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How do you know when you’re an Adult?

This is a scene from one of my favorite movies, Lars And The Real Girl:

 (click here to listen)

Lars:  I was talking to Bianca and she was saying that in her culture they have these rites of passages and rituals and ceremonies and…just all kinds of things, you know, that when you do them, or at least that when you’re done and if you live through them that you know that you’re an adult.  Doesn’t that sound great?
—Gus:  It does.
Lars:  How’d you know?

Gus:  How did I know what?
Lars:  That you were a man!

Gus:  Nah…I couldn’t tell ya.
Lars:  Was it…okay, was it sex?

Gus:  Ummm…yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s a, yeah, yeah…it’s ki…it’s a ki…no…well, it’s kinda sex but it’s, it’s not, it’s not, ah, ya know, I, I don’t know, I don’t know, it’s a, it’s a good, good question.
Lars:  Yeah, but I have to know.

Gus:  (drier buzzes) Hold that thought

Gus:  You know, you should ask Dagmar.
Lars:  I did ask Dagmar and she said that I should ask you.
Gus:  Ok, you know, I, I…I can only give you my opinion.

Lars:  That’s all I want.
Gus:  Well, it’s not like you’re all one thing or the other, okay, there’s still a kid inside, but you…you…you grow up when you decide to do right, okay.  And not what’s right for you – what’s right for everybody.  Even when it hurts.

Lars:  Okay, like what?
Gus:  Like…you know, like…you don’t jerk people around, you know…and…and you don’t cheat on your woman, and you take care of your family, you know, you admit when you’re wrong.  Or you try to anyways.  That’s all I can think of, you know.  It sounds like it’s easy and for some reason it’s not.

Lars:  I know, because nothing’s easy.
Gus:  It’s like the old man.  He didn’t have to take care of two kids alone.  He could have given us to an orphanage or something you know, people do that.  But he loved us and he tried to do right.  Even though he didn’t know how.  And even though he had a broken heart.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Here is what some other people said: 

Vicki: How did I know I was an adult? I am still not sure that I am an adult. I have adult like characteristics but an adult nah! An adult is what society plays upon us. A house, bills, relationships, children, decision-making and most importantly a job! If you count my pets as children I have succeeded  but I still wouldn’t classify me as an adult. I don’t think anyone should, people should keep their innocent like behavior of a child.

Jaime: When the song Jack and Diane makes sense.  “Hold on to 16 as long as you can…”  Before adulthood, you don’t know what the hell he says, nor do you care.

Janet: You know you’re an adult when you realize you were raised to deal with life’s problems without your parents.  I’ve read that girls mature at ages 23 – 25, and boys mature at ages 28 -30.

Bridget:  Oh, I don’t think you ever do.  I don’t think there’s ever a point when you think, “Oh, I’m an adult now!”  I still feel like a kid, because…I’m 23 and I’m like, “damn…this sucks.”
Donna:  Oh, I think you do…become an adult.
Michelle:  Like, she’s a baby…23…

Donna:  I think you do…
Bridget:  I pay bills and everything and I still don’t feel like an adult, I’m still waiting for that moment to hit.  Maybe it’ll hit when I’m 35 or something.

Gloria:  35?
Donna:  I think my…me saying that I’m an adult is when my granddaughter, when I was gonna become a grandmother.

Bridget:  That’s probably it – whenever I have grandkids, then I’ll be like, “Okay…”
Donna:  But I still feel young!

Gloria:  At a young age…I had responsibility at a young age.  When I was in my grade-school years, I had to take care of our family business, I had to open up a store.  I had to pick up my sister at school…so at a young age, I learned to be responsible.
Donna:  Yeah, I learned at a young age to be responsible.  I was a mom at 18.

Michelle:  So, responsibility is a big part of it?
Gloria:  It makes you mature earlier, because you’re given some responsibility.

Donna:  It’s not just you, it’s somebody else you have to take care of.

Laura:  I stopped being able to stay up past 11 o’clock.


Terri: When you start taking responsibility for yourself and your actions.  You understand that there is no longer the safety net of parents and that you will have to take the full consequences of your actions.  For some it happens sooner than for others.  You can be out on your own and be working full-time and still not be an adult, or you can be living at home and have begun to realize what it means to be an adult.  For me, it was when I graduated from college and had to go to work at Wal-Mart for 3 years (1 full-time and 2 part-time).  I was still living at home and I was looking for a full-time teaching job.  During those 3 years, I realized what it was to be an adult and got what my husband affectionately calls “the slap”.  Your idealism wanes and you come to accept that life as an adult is not as glamorous as you originally thought it would be.  You just have to get up each morning, get dressed and go do what you have to do.  (Now this doesn’t mean being an adult totally stinks and I want to go back to being a kid or teenager…being adult does have its perks.)

John: My theory on when you officially become an adult is when you receive “The Slap”.  The Slap happens to a person when they reach the point in life when they realize that life doesn’t always work out the way that they’ve dreamed that it would.  It could be when they realize that Mom and Dad are no longer there to take care of all of their problems and they’ve got to figure life out on their own.  It could be when the “dream job” that they were sure that they were going to land when they got out of college doesn’t materialize, and they end up in a totally different job or industry.  It could be the first time they actually have to make a real rent payment or mortgage payment, or have to figure out how to pay $1,000 worth of bills with only $700 in the bank.  Whatever the case may be, life has more or less slapped them across the face and told them to wake up and start acting/behaving/living like an adult.

Rebecca:  When you’ve got babies sittin’ on you…that are the age you thought you were.  I’ve got two on me right now, for instance.  When you’ve got a 17-year-old asleep in his bed, ‘till noon…and you’ve got to pay for his food.  I don’t know…  You’re a grown-up when you have a job because you have to work, and not because you wanted a job.

Peyton:  I have no answer for that…
Jacque:  There are no grown-ups…  I don’t think I’m grown-up yet.
Michelle:  How old are you?

Jacque:  I’m not sa…  No… That’s not for public consumption.
Peyton:  Once you grow higher than 5 foot 7.

Michelle:  That’s not fair, I’m only 5’3”.
Peyton:  I know.

Jacque:  Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing…as a grown-up.
Peyton:  Yeah, they’re just older people…they’re not really grown-ups.   Once you get mature.

Michelle:  How do you know if you’re mature or not?
Jacque:  I mean, I still do things that I…think about…”how did that happen?  What was I thinking?”

Tom:  Well, if you’re lucky….if you’re very, very lucky…you’re like Peter Pan…and you never quite grow up.  If you get to the point where think you’re all grown up, there’s no more growing to do…well then, that’s…then I think you’re just preparing to die.  Now if you’re talking about maturity…then that might be something different.

What say you?

Did she say dolt?

Items of interest:

Signs of Responsibility by Oodles of Doodles

Becoming Ageless (

growing up by anitalivesherlife

To Be Grown-Up by Kendall Goodwin

When Did I Become An Adult? (



3 Comments Post a comment
  1. jb #

    Hi michelle!!!! way cool of you. I know i’m an adult because the judge tells me every time

    July 15, 2011
    • Hi Jessi! How I miss and love you! I’m glad you stopped by to see me – we all need to do something before the summer is over.

      July 15, 2011

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