Am I doin’ it wrong?

Following on from my previous post about taking a bite out of everything, sometimes I wonder if I’m doing Adult wrong.

Get your minds out of the gutter. Sheesh, you lot, can’t take you anywhere.

What I mean is, do all adults just pretend to be grown ups, or am I doing something wrong? You see, I’m in my mid-thirties, I don’t have kids, I don’t own property and I don’t have a full time grown up job. (The latter, of course, is the result of going back to uni full time to do my doctorate, but you get the idea.)

I don’t feel like a grown up. And, going on the reaction when people find out my age, I’m pretty sure I don’t look and act like one. (Might have something to do with my love of plastic accessories and my sense of humour.)

I imagine if you have kids then you have to act like a grown up and make your bed every single day. And do the washing up every single night. And not eat dinner on the couch because the table is covered with mannequin hands and tulle. Setting a good example, blah blah.

I just thought I’d feel different, you know? More, um, grown up.

52 responses to “Am I doin’ it wrong?

  1. It must come down to that binary a lot of people expect from contributors to society. Very easy to put people into tidy little boxes, and not think about the nuances of an individual.

    I’m grown up when I have to be. I have a mortgage, but spend a lot of time on art and culture (pop and otherwise). I don’t have kids, but I have a lot of time for the kids in my general sphere, and will do activism for mother’s rights. I go to work, but I refuse to wear a suit and heels. I’m sure if I had to translate myself into a position which involved politics or much involvement in a community, I’d have to find a way to translate my grown up values into that. And if people can’t accept that, then why should I have to change for them?

    I like not being grown up sometimes. It keeps me involved with many different generations, and it keeps me learning. I know people my own age who stopped learning the moment they stepped out of school, and are bigoted jerks because they’re too invested in being grown up (inflexible opinions from decades ago). It also goes the other way – I know people with no responsibility, who are annoying wastrels, with no empathy for anyone.

    And now I’ve written a ramble 🙂

    • Amanda, I love rambles. Most of this blog is my brain vomiting onto wordpress. Maybe I should call it Half-baked Theory, with boob cakes?

      I also refuse to do the “corporate look”, and wonder about what people do when they leave work each afternoon. Do they just go home and watch tv until it’s time to go to bed? Wow, what a life.

  2. Actually, even though I am a parent and in my mid-30’s (most people assume I am in my 20’s and that my children are much younger than they are…my 15 yr old only looks 10!) I don’t do adult the ‘correct’ way either.(is there a correct way?) I prefer to think of it as the logical way.
    I don’t work (I am a full time home schooling mother), the man and I don’t own property, we are both excessively puerile at the best of times, sometimes we eat chocolate for breakfast and ice cream for dinner (if I didn’t own a slow cooker my children would starve and I whole heartedly decree that 2 minute noodles are a perfectly balanced meal – they come with ‘veggies’ now) my kids can quote Family Guy, American Pie movies and Firefly ad nauseam (along with a whole other pile of apparently inappropriate stuff I’m not supposed to let 8-15 yr olds watch/read etc)

    I have bruises all over my body because I married a Ninja that is also obsessed with playing Punch Buggy, wedgies are like a warm hug in this house and fart jokes are the height of hilarity.

    Of course, we also pay our bills on time and make sure the children bathe and brush their teeth twice a day (They don’t HAVE to brush their teeth of course- just the ones they want to keep) our responsibilities are important, but they don’t define us so much that they suck all the fun and joy out of life either.

    If grown up means mortgages and negative gearing, being chained to the 9 to 5 grind and obsessively minding one’s P’s & Q’s until all the fun is sucked out of life because heaven forbid my child should ever utter a curse word or happen to see a nipple on the tv…I don’t wanna grow up. EVER.

    Frankly, you’re the kind of grown up I seek out. I like grown ups who understand the value of playing with their inner child, who indulge in something childish every day and who know that a perfectly placed nonsense word can make a shitty day a good day in an instant. (In my experience, these kinds of grown ups are smart, articulate and creative.)

    Frivolity doesn’t have to mean irresponsibility. A true grown up is all these things simultaneously. It all comes down to one question…would you rather laugh or cry? okay sometimes a good cry is very cathartic, I know there’s the whole “life wasn’t meant to be easy” school of thinking out there, but life doesn’t have to be quite so hard either.

