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“The moment I felt like a real adult”

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Who could forget the first time they paid rent?

woman holding phone

Adulthood seemed all too easy (and deceptively straightforward) as a kid. Maybe you assumed you’d get a job and your own place, and becoming an adult would just happen along the way. But in reality, traditional milestones like voting for the first time and buying a home aren’t usually what actually makes you feel like an adult. For some people, it’s paying a rent check with your own money. For others, it’s prioritizing your health and wellbeing. Here, six women reveal the first time they actually felt like real adults.

“Buying a car”

Borrowing the family car is one thing, but springing for your own is a whole new experience—and can make you feel like an adult pretty quickly. It happened for Kirstin, 31, and her fiancé about a month ago when they bought a car. “We upgraded for all of our road trips,” she explains. After years of driving an old car around, she’s found herself feeling more high maintenance about her investment. “We have a big-kid car loan now,” she says. “I don’t want to park on the street anymore!”

“Prioritizing my health”

As you get older, you start realizing the importance of health and nutrition, and begin looking for ways to take care of your body from the inside. “I went to the drugstore looking for [a supplement] that would provide vitamins that I wasn’t getting in my frankly not-so-healthy diet,” says Deanna, 30, who eventually settled on Centrum Multivitamin. She eventually added melatonin and lutein supplements (for eye health), too.

“Mailing my rent check”

Sending in the monthly check for rent can be painful for some, but for Pei, 30, it felt more like a badge of honor. “My first rent check out of college felt like a big deal,” she says. “I had steady employment at that point, so it felt great.” The latter is key here, but it doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment.

“Splurging a trench coat”

Nothing’s more adult than shopping with your own hard-earned money. After starting her first job, Christina, 28, splurged on a trench coat she’d wanted for years. “I got one about three months after starting my first job—and I got it on sale!” she says. “It made me feel sophisticated.” She doesn’t wear it often, but when she does, it’s especially meaningful. “It felt kind of silly because I live in LA, but it makes me feel good when it does rain,” she explains.

“Going to the doctor on my own”

When Louise, now 32, reached the age of 18, she made the switch from pediatrician to gynecologist. At the time, going to a new, non-kid doctor felt like a big step. “I went by myself and had to fill out the forms on my own,” she recalls. “And talk to my doctor all by myself.” Speaking to another adult about your personal health without a parent around for the first time ever? Definitely a sign of adulthood.

“Getting my own cell phone plan”

When she reached her late 20s, Alexandra, 34, finally sprung for her own cell phone plan. “My parents were covered through work and couldn’t expense mine, too,” she says. That, and filling out her own health insurance forms—a pretty painful process—made her feel like an adult for the first time.