How to Avoid Adulting & Escape Alive!

At what age do you officially feel like an adult? I’m asking for a friend.

Oh, heck. It’s me. I really, really, really want to know.

I’ve been waiting on the feeling since I turned 18, I guess. I don’t know what I am expecting to feel exactly – something akin to what I experience when I’m with my mom – that I’m-in-the-presence-of-someone-who-really-knows-what-they’re-doing – feeling.

Mom can competently file her own taxes (even relishes the challenge, I suspect) and always knows exactly whom to call when something breaks.

Her eldest daughter, on the other hand, gets stumped beyond providing first and last name and date of birth on most any official document.

And when something stops working, I don’t think handyman or DIY YouTube video like mom and my smarter sisters do for a fix, I immediately think throw it out and buy a new one (which is why my husband breaks from his self-imposed stress-free Sabbaths once a month to lose his mind over my Visa bill, but I digress.)

The great irony is, the younger I was, the closer I probably felt to being a grown-up. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately with one kid almost done with college and another just starting out.

When I was their age, I absolutely knew everything. The older I get the less I know - and the less I know I know. Which, I think, is important to know.

It gets me a little crazy, for example, when any candidate older than 25 and running for public office, is judged by the contents of their high school yearbook.

Good grief!

Who in heaven’s name should be judged in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond by who they were as a teenager or by their sophisticated high school musings:  “Roses are red, violets are black – I’ll die laughing when you get left back.”

Gimme a break.

But back to the point. In high school, we all think we know everything. We think we should be treated as adults even though most of us, a lot of the time, behave like dummies. 

Then you hit your 20s and adult things come like paying significant bills, maybe landing substantial jobs and relationships, and the world (save a certain government healthcare plan) proclaims you well and truly an adult. And certainly at this point when it comes to grown-up behavior, fake it till you make it, as they say.

But even now that I have cruised past life’s Mason-Dixon Line; when the years in the windshield are sure to be fewer than those in the rearview; when I cannot open the mailbox without an infernal “reminder” from AARP, it seems to me by now I should be at the peak of the adulting hill, looking down at my nose through my bifocal lenses on the millennials and all the other youngsters climbing up, hurling wisdom at them like Moses presenting the Ten Commandments.

But I’m so not there (except for the bifocals).

I feel like I have so much to learn and so much I want to learn. I feel like I have some solid advice I can offer my daughter, for example, but also that I’m still making so many mistakes and still trying to glean life lessons from all the screw-ups.

I still crave my mom’s wisdom.

I feel but a few wee years removed from high school myself. Not a senior citizen!

I feel like I still have stuff I want to do and new hills I want to conquer regardless of the fact I prefer (read: need) to be asleep by 9:30 p.m.

I take all of these deep thoughts to my supremely wise and Godly friend Beth on our weekly Friday morning walk. 

I ask Beth the first time she really felt like an adult. Beth says it was around the time she turned 25, when she no longer thought it was a great idea to hang her body out the window with the car speeding down the Interstate.

That seems totally logical to me but I guess what I am talking about is that feeling of being a pretender maybe? Like when you walk into a crowded reception and you get that awful feeling everyone else is so smart and credentialed and you should really be at home with a box of mac and cheese (Kraft only, please) and plunging the intellectual depths of People Magazine?

Beth and I ponder this pretender thing and we figure that most everyone feels inadequate even if they’re at the top of their game. It’s just part of the human condition. She reminds me that many people say they only truly feel like an adult once they’ve lost both their parents. Both of us are so blessed to have our parents with us and this knowing that we are blessed takes us to the place, I think, God wants this thing to end – like all things, with Him.

Proverbs 3:5 tell us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Maybe quite never feeling all grown up is God’s way. Maybe it’s God-implanted – a heavenly reminder that no matter how old we get, regardless if we’ve lost our own earthly parents, we were designed to be sons and daughters of a Great Teacher who has so very many lessons to impart and as long as we’re breathing, we are never done. We’re never arrived. We’re never fully grown but merely a work in progress on this side of heaven.

Ruth Bell Graham captured this best with the simple message on her tombstone which reads:  “End of Construction—Thank you for your patience.”

Maybe that confusing feeling like you’re really not in control, not an adult, is God’s way of keeping us seeking Him, from becoming too “wise in our own eyes” as the Bible warns against.

With Christmas only a couple weeks away, God reminds us in the most powerful and poignant way imaginable it’s impossible for us to totally have our acts together, that we are adults who are but children who have always needed a Savior – and so He sent us His son.

As a young TV news reporter, Christy mistakenly drove the bad guys away from the crime scene. If you're looking for a funny and inspirational speaker for your next event - contact Christy at or 803.908.7630. For information click HERE.

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