    Okay that’s not a very well structured or coherent reply, the child in me wants to sit and write some more but the boring grown up is saying “You have a property inspection in two days and you really need to go clean your oven.”

    • Pirra, your home sounds awesome!

      I feel your property inspection pain. Ours got postponed so we had to keep the house spotless for three more days.

      • Home is awesome, except when trying to have a serious conversation and some one nearly always brings the tone down to juvenile.

        Three days? I would die. I am leaving most of my cleaning to the last minute. Which really means I’ll clean the bathrooms tonight after everyone is cleansed, do the oven today and then do the floors tomorrow just before the appointed time. I have three kids at home messing things up as quickly as I clean plus the 30 other kids in the street traipsing through thanks to school holidays! So I am not bending over backwards.

  3. When I turned 25 (earlier this year) I felt like I had to change my life and be an adult. I had to quit smoking and drinking and I had to start exercising because that’s what I thought was ‘adult-y’. It’s really boring and I hate it. And whenever I sneak a smoke while having a sneaky bourbon after not using my stupid cross-trainer I feel really bad and naughty. Don’t tell anyone.

    Being an adult sucks. Oh and I don’t want a mortgage because everyone I know who has a mortgage doesn’t have enough money to travel for concerts.

    • Oh and in terms of that last comment – I know you get a house with a mortgage and that’s cool and all but really I don’t know that a house is better than seeing Maiden live on their final tour. Or being close enough to Alice Cooper to touch him while he’s singing Poison. Or jumping around in the front row watching Faith No More on their *final* tour. To me all those things are better than having a house.

    • I took my tongue ring out when I turned 25 because I had this (brief) idea that I’d be A Serious Journalist and Take Life Seriously. Ha! That didn’t last long.

  4. Ahhh what lives you lead!!

    I’m a corporate sellout. Big fat nasty job for a big fat nasty corporation, but it doesn’t mean the end of the world! You can live the corporate life and still not be a “grown-up”.

    It’s all about how you inject your sense of the ridiculous, the feeling of wonder and awe into your day!

    Be subversive and buy your groceries at store you don’t have shares in!
    Be awesome and stay out till 3am on a school night with the band you have a man-crush on!

    Sure, there are some rules we all have to adhere to, to get by, but don’t let it rule you and you can be a kid forever!!

  5. hmmmm. I think there is a bit of stereotyping and cliché responses going on with the replies today and maybe we should take a couple of steps back from the tired old assumptions.

    Having a mortgage, when I eventually got one, didn’t stop me from having fun or being me. I have a job (its 9-5. I wear heels and I have to go to meetings and sound like I know what I’m talking about – I like my job.). I do grown up things like financial planning, I think about getting life insurance (and then forget about it til the next time I think I should get it). I have a savings account with real savings in it, I’m pregnant and I’m getting married next year for the first time (I’ll be 37!) and I have 2 grown up degree qualifications that helped secure my grown up salaried job. I read newspapers and like classical music and going to symphonies (amongst the many other types of music I listen to). I don’t keep up with Joneses. All of this stuff makes me immensely happy and fulfilled. I know I’m a grown up these days and what is so bad about that – I am one of the most contented people I know (yes it sounds vain but its true)!

    I think I have a large sense of fun and silliness, I go to gigs, I drive too fast, I like chocolate crackles, I have piercings and a tattoo. I like to say vagina loudly. I spent about 8 years travelling the world on a shoe string and it was tops but now I stay in nicer hotels when I travel and I like that my grown up salary lets me do this. I like making up nonsense songs and singing them to my partner or my baby bump.

    I heard a youngish (early 20s/late teens girl perhaps) talking on the street the other day and she was “like OMG, I’m totally the coolest person I know. All my friends have relationships and stuff and I’m the only one with tattoos in my group”. My partner and I both laughed at her (inside of our mortgaged house cos I’m not mean) and thought she sounded like a vain, self absorbed try hard, silly like girl who thinks she invented rebellion. She didn’t and neither did I, even when I died my hair purple to piss my mum off!

