When I was touring colleges my junior year of high school, I was, amusingly enough, offered a kids’ menu at lunch and a wine menu at dinner within the same day. That sort of epitomizes the past three to four years of my existence: am I a kid, or am I grown up? I suspect I will continue to feel that way at least until I finish school. I suppose I’m not really a kid anymore, but at the same time, I’m still a little weirded out when people treat me as an adult (Since when am I “ma’am”? And since when do adults introduce themselves to me by their first names?).
Over last Christmas break I had coffee with a lady I know from church–well, two churches, to be precise. We both went to the same church before I switched during senior year; when I came back from college over one of the breaks last year, it turned out that their family had also changed to the same church that I attend. She’s always seemed like a really nice person with a solid family, but I hadn’t really had the chance to talk to her outside the obligatory “hello” during the passing of the peace or brief interactions while we were both helping with VBS at our old church.
I’m glad we had the conversation we did, in part because I felt that it further justified my leaving our old church. (I have never regretted that decision, but it’s always nice to know that someone else agrees.) Mostly, though, I just enjoy talking to adults, who, unsurprisingly, are rather in short supply while in college. It was interesting, though, because I felt like she took interest in me as a young person, but also treated me with some level of respect that I’m not used to receiving from adults. The majority of my adult friends knew me as coaches/teachers, or knew me when I was (at least legally) still a kid, or have kids my age, or know my mother well, and therefore still see me as a kid–which, by the way, is totally fine with me, because that’s how I see myself. In this case, I (and my mother) have only known this person for about three or four years in a distinctly hello-how-are-you sort of way and her kids are significantly younger than me, so in a weird sense, I think these factors may influence how she sees me. Honestly, I’m just stabbing at the wind and quite possibly reading into things too much, though it’s still an interesting thought.
All this leads me to the question: What does it mean to be grown up? Not to live at home? That disqualifies a lot of people who have “moved back in”. To be done with college? A lot of grad students I know think of themselves as “kids”. To work full time at a “real” job? To have kids? To be completely done with your education? To be able to rent a car? Do some people never grow up? If so, is that good, bad, or neither? I don’t know.