In 48 days I’m going to turn 32 years old. When my mother was this age, she had been married for 11 years, was taking care of a 10 year old and a 6 year old, and working full time. (I know – it blows my mind too!) I, on the other hand, am freaked out about suddenly living with a roommate in 2 weeks, can barely take care of my two cats, and stay out late on weeknights. And here’s what I’m wondering…at what point does one feel like an adult? Because I gotta tell ya, in my almost-32 years I have never felt like a proper grown-up. I have a grown-up job (with a 401k and everything!), I pay my own bills, I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve even had a couple of serious relationships, and still adulthood is elusive.
Is it some tangible thing that suddenly makes one feel grown-up? Marriage? Mortgage? Offspring? Divorce? Or is it something more nebulous like a sense of responsibility or an acknowledgement of one’s own mortality?
Popular culture characters like Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw have elevated the status of the care-free, irresponsible single gal to that of art. And I am not above embracing that art. Spending freely on frivolity, enjoying a full and varied social calendar, demanding as much “me” time as I want, and shirking obligatory duties – yes, I am genuinely and unabashedly selfish. So maybe adulthood comes with selflessness. And in that case, I may NEVER grow up.
Despite this, I like my relatively un-adult-like existence. Of course, that could be only because I have no basis for comparison, but I don’t find myself yearning for any other kind of life (well, unless of course that life included me being independently filthy rich!). What if adulthood is a myth? Maybe we all just go through life as over-sized children, with no one ever feeling much like an adult, but some pretending to be grown-up. And further, pretending to actually like it.
Peter Pan Syndrome is not a behavioral disorder, it’s a lifestyle choice!