    • Dammit Lexy! You had to be the voice of grown up reason and actually point to the proverbial elephant in the room with “stereotyping alert” painted on it in big red letters! (And just so you know, I agree with what you just wrote, my attempts at humour are feeble, I am blaming oven cleanser fumes and the fact that I have to wear my grown up pants today and actually do grown up stuff instead off pissing around on the internet…even though it looks a lot like I am doing little else besides pissing around on the internet.)Pooh.

    • Aw Lexy, I don’t think it’s stereotyping but simply highlighting my lack of adult responsibilities. Yes, I have bills and rent to pay, but that’s no different to when I was 18 and moved to Sydney. What I was getting at with my post is that without adult reponsibilities – mortgage repayments, a full time job and children to look after – I don’t feel like an adult.

      • This all leads back to an earlier post about having joy in your life.

      • man friend has a full time job – is he any more adult?

        • You’re so right Lexy. Sorry about my mortgage comment – I was joking around. I didn’t mean it to come off as a stereotype. Hey I wear a suit to work! And it’s not nine to five but it’s a “proper ” job (stupid shift work). I just feel like sometimes I’m not very good at being an adult so I joke around about it. LOL at tattoo girl soon she will realise almost everyone has tattoos (well they do in NZ anyway). I feel the same way about not feeling like an adult because I don’t have a kids, am not married and don’t have a mortgage.

        • Yes he is. He also has a mortgage. Lexy, there’s no denying it – you are a grown up.

          • I revel in my grownupness these days.

            My sister thinks its weird that when I talk about some friends or people I know that I will say “she is an awesome woman” or “she is an odd woman”. She thought my use of the word ‘woman’ seemed out of place, even though I talking about women who are 30 or 40 plus. My sis is now 40 (with 2 kids). When I asked her what was odd about it, she replied “cos I still see myself and refer to myself as a girl!”

            • I revel in my grownupness these days

              Maybe I read your earlier comments wrong, but I thought you were saying you weren’t a grown up?

              • yes you read me totally wrong, maybe have another read! I said I am a grown up and I am very happy with it and I don’t feel in any way constrained by my choices to have a mortgage and children. I maintain that appreciating the fact that I am now a grown up does not mean I am less interesting or spontaneous than I used to be before I ‘grew up’ or to be more accurate realised that I had grown up…the realisation is a creeping process. perhaps that is something I didn’t make clear. but my point is/was being a grown up is a varied state of being and growing up is various states of mind and not necessarily about owing the bank most of your salary.

  6. Did any of you think when you were in your teens, for example, that at A Certain Age you’d suddenly become a responsible adult?

    I’m still waiting for this to happen. Having two kids is harder work than say having a dog but it just makes me responsible for them, not responsible.

    None of this will be any surprise if you count the number of shoes that I have though.

    BTW – eating a bit out of every cake is an evolutionary defence mechanism. David Attenborough says so.

  7. Ah too serious. Muuuuch to serious!! I’ve just started in a new job involving meetings, credibility, professionalism, research, and occasionally (if I feel like it) heels! I still pause in confusion when someone comes to me wanting my opinion and actually LISTENS to my information… The little voice inside my head is yelling “Me? You want MY opinion??”
    My theory is that noone grows up, we just fake it for long enough to be taken seriously.
    Enjoy the fun!!!

  8. Ha, Ha, Ha,

    grown up is something you either are or are not and nothing to do with age. My new man who is in his fifties is still waiting to feel grown up even though he has the mortgage and kids and a respectable job. My old man who is nearly 50 probably was grown up at 10 but also has the mortgage, kids and a respectable job.

    I don’t think I will feel like a grown up woman unless I sprout big boobs and hips and start to look like my mother but doubtless others see me as very staid and sensible grown up.

  9. I know I have grown up accoutrement, house, child, non rust- bucket car, 3/4 time job whose classification impresses my dad because its the same as his boss’,… but I don’t know if I see myself as a grown-up… maybe because I have this idea of ‘grown up’ as reaching a fixed state of identity… and I want to always be free to explore new stuff… I could go on but it would be largely incoherent…

  10. I am the queen of taking it to the gutter. I can make _anything_ dirty. Wandering around Auckland recently, I drunkenly said “You know, I’m *cough* thirty two *cough*, and I have a serious job and stuff…I still want to nick one of those road cones.”

