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not feeling like an adult


In my opinion, being an adult means being 100% responsible of your own life. So when you fall and when you win, you know it’s all you. Being an adult is realising that it sucks being an adult and wishing to become a kid again.

Yes I consider myself an adult. I started to consider myself an adult when I stopped relying on my parents for money completely, when I tell them my travel plans and career plans not to seek for their permissions but just as a courtesy, and when I get more excited buying them presents than getting one from them.

– Beatrice, 23, Software Developer


For me being an adult means being fully responsible of yourselves. You have to bear the consequences of your actions without expecting anyone else (parents, friends, etc) to protect you from the consequences. Being an adult means you have the freedom to choose all the things in life and make crucial independent decisions. I believe that age and stage of life (working, marriage, having a children) alone don’t define adulthood. Adulthood is all about identity, finding yourselves and who you want to be.

Even at the age of 24, often times I don’t consider myself as an adult. I am still in the process of finding myself and sometimes I don’t have clear priorities. Although I’m working, I’m still financially dependent on my parents. Crucial decisions that I made are with interventions from my parents.

– Emma, 24, Financial Analyst


To me, being an adult means having and owning responsibility. When we get older, naturally we become our own person and branch out from depending on our parents – at some point we all have to fend for ourselves, and perhaps look out for others around us.

To me, being an adult means having to pay the bills by reaching into your own pocket. It means making sure you have enough to eat. Making sure you are able to pay your rent or mortgage to keep a roof over your head. Making sure you hold down a job so that income comes in and after paying the bills, you think about how you can use your money saved – perhaps to travel or to tuck away for a rainy day.

Being an adult, it means being independent, being able to count on yourself to take care of yourself.

When we get older, we might have our own little family that we have to take care of – whether we like it or not. We might have to think of those who are dependent on us and those who may look to us for guidance. Being an adult, it involves personal sacrifices in order to help those around us, especially those closest to us.

Growing older and in the process of becoming an adult and being an adult, we face challenges and overcome them. Growing older, we gain experiences and a range of valuable lessons – we learn to be more rational and more open-minded in a sense. I suppose being an adult also means being all the more wiser than we once were at a point in our lives, swallowing our pride.

Sometimes I think of myself as an adult, and other times I don’t. I live in an apartment that I share with my brother. Sometimes my Chinese-Malaysian parents come over to cook for us (typical over-protective Asian parents…) but most of the time I cook for myself. I pay for my own groceries, phone bills and internet bills. I’ve done that for a few years now. Most days, I think I take care of myself very well.

However, there are many days where I feel taking care of myself is stressful. Working a 9-5 office job to pay the bills, I can’t help wishing more time to pursue my passion, writing (my office job has got nothing to do with this). Outside of work, I maintain a blog about all things multiculturalism and am currently working on my first book about being Asian in Australia. There are nights when I stay up until midnight blogging and writing, knowing very well I have to get up at 6am for work…and knowing I will be tired because of this choice. So some days, I don’t think I take care of myself very well and sort of tray from the responsibility of being a good employer and looking after my own health.

I haven’t thought about raising a family yet, and this is despite quite a few of my friends who are married and have their own kids already. To be honest, I still feel like a kid in many ways – when I have free time outside of work, I can enjoy it as opposed to looking after a kid. Over the last years, I’ve spent quite a lot of money on concert tickets. Recently I pondered my decision to do that: no reason why, and I enjoy live music. However, I couldn’t help but think that such moments can be fleeting and all that money could have gone towards my future.

When I graduated from university (with a bachelor’s and completing postgraduate right after that), I couldn’t find a job in the field of the written word or communications. Bills had to be paid and by that time, my parents had decided to stop giving me pocket money. It was then that I realised I cannot always depend on others…because there won’t always be someone around to take care of us and point us in the right direction.

But with that said, I really don’t think I am a ‘full-fledged adult’. While I am a dedicated office worker by day, I am also eagerly bent on pursuing my passion outside of my day job and at times will put aside my responsibility of paying my own bills and health in order to do so.

Growing up, I always wanted to well, grow up. When I was in primary school, I always thought that when I was in my twenties, I’d have a job that I love and enjoy life away from studying. Back then, I dreamt about working in a job where I was good at networking with others – a communications job in the realm of project management. Either that or working in radio production. The idea of ‘adult’ seemed fun – you get to do what you want to do; you get to do what you want to do with your own money and spare time. How naïve I was.

Fast forward to today. As a twenty-something person living in Melbourne, I am far from working my dream job. Also, my dream job is so different compared to what it used to be. I love writing, and it is my dream that I sell 1,000,000 copies of my published books at some point. It sort of sounds like a dream because well, not many writers have sold millions of books…

Being an adult, we learn to put up with curveballs in life and basically roll along with the punches. At times, pursuing our passion isn’t easy and passion doesn’t necessarily pay the bills or align with our future, bigger ‘life’ goals so to speak. Where can passion lead us? – that’s what the adult voice in my head often tells me.

Being an adult, you have to constantly think and plan ahead for your future. It really isn’t a matter of face. Often, it is a matter of survival.

With that said. I think you can still be a kid in some ways if you choose to. Balance, as some have told me: balance work and play/passion. As the saying goes, all work and no play makes one a dull person. At the end of the day, we need time for ourselves too, something that we look forward to. It could be passion. It could be something as simple as going to the cinema or going to our parents’ house for a home-cooked meal…and basically feel like a kid all over again.

