A couple of days ago the Zen Archer posted a blog about adulthood and it prompted me to finally finish an entry that I began months ago about responsibility and adulthood and what these things mean to me. I've been thinking about it a lot thanks to the actions (or lack thereof) and behaviors that I see everyday and this includes my own behavior.
My views on responsibility and adulthood, and what they mean to me were formed fairly early. I was raised as an only child from a single parent home. I was also the only child in my entire family until I was 14 years old. The closest person in age to me was 7 years older than me and I didn't really spend much time with him until I was in 5th grade and he was in high school. I was always treated more as an adult than a child growing up. I was also a latchkey kid from the age of about 9 or 10. My mom worked full time and then some, in order to support us and provide me with everything I needed. When my mom was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia when I was 12 or 13 years old, all of a sudden my role changed to being more of a parent than a kid. I had to do more around the house to help my mom because she wasn't able to be as active as she used to be. I started working right after I turned 16 and began paying rent, buying my own clothes, making sure all my laundry was done and basically taking on the role of an adult. I sometimes think that I didn't have much of a childhood or at the very least I was never as childish as those around me. I'm okay with that now because I realize that all these experiences have made me the person I am today and we all know how awesome I am, so it's not all bad. *laugh*
So yeah, now that I am 32 years old I have very specific ideas of what makes someone a responsible adult, I have a little list...
To me, being an adult means -
doing the things that you have to do or that you agreed to do, even if you don't feel up to doing them. There was a day not so long ago that I didn't get more than about 3 hours of sleep after a crazy night and I had plans to meet some friends to discuss a project they wanted me to work on. I am sure that they would have let me re-schedule for later in the day but frankly it never once occurred to me to even ask. I agreed to be there at a specific time and place and to not do so just because I was tired and hungover wouldn't have been acceptable to me.
taking care of things when you said you would take care of them, not a week later or after being reminded to do it 20 times. I understand that people forget stuff sometimes, god knows I do it all the time but if you say that you will do something that means that you are making an agreement with the other person and you should adhere to it in a timely fashion. I try very hard to do something as soon as possible when I agree to do it. For example if I tell Mr. S that I am going to do laundry on X date. I do the laundry and put it away on X date or at the latest, the day after. Shit happens to everyone and sometimes you don't always get it done right away but I just think that you should do your best to take care of things when you say you will. If you cannot or will not do it when you say you will, either don't agree to it or be upfront with whomever you made the agreement with so they aren't disappointed when you don't do it. By not acknowledging things, all you are going to do is build resentment.
The next three are just general things that I think way too many people forget about and quite honestly I wonder if all these babies who are having babies have any idea about how to teach their spawn that these are all essential qualities.
treating other people with courtesy and respect - simple really.
being punctual or at the very least communicating with people when you are going to be late -
respecting other peoples time and energy and space - remember if someone invites you to their home, it's just common sense to clean up after yourself. Don't leave a huge mess for them to clean up later.
Basically what I'm saying here is that being responsible and behaving like an adult sucks a lot of the time. Doing what you said
you'd do even when you don't want to do it. Having to cancel plans because you
either don't have the funds or because your funds need to go elsewhere. Not
travelling anywhere because you don't have the money. Just saying no because
you know that if you say yes and do X there will be long lasting consequences. Realizing that there are consequences to all your actions. Treating others with respect and courtesy even if you don't like them or are grumpy. It's not easy. It can be incredibly difficult to be nice or even civil to people you don't like. God knows that I suck really bad about that, but I've been trying. Because I am not a child anymore and I no longer want to behave like a child. Do I still get angry and petulant and pouty? Absolutely. But I've been trying to limit the field of damage when it comes to that and I'm doing the best I can. Again, part of being an adult is actually trying to do your best instead of saying you will do your best.
I dunno, I feel like I rambled and babbled a lot even by my standards and I can't quite tell if I managed to get my point across without sounding like some harsh, grumpy old whiner. So I will ask you, what does being an adult mean to you?