We thought that having a child made us grow up since getting our act together with finances, insurance, etc. Then we started playing “American Ninja Warrior” on the playground equipment while our daughter was doing her thing. On back to back playground sessions I almost broke my arm then we were oblivious and kept playing while the rest of the families evacuated because a BEAR walked right by (and we were so involved in our “warrior” challenge that we never even noticed.) Guess we’ve got some “growing up” to do yet!

    I think that the site looks great. I would love to help you get your Facebook following up to repay you guys for all you’ve done for us with our Twitter, but we still haven’t ever even mad a Facebook page and are fairly certain that when we finally get on there it will officially mark the end of it being cool. Sorry!

    • OMG — If that story had happened to us, I would just be sad that I’d missed the bear! We have a neighborhood bear that has wreaked much havoc in our garage and compost, and we’ve NEVER SEEN HIM!! (or her, to be fair) :-)

      Thanks for the FB offer. :-) And no worries! Eager for your September update whenever you can share it. Hope you guys are doing well!

  10. Liked on Facebook! :)

    I suppose I feel most grown up when I realize I no longer need external validation about my decisions. Sure, I’ll take a compliment. But I don’t make my decisions to please other people. Great post!

    • Thanks for the FB like! :-) Great point — I do think no longer needing external validation is a hallmark of being grown-up, and is a fairly new thing for us.

  11. I so do NOT feel like an adult… LOL! Every once in a while, when I have a couple days where I keep on top of things around my house and at work, I think “hey, maybe I’ve got this being an adult thing figured out!” And then things come tumbling back down and I realize that was just a fluke.

    • Haha — we definitely feel you on that! :-) I don’t think being a grown-up means having everything under control at all times…. because if it does, we’ll never be grown-ups!

  12. I often feel like I am not grown up at all! I have to remind myself that I’m heading into my mid-thirties. Though, admittedly, nowadays I’m pretty responsible and all of that stuff, but still, it feels like I was in college just yesterday. Nice redesign on the site.

    • Thanks for the site note! We mostly feel the same way, and felt exactly the same way until just this year. And even as now self-proclaimed grown-ups, we’re still basically kids. :-)

  13. I definitely seem to feel more like an adult lately and it’s bumming me out. I think between the more difficult commute, kids being cranky (or just being kids as Mrs. SSC points out) and just dealing with the day to day stuff of life, I think adult-ness is trying to grab hold of me! Gah!!!!!

    That being said, I think your first paragraph sums it up perfectly for me. I still see everyone around me as people just trying to figure it out. Like when our new CEO got announced, our old one said she was super excited for a second and then looked like a dog that finally caught a car. A “Yeah, I made it!” followed by “Oh Sh!t, I made it…Now what?” Hahaha It affirmed my belief that most people in general are still trying to figure it out, the ones that get moved ahead have also figured out confidence and they back it up with good work. I remind myself that a LOT at everything. Having kids helps keep the wonder and excitement alive in life because they say and do some of the craziest most oddball stuff that just cracks me up.

    As far as facebook, I could like you as my Clark Kent personality, but we haven’t gone there yet with SSC. Our foray into the Twitter-verse has been challenging enough to try and be active with and all that. Good luck though!

    • We’re convinced it’s true — no one REALLY knows what they’re doing, but some people are definitely more confident in their ignorance than others. Sorry you’re in a bit of a beaten down mode at the moment — I hope you guys get some certainty soon, and can leave the limbo state you’ve been in for a while — that for sure can’t help things. And no worries on Facebook. We’re up way past 2 likes now (like 12!), so we feel much better. :-)

  14. Definitely feeling like a grown up right now now having a 5 month old daughter at home. Even though it is an amazing experience, the amount it drains on you leaves little time for those moments of childhood curiosity. I know it will be coming back thought once she gets a little bit older and I get a little sleep. Then it will be a whole new world and I can kick being a grown up to the curb :)

    • It definitely seems to us like kids are the thing that make most people grow up. Reading others’ comments, it sure seems that you’ll get that curiosity and magic back as your daughter gets a little older — and you catch up on sleep. :-)

  15. At first I felt very grown up to move out of my parents’ house to an apartment in the same city. But it wasn’t until I moved continents that I realized how much I still relied on them when I lived near them. Not just for functional stuff (i.e. raiding their fridge!), but also emotionally. When I moved really far away, I couldn’t rely on them in the same way any more. And it shocked my system! But I’m really cherishing this time and the adult relationship I have with my parents now. I’m a late bloomer so it’s about time. :P

    Another big grown up feeling was when I got married. I was always making long term plans for myself by myself. Then I had to figure it out with someone else who is very different from me. Navigating this has really made me and the hubs grow up.

    Love the new look!!!

    • It took us seven years post marriage to feel like grown-ups, so I would not say you’re a late bloomer! :-) But how great that you’ve found a strong adult relationship with your parents.

      Thanks for the note on the new blog look!

  16. I don’t know that I’ll ever really feel like a grown up. Maybe when I have kids? I graduated from college, got a job, bought a condo, own a car, graduated from grad school, live with my boyfriend, on and on, all the things that “adults” do. On paper I’m an adult, and I feel comfortable making my own life choices, but somehow being an adult just makes it sound like you’ve got things figured out, and I so don’t have things figured out!

    • Definitely noticing a theme here. :-) Not many of us feel like grown-ups, and even for us in our mid/late 30s, it’s a super new feeling. And we definitely don’t have “things” figured out, but we have a *few* things figured out. :-)

  17. Hah! Great post. I’m in that stage of, “will we ever feel grown up??” I thought moving in together would seal the deal, but really it’s just made me realize that we’re two silly kids “faking it.” I love feeling naive … it reminds me that I have so much to look learn and look forward to!

