Being a Grown Up

I came upon the realization the other day that although I use the term in the name of my blog, I’ve never defined the term “grown up”. I guess I used to associate being grown up with getting older. Now that I am “older”, I’ve met too many Peter Pans for that definition to stick.

Upon thinking of it further, I realized that it has two very different meanings in my head: both “sophisticated” and “maturity of outlook and action”.

I remember being 11 and in a shoe store with my mom when I tried on my first pair of high heels.

women s beige high heels
Photo by monicore on

As I tottered around the store, with Ma giggling behind her hand at my wobbliness, I felt the first taste of being grown up. (I’m sure she was relieved when I didn’t always want to look more “grown up” than I was.)

Sometimes being a grown up in the maturity sense feels right and normal, and other times the responsibility feels scary.

Deciding that I really didn’t want to have kids was a very grown up decision. I’ve never been kid inclined, but there were a few years in there where I might have entertained the possibility. Once and for all making that life choice felt both monumental and liberating. No more vacillating or feeling like I should do it. I knew what was best for me. Current Tammy can see how having a baby would have been a mistake, but had I taken that path, the perception would be different. (There I go with alternative universes again!)

More on the chest tightening side of grown up behavior was being solely responsible for my mortgage. This was all on me, and it definitely was a HUGE decision. Waking up suddenly in the middle of the night in a cold sweat was not uncommon before the deed was done. No longer having the decision to make after the signing made most of that go away.

Not all moments of maturity are monumental, however. Recently it was a seemingly small decision that made me feel grown up – in both the mature and sophisticated sense: I am finally at the point in my life where I want real furniture. You know, the kind that doesn’t involve building it from a flat pack! With money my mom gave me after my grandmother’s estate was settled, I bought a new-to-me dining room set. I figured the only way I could afford a decent piece was used, plus it has the huge advantage to me of meaning I now own a 50-year-old dining room set that is in remarkable condition considering its age. While transporting it home in the back of my of my Hyundai did feel very college-like, seeing such a quality piece in my possession fills me with pride.

Grown Up Dining Set - A Drexler!

When did you first feel like a grown up? Has your definition changed with time?

2 thoughts on “Being a Grown Up”

  1. I went to Laguna Beach with a girlfriend for a whole 4 months the summer I was 19. I had a Mercury Capri that I’d bought myself, we had bikes hooked on the back and we were off. We had part time jobs right on the Pacific Coast Highway (okay – so her mom who lived in Laguna Beach hooked us up with them)and we slept in her mom’s living room fold out couch all summer (okay – not exactly striking out on our own) but I remember feeling like I was grown up.
    And yes – it definitely changes as we move through life, doesn’t it? Sometimes earlier feelings of being there (like you in the high heels as a little girl)seem cute and silly.
    But it’s okay to get there in baby steps, and then big girl steps. We attain wisdom one lesson at a time.

    Lovely dining room set by the way – I wish you many happy meals around it!


    1. What a wonderful summer you spent when you were 19! I can see how it felt grown up at the time, and why you must smile about that impression now.

      “We attain wisdom one lesson at a time”… I love that! I might have to use that here some day, and I will give you full credit when I do!


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