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Posted on 10 December 2014

Calvin: “The TV listings say this movie has ‘adult situations’. What are adult situations?”

Hobbes: “Probably things like going to work, paying bills and taxes, taking responsibilities…”

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes 4/8/1993

I’ve nearly adjusted to thinking of myself as an adult. It’s been a slow transition, but at a certain age thinking of yourself as a “boy” rather than “man” stops making sense, even when you don’t necessarily identify with all the traditional trappings of manhood or adulthood. I don’t think I’m alone in having this difficulty, a number of conversations with people around my age have led to trepidation around the idea of becoming an adult, despite T-Rex’s sage advice:


Obviously there’s a thinking that being an adult means more than simply ageing- you have to act your age well. And that’s where the difficulty is: what does it mean to act your age any more?

Frank Chimero tackled the subject of adulthood in a post I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. He writes that the traditional definition of an adult is noun-based – spouse, child, home, job. Adults have these things. In the 21st century, he argues, we need to define adults by what they do.

“I’ll draw a line between being a ‘grown-up’—which comes with all the expected obligations like marriage, children, home-ownership, etc—and being an adult—living well within a dignified role in society, educating yourself so you can contribute, honoring responsibilities, having empathy, being a citizen, defining and living the life you want, and the other good stuff that makes the world get along a little better than it would otherwise.”

That’s a definition of adulthood I can aspire to.


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