I've recently been thinking of what people mean by the words "grown-up" and "responsible adult" and whether they are considered the same thing. I asked a group of excitable women what they thought when the heard the word grown-up and a lot of them said, "not me." Some equated it with the word responsible, but one friend said, "Not me... I'm responsible and I'll always be a kid." I liked this answer because while I'm starting to feel like a responsible adult, I'm not sure I'll ever feel like a grown up.
So what exactly do we mean when we say "grown-up"?
Dictionary.com defines the word grown-up as, "having reached the age of maturity; characteristic of or suitable for adults; grown-up behavior." But what exactly is suitable for adults or grown-up behavior?
I was a little disappointed when I did some research to see what others said about being grown-up vs. being an adult. Several articles indicated that they viewed being grown-up as an advanced state of being where you consider the consequences of your actions based on more than just "getting caught" if you do something bad. So if that's true, why then do so many of us Excitables cringe when we hear the word grown-up?
So I turned to a more widely known source to determine what we as a culture think of when we think of the word grown-up - Peter Pan. According to Peter, growing up means: going to school just to learn to be a parrot and recite some silly rule, wearing a tie and a serious expression in the middle of July, preparing to shoulder burdens with a worried air, pinching pennies, growing a mustache, and of course never ever climbing a tree again.
If that's what we think of growing up, why would we ever want to do that? I mean, I'd look quite silly with a mustache!
So, if I'm not a grown up, does that mean I'm not responsible?
Responsible is defined as, "reliable or dependable, as in meeting debts, conducting business dealings, etc."
Uh oh... I'm terrible with money and am constantly forgetting things...
BUT WAIT! That's why I have all those SYSTEMS in place!
- I have my bills on autopay and make sure I have enough of a cushion in my bank account each month (OK, OK, my water did get cut off last week because I had to turn off autopay due to a leak last year, but I had it back on by the end of the day!)
- I make sure to tell people at work that if they want me to follow up on something they told me in passing, they should e-mail me about it because I will forget otherwise.
- I try very hard not to make promises I can't follow through on.
- If I say I will be somewhere, I will be there, though I should probably make sure to sync my work and personal calendars and check ahead so I don't realize I need to be somewhere that same day.
OK, OK, so maybe I'm kinda responsible, but surely I'm not mature!
Mature is defined as, "fully developed in body or mind, as a person"
Hmm... That doesn't say anything about acting like a grown-up. I mean, certainly I'll never be "fully developed," but who in this world is? I am, however, pretty comfortable in my skin and generally beyond the point of feeling like I have to prove any points about who I am. I live based on my own values, which is also tied to the well being of others. Overall, I feel like I'm fairly well developed as a person as far as that goes, though of course part of that is knowing I still have a ways to go.
So, if you're worried that you should be more grown-up, remember that you don't have to act like a grown-up to be responsible and mature! And responsibility and maturity are in constant development...