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What Does It Mean To Be An Adult?

What Does It Mean To Be An Adult?Most people think they know exactly what it means to be an adult:

Pay all your bills on time, do your own laundry, and don’t get fired from your job. Or if you’re a little more rebellious, it may be something like: hire someone to do your laundry, eat dessert before dinner, and get drunk every weekend (but Uber home). Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

If that’s all there is to being an adult, then why are so many people in therapy?

The other day I asked a friend (whom I see on a weekly basis and pay for his advice) that very question. He gave me four answers I’d never heard before, certainly not from any of the adults in my life when I was in those dang formative years.

So what does it mean to be an adult?

An adult is:

  1. Kind to herself. When you’re kind to yourself (i.e. love yourself), you don’t have any secret behavior. Of the self-destructive kind, that is. If you’re a 30-year-old male construction worker who enjoys reading Harlequin romance novels on the sly, that’s okay. It’s when your secret behavior is self-destructive that there’s a problem, because adults who love themselves (and no, that’s not a sexual metaphor, although if that helps, go for it!) don’t quietly hurt or punish themselves when no one’s looking.
  2. Self-aware. Defined in the dictionary asHaving conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings,” self-awareness is not to be confused with self-righteousness (“I know myself enough to know that I’m always right”), paranoia (“I know that the government is hacking into my brain”) or assholishness (“I know this seat is reserved for the elderly and disabled, but you snooze, you lose, grandma!”).
  3. Generous. If you’re constantly walking around thinking that people (or life) owes you something, there’s not much room for generosity. How can you give when you think you have nothing or very little because of [fill in name, corporation or deity]? An adult chooses to give her time, money or love without sinking into martyrdom, attaching conditions to the “gift” or expecting something in return. Why would someone be generous if they’re not guaranteed a reward or a result? Because generosity has to start somewhere, and it is the child mentality that thinks “I’ll love him but only if he loves me first.”
  4. Globally-minded. Babies think that the world revolves around them—which it does to a certain extent—and this psychological stage of development generally fades by the time they’re grown up (unless, of course, you’re Kanye West). An adult has a sense of the world and that everyone matters, even if she’s on the other side of the planet and not directly affected by what’s going on “over there.” She sees the world as a place of unity, not a place of “me versus them”—or, in Kanye’s case, “me versus Taylor Swift.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel relieved to know that being an adult has nothing to do with your financial status, your penchant for regular intoxication, or the contents of your hamper.

Selena Templeton is a blogger with JenningsWire Online Magazine. For more posts by Selena please visit here.


The online feature magazine,, is created by National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR that specializes in providing book promotion services to self-published and traditionally published authors. Annie Jennings PR books authors, speakers and experts on major high impact radio talk interview shows, on local, regionally syndicated and national TV shows and on influential online media outlets and in prestigious print magazines and newspapers across the country.

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