On “Adulting”

I have a confession:  I am completely and totally 100% okay with being called “ma’am.”

I believe I may be in the minority with this.

Today I turn 38 years old and once again I find the number before me a little shocking.  I remember when other people were 38 and they were definitely a lot older than I am now…right?

It’s ironic that my age surprises me because at the same time the idea of being a grown-up, and being treated like one, does not bother me at all.  I see and hear lots of comments these days about the perils and frustrations of having to “adult.”  I don’t know when “adult” became a verb, but I have to say I find it pretty funny – even though I disagree with the struggles usually applied with the term.

I see twenty-somethings discussing and sharing that “adulting” has caught them by surprise, that is harder and more difficult than they thought.  I see my peers sharing their regret that they have to “adult.” I see the general idea that returning to …childing?  or teenager-ing?  or adolescent-ing?  would be better or easier.

Friends, maybe it’s just me or the fact that I recently read through my teenage diaries in order to participate in “Grown-ups Read Things They Wrote as Kids,” but I will take adult-ing over the alternative EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.  

Adulting is fantastic!!

Let me give you an example.

When I was 24 I went to buy my first car on my own. A friend came with me, also 24.  We went to dealership after dealership where we were ignored.  We would have to ASK for help every time and even then they sometimes ignored us.  And we let them!!  They were the “adults” in our mind, and buying a car was “adulting” stuff.

A few months ago when I went to buy a car, no one treated me like that anymore.  People came to talk to me.  When I had questions, they answered them.  And yes, they called me “ma’am.”  As they should!   I’m here to buy a freakin’ car for goodness sake!!!  Ma’am away!!

Let me give you another example. It is called “swimsuits.”

When I was  a teenager I laboured over what swimsuits to wear.  I wanted to be in style. I wanted to look good. I was so self-conscious in my own skin.

Now, with joy, I put on my swimsuit that cuts to the upper thigh and also has ruching in all the right places.  As a teenager, I would never have worn it because it wasn’t cool enough. I would have instead walked around awkwardly in a swimsuit that made me uncomfortable. Or worn a t-shirt over it.  Now, I go to the beach and see so many girls walking around self-consciously. Not me!!  I’ve got my lovable one piece and I don’t care if anyone looks at me funny.  Because I’m adulting.  And also no one is looking at me anyway (please note: they were never looking at me before either…something else that adulting teaches you).

Adulting is awesome!

With adulting comes confidence.  With adulting comes letting go of the belief you can be everything to everyone and being comfortable being exactly what you are when you need to be.  With adulting comes liking yourself.  With adulting comes responsibility, but along with that comes a sense of purpose and direction in your life.  

I loved a lot about my teenage and younger years.  There are things that I do miss about them.  But I am so happy to wake up each day and get to “adult.”  I get to come to work where God has called me.  I get to wake up with the man I married (marriage is another awesome example of an adult thing). I get to be a mom.  I get to decide what I want for dinner and when I go to bed.  

And sometimes I get to be called “Ma’am” by someone younger than me and I’m just fine with that.

This is what I think:  when they say Ma’am they say it is because they realize they are talking to an adult.  They don’t see me as their peer.  They see me as something different – because I am. I am not what I was then.  I have grown and I have grown-up –  things I hoped for back when I worried where life could ever take me.

If you’re younger and stepping into the adult world, don’t be afraid. Don’t fear adulting.  Don’t run from it.  Don’t dismiss it and don’t avoid it.

And if you’re adulting your way along, give yourself a high five!  Look at you!!  You are doing this thing!!!  I know it’s not always perfect, but aren’t you so happy that you no longer read “Sweet Valley High” books and wonder if everyone is having more fun than you? …(And can I just say: aren’t we all glad Facebook didn’t exist when we were growing up? *pauses for heartfelt Amens from all the adults who know exactly what I’m saying here…*).

Three cheers for adulting!
Today if I’m asked, “How old are you, Ma’am?” my answer is a simple one:   “38! …And it’s wonderful!”

Feeling great at 38 (*Full confession: this photo was taken when I was 37 years and 11 months old. Photo cred to Willow Tree Photography).


Add Yours
  1. Jenn Rombeek Burnett

    This is a really fabulous reflection Leanne! What a great alternative to all the advertising that invites us to reject ageing. I’m constantly on the lookout for healthy celebrations of woman who are comfortable in their current stage of life. Your reflection just resonates most deeply because we are the same age with similar callings 🙂 Blessings on the year ahead!


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