Growing up is hard to do…?

No doubt if you’re between the ages of 19 and 29, you read this week’s New York Times article, What Is It About 20-Somethings? It garnered tons of attention and sparked reaction pieces all over the web. Take the Salon piece, rather pompously titled: I became an adult at 22: Why can’t you?

Patronising, yes. But you know what? I think much the same thing. (Except perhaps change 22 for 17 or 18). I wouldn’t say I look down on my friends who still live at home, but I’m certainly inclined to smile patronisingly inside my head and think “oh, how little they know. Join the real world”. I’ve been doing it for years, and quite frankly, I don’t see an end in sight. After all, if you’ve got it (fairly) sweet at home, why wouldn’t you stay there as long as possible?

And if there are cultural expectations thrown into the mix, all the more reason to stay put. Some of my Chinese friends have expressed amazement that I live on my own. But the understanding was always that I’d go flatting after high school. (And while that ended up happening much earlier, I have no doubt that that’s how it would’ve turned out. It might not have been easy for the parents to cut me loose, but they would have done so nonetheless.)

And yet, do I really qualify as a grownup? I pay my bills on time, file my bank statements, put out the rubbish, clean the oven, eat regular meals, do laundry, buy groceries. I do it all, but it’s still bloody hard work.

Take Saturday. I got off work at 8, caught up with friends over dessert, then got home after 10 and had no energy for cooking. Dinner that night basically consisted of New York baked cheesecake (SO good), a little couscous with even less chicken, and a hunk of steak.

I don’t think I’ll get to lord it as the worldly one much longer, though. One of my dear friends recently got engaged (the first of us to do so). She still lives at home with her family. She’s finishing up her degree. But while I don’t doubt her love and commitment to her fiancee, and know they have very practical reasons to be getting hitched so soon, I still think she’s rushing it a little.

I think this gem – uttered by another mutual friend – sums it up better than I ever could:

Sometimes couples go and get married. That doesn’t make them grownup.

Some couples are grownup, but they’re not married.

And don’t even get me started on the whole event planning thing. Nothing sounds worse to me than having to organise the engagement party, the wedding, the reception, etc. I can already see how much work it’s going to be…and I don’t envy her.

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6 thoughts on “Growing up is hard to do…?

  • Reply The Non-Student August 27, 2010 at 01:58

    I agree–getting married is not a pre-requisite for being an adult. Many of my friends who married in their early 20s are having difficulties, and one is already divorced. I’m sure more will follow in the next five years. In fact, I think it is MOST grown-up to wait until you feel ready rather than rushing into a marriage because you want a big party. My ex’s cousin did that last year (she’s 20) and they’re already separated.

  • Reply gem August 27, 2010 at 04:36

    Good entry title.

    One of my hometown friends is getting married. And yet… I still feel a superiority to her and her fiance. Because they live in Middle of Nowhere America and I live in New York City, I guess. And in my opinion the wedding they’re planning is lame, but that’s because I have different standards. To me I won’t be grown up until I’m financially comfortable and… worldly, I guess is the way to describe what I consider adult. And being married isn’t a necessary part of my adulthood.

    That annoys me about all these adulthood articles. Why is marriage and offspring part of being an adult? I mean, I would like those things, but I think I could be adult-status before that. I think adulthood is a personal standard that you set for yourself and achieve, it’s not some universal bar that everyone reaches in the same way, ugh.

  • Reply Kara August 27, 2010 at 05:24

    I love the statement at the end. It’s SO true.

    I think too many people are shacking up and getting hitched quickly because they think it would be “fun”. Sure, there’s a lot of happy, fun moments, but they come with a LOT of work! Bills, cooking, cleaning, jobs … it’s not easy!

  • Reply littlehousesouthernprairie August 27, 2010 at 16:45

    Both those articles reminded me what I hate about media. They were fabricated drama and written for the website clicks, not to actually pass on real information. Media! I love you but you make me so pissy sometimes!
    What your friend said about marriage is true. I know lots of mature unmarried people and lots of, um, yeah. 🙂

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie August 30, 2010 at 02:16

    History professor Historiann has a really interesting commentary on the NYTimes article in her blog: http://www.historiann.com/2010/08/22/and-your-music-its-just-noise/ .

    • Reply eemusings August 30, 2010 at 13:03

      Great article. Thanks for the link!

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