The other day, I asked Lifehacker’s cultured, thoughtful, and impossibly sexy readers to tell me about the moment they realised they were fully formed adults. It happens as a technicality on our 18th birthday, sure, and we like to fancy ourselves true adults on that day — but those of us who have been around long enough know that there is a different moment that happens to each of us. An exorbitant bill arrives that is our responsibility, and our responsibility alone; or we experience a jarring role-reversal with our parents; or we fix a toilet for the first time. When it happens, a new knowledge dawns deep within us: This is adulthood.
Here are the funny and poignant moments when you realised you were truly an adult.
The paperwork tells a hidden story
User HumptyDance’s revelatory adult-moment was signalled by the paperwork grown-ups seem to be surrounded by:
I knew I was an adult when I had life insurance, a mortgage, and a 401(k). A few weeks after buying my house was when it hit me: wow, I’m a grown-up now.
A similar moment comes from laurelnev, who posted:
For me, I think it was signing my very first lease without needing a co-signer, as well as getting my very own auto insurance policy.
Finally, this post from Judd, whose adulthood-meets-paperwork-moment just sucks.
When I got my first four digit medical bill. I was completely sheltered before that moment thinking “I have medical insurance, I should be set.” NOPE, welcome to America. That was a slap to the face type of realisation.
Burgers and Dad
Sometimes our introduction to adulthood comes with delicious charred cow. User Oldnslo tells this story:
I think it was my 2nd year of law school. I was about… 23? Dad had come up to OU to visit and see a football game. After the game, my roommate, girlfriend, Dad, and I went back to my apartment. I cooked burgers for dinner.
The next day, I found Dad’s note saying how proud he was, thanking me for the burger. Boom: adult.
I can’t promise these burger tips from Lifehacker will make your dad proud of you, but it can’t hurt, right?
The middle-aged maths
Like your rapidly approaching death, maths is immutable, as user Cardcaptor_RLH85 discovered:
“I was reading some posts on Reddit and saw one by a woman asking about her husband’s midlife crisis. I was laughing until I saw that they were both 37…and remembered that I too am 37. That wasn’t so much an ‘I’m an adult’ moment as it was an ‘I’m awfully close to half-way through an average human lifespan’ moment.”
Suburban dad energy
When younger people consider the pros-and-cons of ageing, they rarely factor in the freedom of entirely running out of fucks to give, as this post from Panthercougar illustrates:
I’m now 39, and at some point over the past ~5 years I realised that I no longer care what strangers think of me. New Balances because they are comfortable? Check. Wide-brimmed hat because it offers good sun protection? Also check. Novelty print button up shirts for the summer? Yup.
I think I’ve simply grown up to become the stereotypical white suburban dad, but I’m ok with that because it’s who I was always meant to be.
Organisational chaos at supermarkets
The realisation that childhood is truly over can strike us anywhere, including the aisles of your local Trader Joe’s. From Spaceman497, who said adulthood hit…
In my early thirties, getting annoyed that Trader Joe rearranges their aisles several times a year.
If you can manage to find these items in your Trader Joe’s, here’s how you can prepare a shelf-stable Trader Joe picnic — it’s a very adult thing to do.
Parents: Dead and otherwise
Nothing drives home the cold fact of your adulthood like the older generation passing away, as several of our readers pointed out.
When I was 31, my girlfriend’s mother died suddenly and we had to arrange all the funeral, finances, and house because her father has a mental disorder and was wholly incapable. Our lives fully sucked from the planning and rearranging and it consumed all our free time for months. And my girlfriend never really got a chance to grieve because of it. She has been taking care of him since.
Golden Ballfield posted:
When the second parent also died.
Sometimes it’s not the death as much as what surrounds it, as Charlie points out:
When my mother passed, and I found myself wondering what the funeral plans would be. Then realising that I was the one to make them.
Our parents don’t have to die for us to come-of-age. It can be about realising that you’ve grown more mature than your folks, as 48crash found out:
When I had to mediate an issue between my parents. I was in my mid-20’s and felt like I was the only adult in the room!
Children are our future and harbingers of our adulthood
Nothing will make you say, “wait, I guess I’m the adult now?” quite like your own children, as Henry Case told us:
The first time my son wanted to hold my hand so we could cross a street. This little fellow trusted me with his life!
If you’re desperately clinging to childhood even though you have children, I strongly recommend going out skateboarding with them.
User Night Walker got the adulthood wake-up call courtesy of a fleeting romantic interest:
When I nearly asked out someone I really hit it off with at an event hosted by my college alumni association and realised that, even though she was a college graduate, she was too young for me.
Jackass and Birkenstocks
Johnny Knoxville is 51 years old — just letting you know. Knoxville was vital to NoKidsJustBikes’ coming-of-age moment.
I watched the final Jackass movie and then ordered some Birkenstocks. I am at 41 now an adult.
A garden hose and a lawnmower herald adulthood
Buying a house is a huge marker of being a real adult, but sometimes, something huge like signing the mortgage sometimes doesn’t do the trick; it’s more about the smaller details.
Surprisingly it wasn’t when we closed and signed the paperwork on our first house, it was a couple of days later when I was standing in line to pay for a lawnmower.
For Incrediblefubar, it was a garden hose.
When I bought my first garden hose. That brought the entire weight of home ownership, and therefore adulthood, crashing down on my head.
Finally, a note of defiance
This last post from Doober McCall is a reminder that you don’t have to become an adult if you don’t want to. You have to get older and die, sure, but you don’t have to be an adult.
I’m in my 50s, married 30 years, 3 kids. I’m not a fucking adult and I never will be.