When I was a kid, being a proper grown up was defined by a couple of things. As well as being able to answer most of the questions on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, grown-ups were allowed to have their friends over for tea and call them dinner parties and also kept an emergency stash of stamps in their purse (supposedly for last-minute birthdays and post-related dramas.)
The most important thing I noticed, however, was that being a grown up gave them unwritten permission to moan about how busy and tired they all were. It didn’t matter if you’d had a traumatic day at school learning your 8 times tables or you’d been shunned by the boy you fancied, adults were always allowed to have a harder time of it, and as a result, you generally weren’t allowed to mention your own issues. If you did, you’d only be greeted with a long lecture about how one day, you’ll wish you were the age that you are now and you’ll consider your school days some of the best times of your life.
For some, this is true. Being a kid gave you no responsibility and little to worry about – the big dilemmas came in the form of choosing whether you’d have Turkey Dinosaurs or Chicken Nuggets for your dinner, or how to win at hula-hooping competitions between you and your best mate. I was a happy kid, but I’d still be reluctant to say that my school days outweigh the life I have now. Truth is, I bloody love being a grown up.
There’s no denying that adult life has its pitfalls, but there’s still plenty to celebrate. Getting out of bed every morning to go to work is balanced by knowing I can pay my own bills and drive my very own car, as well as have the occasional splurge on chunky leather boots. I still get a buzz out of knowing that when I treat myself to Starbucks, I’m doing so with my own hard-earned cash. Adult life also brings freedom and independent decisions – from deciding what you want from life and who you’ll spend it with, to having Jaffa Cakes for breakfast just because you can.
Most importantly, becoming older generally means becoming wiser too. I was once obsessed with what people think, and now I couldn’t care less. Having friends as a child means knowing who’s best for having fun with, but having friends as an adult means knowing who you can Whatsapp at 4am when you’ve had too much wine. I’m learning that when Baz Luhrman used that line ‘Know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum’, in this song from the 90’s, he was definitely on to something.
Surprising to me is that with each new year, my dreams get bigger and the things I once thought of as impossibilities feel entirely possible. When you’re a kid, a future seems big and scary – it’s only when you’re living it that it doesn’t feel scary at all. Next time you’re worrying about how to pay your rent or whether your love life is going off the rails, think back to the 7 year old you and consider how impressed they’d be about how far you’ve come.
If all else fails? Keep some emergency stamps in your purse.