I’ve been thinking (my list is incomplete)

It used to be that you were a grown up when you got married, had children, started the job that was going to lead to a gold watch when you finished. Or if you were a woman, started the job that ended when you got married, or at the latest when you had children. (Let’s pretend that doesn’t still happen, shall we?)

Anyhoo, you started the career, and you did all sorts of grown up things like marriage, children, buying a house,  gardening, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  The thing is, I’ve now gotten to 40 and I haven’t done any of those things and I’m starting to wonder what being a grown up actually means, for me.

I’ve been thinking on what I wrote last week. I’ve worked out that I have lived long enough to realise that while being a grown up is an internal standard for me, it’s also something that’s been influenced by my childhood, by my friends, my experiences.

So, what does it mean, for me? It’s definitely those same things I typed out earlier this month but there’s a bit more too. I’ve no doubt this list will evolve quite a bit in the next year or so.

From June 4, 2016

  • It does mean my own home (I want somewhere that’s mine)
  • It means setting myself up as best I can financially.
  • It means getting to the point of doing something I love, with people I respect, as part of my career.
  • It means making time for family and friends but not forgetting that as a serious introvert, time by myself is not selfishness.

From June 22, 2016

  • It definitely means silencing that voice in my head that always jumps to the worst case scenario.
  • It means a year’s worth of expenses in a savings account.
  • It means realising that to be happy, you have to work at it, give it a chance to flourish, and protect the time you dedicate to those things/activities/people that help you be happy.
  • It means working out why I procrastinate and doing something about it.
  • And … I’m not sure what else it means. I am sure working it out is all part of being a Grown Up.

That’s a fairly long list, when you start breaking it down into all the steps, or the reflection needed to work out the steps. I think in the next week or so, I’ll tackle the steps on the most practical item – setting myself up financially. I’m not going to magically have a house deposit, an “oh crap” fund and extra dollars for the superannuation but surely I can work out the steps I can take.

I can do this.




working on it

I know – it’s a big call: growing up, adulting, taking responsibility for shaping the rest of my life.

I’m not saying the last 40 years haven’t had some wonderful highlights (and some lowlights) but really, I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point. Truth be told, I’m not even sure I can recall where/what younger me I thought I would be at this point of my life. I think it involved my own house, a natural calm, money in the bank and fabulous holidays. I’ve grown up a little (thankfully) and I know that happiness, gratitude, family, friends and living are also important but the practical side of me knows that this is it: the turning point for somehow bringing it all together so that I can actually afford retirement and look back and be happy with my life.

I’ve been taking a poll (randomly) over lunches, during work break chats, when out for drinks, during roadtrips. Turns out being a grown up means a great many things to different people.

For some it’s being over 18. For others it’s paying your bills on time, being a good friend and calling your mum regularly. In every conversation, I wondered if that was all there was. Probing a little deeper and yes, my friends wanted to be happier, they wanted meaning but sometimes, just like me, they didn’t know what they wanted.

So, are all the trappings of being a grown up – the house, the car, the family (whatever size), the good relationships, holding down a job, paying the bills – are they actually the easy part? (Not that they’re easy either.) Really though, is this whole Grown Up thing just about being able to pay your bills and pick up the phone? I reflected on that and for me at least, it’s not.

When I’m (finally) Grown Up, I’d like to:

  • be doing something I love,
  • not have to schedule time for those I love because I haven’t over-committed myself,
  • have my own home (I’ve thought about it and I’d really like to achieve the Australian Dream),
  • know that I can afford to retire at some point.

So for the next year, in the interests of growing up, I’m going to focus on balance, on being healthier and happier, saving some money, getting back into some writing and general creativity.

I’m up for the challenge. I can do this.