    • No reason to ever leave that stage. :-) We were in it for a loooong time, and would have been happy staying there! But there’s always ton to learn and look forward to.

  18. I feel like when you’re a grown-up, you’re supposed to have all the answers and are supposed to be the authority on everything. I think it’s great to have that notion of not being a grown up, because then there is always room to grow.

    • We feel like grown-ups and definitely do NOT have all the answers. :-) But we have enough answers, and also don’t feel that we owe them to anyone! And there’s always room to grow — all that requires is being open to growth!

  19. First off, the new site looks great and I hooked you up with a good, ol’ FB “Like.”

    I always say that marriage doesn’t change things, but having kids changes everything. I think I realize that grown-up-itis snuck up on me anytime I take a minute to sit back and just watch my 5-year old daughter playing or learning. That can really help wake you up to know you’re what helped make and mold this child.

    Also, you guys are a fair amount younger than I am, but the stuff they say about waking up one day and having unexplainable odd pains or strains is true. That’s something to look forward to (please note sarcasm). It’s also another reason why I’m looking forward to early retirement… to get some more exercise. I just haven’t been able to make a ton of time for this (work gets in the way of everything!!).

    I will say though that my wife and I can still hold our own though. We can still party it up like we used to… except the hangover sucks worse now and the bounce-back takes much longer!!

    All in all though, I think we feel more in control of our lives now than we ever have and I look forward to the future more now that we’re on a solid path to early retirement.

    — Jim

    • Thanks for the FB like, and the note about the new site! And, sheesh, we know plenty about those odd pains. Makes us feel older than we are! Part of it is undoubtedly from all the work travel and job stress, and we hope some of it goes away when we quit our jobs. Good for you guys for being able to party like in the past — I fall asleep after about half a glass of wine. Ha! :-)

  20. I’m in my 60’s and I still feel about 14 most of the time and expect someone else to be the adult in the room. Certainly I can adult well. I manage my finances. I got married, divorced, then married again. My children are grown. I’ve lost my parents and other loved ones. I deal with crises as they arise. I have lots of professional and personal experience to share. But I’m not sure I’ll ever acquire that feeling of being a grown-up and having that set of grown-up knowledge I thought I’d receive, and that’s ok. We’re all still learning and growing all the time.

    • Love knowing that we can keep feeling like kids forever. :-) I think for us, the feeling of being grown-ups is mostly about not having anything to prove anymore. We don’t need any external validation, and feel like we know what we’re doing for most things, even if we don’t have all the answers. So that’s our definition of being “grown-ups,” even if we still feel like kids most of the time. :-)

  21. I still don’t quite feel like an adult, but this post definitely has me thinking. I’m not sure where the turning point is/was, and it’s hard to pinpoint. The point you make, which I love, is that we never stop growing. I think there is a point in which we become “adults” but that doesn’t mean we don’t stop growing and changing. Very inspirational and thought-provoking piece guys! Thanks!

    • Thanks, Chris! I think that realization was a big one for us: That we can feel like grown-ups (which we didn’t think we ever would), but still be very open to growing and changing. When we stop growing and changing, it’s time to move on to the *next* next life. ;-)

  22. I hope it’s not too late to join the discussion…

    It feels good to acknowledge that you’ve grown-up, doesn’t it? I think most of us go through a phase when we refuse to cross the bridge to adulthood because it’s scary. It feels like once you get there, it’s hard to go back to being a kid. But of course, we know now that’s not the case. I adulted real hard when I migrated here. I guess the transition was a bit easier because I had no choice but to take care of myself, figure things out and make things work with little help from others. I was forced to grow up but I’m glad I was. I honestly don’t know if I’d be half the person I am now if I didn’t make that move. And yeah, I do like the person I turned into…liking and accepting yourself is part of adulthood, too, right? :)

    “…and we can now admit when we don’t know something, and stop trying to pretend to be cool?and we can now admit when we don’t know something, and stop trying to pretend to be cool.” –> Yes to this! I felt exactly the same way when I finally admitted to myself that I grew up. It was so liberating once I realised that I don’t have to like or do the same things as others and that I can set my own priorities.

    Great post, as always! Love your new layout!

    • It’s never too late! :-) I’m so glad that you like who you are as a grown-up, and don’t feel you have to do what others do or share their priorities. Couldn’t agree with you more that it feels GOOD to be a grown-up. :-) Hope you’re doing well!

  23. I still feel very young although I’m 30. I’ve been living the college life forever to cut costs and pay down debt. I feel like being my own boss has really woken me up. “Wow I AM an adult!,” I think to myself.

    • What’s funny is that we don’t think these things are mutually exclusive. We feel like grown-ups AND we feel like kids. :-) So enjoy that feeling! No need to feel only like an adult!

  24. DO I feel like a grown up…? good questions

    A part of your own statement is spot on. I do feel grown up now that I have children. it feels like the playtime is over. Any decision I take does not only affect how much I eat and what clothes I wear, but above all, it affects my children… That made me grow up.

    On the other hand, the children also keep me young: I can play again in placards and go down slides and nobody, including myself finds this weird. I discover the world again, from the perspective of a child.

    I also try to keep myself young by learning new skills and doing regularly new things.

    • I love how you put it: kids make you grow up and keep you young. :-) It’s not something we’ll experience directly, only through nieces and nephews and friends’ kids, but it makes sense!