I officially became an adult in 2000, but I did not feel like an adult for a very long time. I know that probably sounds weird, but when I say it to people, they most often agree with me, and commiserate. I think the “not yet an adult” feeling comes from an idealized view of adulthood that we all grew up with. I looked at my parents with their full-time jobs and house full of kids they were raising, and I just didn’t feel like I was an adult in the same way that they were.
I spent my college years having fun, and my 20s figuring out who I was as a person. Along the way I did a lot of adult things - I started my “grown up” career, and even changed careers; I moved myself across states, twice; I figured out how to set up a 401k and pay taxes and other adult things. In my 30’s I finally started to feel like I was getting into the groove of being an adult, but I still didn’t see myself as an adult for some reason. It started to slowly kick in when I got engaged and began planning a life with William. My feelings of adulthood got even stronger when I became a mom, because suddenly I was THE ADULT and responsible for keeping another human alive.
Even with all these life events, I truly did not feel like an adult until we applied for a mortgage and bought a house.
It’s so weird, right? Like out of all the things I’ve done, buying a house is the thing that made me really feel like an adult? But it did, even more than becoming a mother. For a long time I couldn’t explain why I felt that way, until I figured out what it was about buying a house that was so different from the other adult things I’ve done in my life - getting a mortgage and buying a house was the one time when people scrutinized my entire life and deemed me “acceptable” enough.
Think about it - for other milestones of adulthood, you don’t have to subject your entire life to someone else’s scrutiny & judgement. Getting a job just means you have an interview or five, and maybe submit to a background check. Buying a car? Show them a couple of paystubs and you’re good and ready to drive off the lot. When you apply for your marriage license, all they wanna know is your married name (if you’re changing it) and take your money. And if you want to have a kid, there’s no entity that decides if you’ll be a good parent, unless you’re attempting to adopt.
I knew that applying for a mortgage would require a lot of paperwork, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much, and the types of things that they would need to see before underwriting our loan. Pay stubs, full tax returns, bank statements, even a detailed letter from us noting where we were getting our down payment from - all required. Not to mention the complete scrutiny of all our assets and debts, and our credit histories. This isn’t a complaint, I’d just never had anyone dive so deep into my financial life.
I’d always been a little worried about one day buying a house (Do we make enough? Is our credit good enough?) so my worry kicked into high gear during our underwriting process. I worried that something from our past would come back to haunt us, but it all worked out fine. It was the best feeling to get that call from our broker saying everything was approved and we could close that day (which we did).
In the year since we bought and moved into our first home, I feel like more of an adult. I feel like I’ve finally ticked off all the things that added up to being an adult - getting married, having a child, buying a house, having a career.