"You can't do this. You're an adult now." Those were the words ringing through my head when I didn't know the name of our cruise ship at US customs en route to Florida. As a child; I had assumed Holland America was the name of the ship. As an adult; I didn't ask the questions I needed to before traveling.
As I fumbled over my words and turned bright red, the customs agent began to lay into me. It wasn't the best day to get interrogated (if there are ideal days for this) but as a single, 27 year old that was separated from my family after not registering for Nexus like they told me too, I was in a horrible mood. And, because I didn't know the name of the ship, I was marched off to secondary with the statement: "You're an adult, you should know this information."
As much as I threw an internal temper tantrum, I was actually just mourning the loss of not being 'allowed' to have a temper tantrum anymore, and being sent to secondary without my parents, or being able to find anyone else to blame, it really sunk in; being an adult sucks. Okay, yes I was upset, but time was of the essence, and I had to recompose myself and get the information I needed to emerge as an adult where a former child had once entered. So I requested permission to use my phone, said my thank you's, and the remainder of the trip I couldn't help but acknowledge when I was being a child. To be honest, I was a child a lot, sometimes I got into moods I didn't feel like changing, so I drank for those times (pro adult tip #1 - you're welcome).
All in all, even if my parents still treat me as their darling child, alas, I am a 'not-so darling adult' to the rest of the world.
10 years ago, my tearful expression to not knowing the name of the ship, and being separated from my family, would have no doubt been acceptable, but just as I've figured out how to be professional in my work-life, I had yet to learn how to be an adult in my general-life, at least in certain situations (I pay my mortgage on time, have home owners insurance, but there's more to adulthood than that apparently).
We could define adulthood as being of a certain age and having certain responsibilities, but I think it really comes down to these 6 tell-tale signs:
- Do you accept responsibility or pass blame?
- Do you move forward or try find excuses?
- Do you control your reaction or try control other people?
- Do you use foresight or pledge ignorance?
- Do you apologize or wait for an apology?
- Do you take 10 minutes to recompose yourself or 10 hours?
You can't control what people do, but you can control the way you react to it and that I believe is the key to rolling your eyes and accepting adulthood like... Well, like an adult.
Some excuses I've gotten rid of thus far are:
- Excuses for my lack of exercise.
- Excuses for eating poorly - it's hard to blame the cheap/easy/pizza when you're the one dialling
- Excuses for getting angry - yes fighting happens but for each action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and my reactions were NOT equal, they were overboard, which I'm sure any member of my family was tempted to do to me on our cruise.
Two areas of my life I can say I've banned excuses is my professional life and friendships. I'm a part of a team, and if it goes down, no amount of blame passing or excuse making will actually fix the situation. You can either accept the situation and move forward, or point fingers, and the funny thing about pointing a finger is it somehow morphs to point right back at you.
So as much as you want to go out on a weekday, stay in a horrible relationship, or plead ignorance, you have to say "I'm Sorry. I can't. I'm an adult" to your inner-child. Morale of this story, I'm 27, and in the eyes of society, I'm an adult. A harsh reality check from a customs agent that holds a lot of power (I need to go to NYC as often as possible, and I can't let my sense of childlike entitlement ruin my adult based dreams). A life lesson was learned that day my friends. Probably the first of my 'official adulthood'.