    I don’t think I want to be a grown up. To me, “settling down” has always sounded like “settling”.

  11. So in conclusion;
    Get a house not a burden.
    Be stable but not too steady.
    Aspire to greatness but don’t forget to keep up the fun stuff.
    Be credible but don’t take yourself too seriously.
    Raise children, not drones.
    Mature, but don’t get ‘old’
    Be at peace but don’t stagnate.
    And wipe the moss off, steal a road cone, show off your party trick and have some fun.
    You guys ROCK.

  12. Pingback: The future Dr Nips has a question | the news with nipples

  13. Being grown up to me, is about emotional maturity, about being accountable for yourself and your actions. Accepting that you are not the centre of the universe, about realising that there are many many people that know more about everything than you do, about forgiveness and the realisation that your parents did their best, it was flawed but it was their best, that you will also do your best in life and it too will be flawed. What counts is friendship, love, fun and an openness to the world. You can still have lots of fun and silliness and be grown up. Where you live, what you earn, your age, how you dress and whether you keep a tidy house is all just stuff about you it isn’t who you are.

  14. My goodness…I realise I am commenting a little late…(by a few months…) but I have just started reading this blog.
    I too feel as though I am not actually a grown-up and just pretending, but I seem to have saddled myself with all the superficial (*cough* – No of course I didn’t mean you were superficial, dear) accoutrements of adulthood.
    I have been married (to a junk-hoarder who has previously travelled the world on a shoestring, been a corporate suit, had a wine COLLECTION, flown lots of aeroplanes, blah blah blah) since I was 23? Or was it 24.
    I have two kids. One of whom is about to start school, eeep.
    I have a large mortgage. (More accurately, Adventurous Husband had large mortgage, and I gold-dug my way into his debt. Happy ever after.)
    However, I have never in my life had a full-time job (except for two dreadful, dreadful weeks doing telemarketing to seriously disgruntled ex-clients of an introduction agency.)
    I have never travelled anywhere. (One of eight kids of single-income family – Dad worked in a senior public-service position until he and his nervous breakdown couldn’t stand it anymore and then Mum gleefully threw herself into the world of research, writing papers on measuring social capital and so on, while Dad studied massage and did the cooking, so no money there, then I went to uni and worked part-time because thanks to Our Beloved John Howard I fell into that nice gap between the government paying my parents a small pittance to look after me and the government believing I was independent and perhaps should be eligible for Austudy, especially as I was living in a different STATE…a gap of SEVEN YEARS at the time as far as I could gather from confused Centrelink staff. Then I met and married a mortgage. Er…a MAN with a mortgage. SO never have any money, ever.)
    I looked for a job for over a year before I gave up and started a business, which I ran for 8 years….never earning more than about $15K a year – so I feel as though I have been unemployed this entire time.

    Grown up? No, I am definitely just faking it. I’m not even very good at my self-imposed job of bringing up children. My three-year old likes to grope strange women and say ‘Booooosssssooooms” and occasionally lick them. I lose my temper all the time. I am not a calm, serene, happy mum who likes to play and do craft with the kids. I am a crabby mum who likes them to stay clean and tidy while I read detective stories.

    MAybe one day I will be employed and successful and happy and mature, (one day I will get another tattoo too!), one day I will not need to rely on lavish gifts from friends to pay for freezers, beds and solar-hot-water systems. (Although don’t get me wrong, I am only too happy to have lavish friend who likes to give such gifts)
    One day I may even feel grown up, but as my 70-year-old dad is still wondering what he is going to do when he grows up I don’t hold out much hope.

    Sorry about the rant, it sort of turned into a Reader’s Digest Autobiography.

    • Nope, you’re not too late. That’s the beauty of the internet – old posts are there forever.

      Me and full time work don’t get along too well either. When I have been employed full time, it’s always in a job that is beneath me, which doesn’t use my brain or my skills. And I’m also planning another tattoo.

      Oh, and I think I love your three-year-old. You and Pirra should swap stories about your awesome children.

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