I always thought I’d feel like a completely different person upon entering adulthood, but growing up was much more subtle and gradual than I expected. In my imagination my grown-up life entailed boardroom takeovers and lobster dinners at fancy French restaurants (thanks, movies), but in reality, adult life means firm conversations with the cable company and nights at home cozying up with Netflix. Adulting is full of surprises. Here are some more small signs you’re really growing up.
1. You get way too excited about jobs that offer insurance
When I got my first post-college job, I was so stoked about gaining employment that I barely paid attention to the fact that my work offered insurance, as well. Once this job ended and I got the harsh reality check that not all employers provide health benefits, I learned just how valuable insurance is. Not all places provide workers with insurance, so when it does happen, real adults rejoice! And a 401K plan? That’s like the adult-version of sprinkles on a sundae.
2. You list your significant other or best friend as your emergency contact
Sorry, mom and dad!
3. You make subtle healthier food choices
When I went off to college in 2006, I was the only freshman in my dorm who still drank whole milk. I quickly switched to 2%, and now I’m all about 1%. I’ll develop a taste for skim once I’m 30, but for now, I’m relieved my idea of a snack has evolved from a box of Cheez-Its to a handful of Triscuits.
4. You do your own taxes
OK, OK, maybe your parents help out a little bit, but you streamline the whole process and take note of all the deductions you can list. (I would like to deduct one ticket to The Fault in Our Stars, please and thank you.)
5. You’ve written at least one ‘Thank You’ card
If you’ve ever sat down with a pen, a box of cards with the words “thank you” on the front, and a roll of Forever stamps, congratulations: you’re getting old.
6. TV night on a Friday sounds like the best thing ever
After a trying work week, you’re psyched to chill with some Netflix and a beer, rather than rage all night at a party. The 22-year-old version of me would have found this depressing and lame, but 26-year-old me just loves this moment of Zen.
7. You read before going to sleep
You know, like parents (and Nic Cage) do in movies? You keep a book or Kindle on your nightstand and you tuck into it right before falling asleep—reading glasses optional.
8. You’ve attended a wedding, and not as a flower girl
Chances are, you’ve been in at least one wedding as well . . .and as honored as you are to partake in the big event, you also worry about what the nuptials will cost you. That’s just another symptom of being a grown up.
9. You’ve waited more than 45 minutes on the phone for something important
Maybe you’ve had to call your insurance company, your Internet provider, or your cable company. Either way, you know what it’s like to sit on the phone for nearly an hour (or more) waiting for a human to get on the line. Oh, joy.
10. You change your sheets more than once every few months
And you don’t necessarily bring all your laundry to mom and dad’s house every time you see them.
11. Doctor appointments are a privilege, not a punishment
You may never grow to enjoy going to the doctor’s office, especially since you don’t get a lollipop out of it anymore—but, hey, at least you get a few hours off of work.
12. You’ve written a check
And the address listed on the top left corner isn’t your childhood home, but your own place!
13. You spend your weekends and free time running errands
The laundromat, the grocery store, the post office. Welcome to your weekend to-do list. Your Saturdays or Sundays revolve around long lines, crowded parking lots, and packed subway cars because you’re trying to take care of your weekly chores, and everyone else just so happens to be doing the same thing. You may be annoyed by the masses, but at least you’re not alone.