– K, 20s, Writer


Being an adult is a lot of things. First you need to be above 18 years old.

I’d like to think that being an adult means that we get to do whatever we want – while also being aware of the consequences of those actions and be 100% responsible to them. Being an adult means you can hold yourself accountable, meaning you know how to take care of yourself, knowing when to make important decisions, knowing when to get help from others if times are tough, while also being able to take care of those important to you. Being an adult means you can take a lot of damage. You’ve experienced hard-hitting life evens. You’re able to bite bullets. Sail the rough seas when necessary. If there is one word that defines adults, it would be ‘responsibility’.

I am still 23 years old and I am new to this adulting thing, but I believe there is no such thing as becoming the ‘perfect adult’. Everyone has their own way of living and I am not in any place to tell them how they should live their lives. To answer the question, as far as my definition goes, yes I am an adult, just new to all these responsibilities things. I’ve just joined the party late last year, and it’s been a very enlightening journey so far and I’m looking forward for more.

– Clark, 23, Engineer Graduate


I don’t believe there is one single, concrete definition. But more than reaching a certain age or achieving self-sufficiency, I think being an adult is really just knowing who you are, and at the same time, having a strong awareness of others. That’s why you see so many Gen Yers, or even people from older generations, still acting seemingly childish, whether that’s by defining themselves by the latest trends or what their friends think, or by doing certain reckless or foolish things without regard for others, or whatever other manifestation that signals lack of self and others. I think everyone deals with insecurities at times or feels confused about where their life is heading. It’s not that adults always have it all together or never act immaturely or irresponsibly, but that they take responsibility for how their actions affect themselves and those around them. That takes courage and strength that even a lot of ‘grown-ups’ don’t possess all of the time. By accepting that you’re bound to slip up, or even regress in ‘adult-like’ ways, but that you are ultimately responsible for changing your life, also helps to understand what being an adult is.

Initially, I considered myself an adult when I became much less dependent on my parents. Although I did work a bit during my undergrad years, I still lived with my sisters (in a condo owned by my parents) and relied on my parents to pay for a lot of my expenses. Perhaps it was my Chinese mother’s stronger influence, but she always insisted to do our laundry, bring us food, and organise other details of our lives that I feel most ‘Western’ parents would not even think twice about doing for their 20-something year old children. I think that delayed my feeling of being an ‘adult’ for awhile. It wasn’t until I moved to Australia on my own that I truly felt independent and more grown up. I rented my own apartment, had to buy my own groceries, and God forbid, do my own laundry. For the first time, I felt that I was truly responsible for my own decisions and actions, and I really enjoyed it. As time went by, I no longer felt like I needed approval from my parents to do something, whether that be less significant decisions like going on a holiday or the far more consequential choice of staying in Melbourne to do my PhD. But even while I enjoyed this freedom, I realised my actions were sometimes selfish and downright childish, and not consistent with the type of person I wanted to be. For me, recognising this was the key to truly growing up. I don’t remember an exact moment this happened, but knowing when life involves making personal sacrifices was a key turning point. There have been times when I wanted to run away from sticky situations (be that relationships, work conflicts, or just general laziness). But I learned that being able to look beyond your immediate discomfort to see the longer-lasting impact on yourself and others, while simultaneously addressing underlying problems is a sign that you have the maturity and awareness of an adult.

– Katie, 29, PhD Graduate


In my honest opinion, being an adult for me is when you are finally reached a stage in your life where you are not only thinking about yourself, but you will try to put people in your surrounding – your friends, your families – first; you will try to learn to understand them, learn their minuses and pluses in order to simply have a better relationship and avoid conflicts or unnecessary fights or arguments. All of those with the responsibilities in life will help to shape you into a mature person, in other words, for me, an adult. Many people think that they will automatically be adults when they get a job, or when they finally reached the legal age of 21, but for me it is more not just that. The country (place) I came from, think that when you’re finally getting married, then you will finally be an adult. But I’ve seen how many marriages ended soon after. It’s not they are too young or not old enough, it’s because they only think about the ‘wedding’ not the ‘marriage’ itself. They are not adult (mature) enough to talk to each other about everything – what you like, what you don’t like – and if I happen to do something that someone didn’t like, will I apologise first, or will I just wait there hoping he/she will come to me first to apologise for being angry at me, or will both individuals just ignore it and let it sit and slowly turning into a time bomb in our relationship that is ready to detonate and explode anytime? We might have different approaches in talking, getting connected to people, or how we solve a problem, but I think the big difference between ‘non-adult’ and ‘adult’ is being an adult (mature) and putting the others before you.

I will consider myself as an adult. And the first time I thought I was an adult was when I was in my 3rd year in Melbourne and the 7th year I’ve lived in other countries by myself. At first, I thought being independent and being able to do everything myself will make me an adult. Only after I got back to my home country and started working, I realised that I was lucky to be able to live abroad for 8 years by myself. I will say that all those responsibilities I have to do when I lived alone are a major factor that shapes me into who I am now. But on top of those responsibilities I have during my working time, I started to add the view I have mentioned earlier. I used to think the company owned by my father is entirely built by him. His hard work and his ideas are what brings this company till the point we’re currently at right now. But I started to see that it’s not entirely correct. Without all the workers we have, my dad would never see all his children working and trying to continue and preserve his legacy right now. So since then, I try to be respectful to all my staff and colleagues, not only because they are much older than me – having work even before I was born – but also to simply show my gratitude for contributing to the company which allowed us all enjoy our lives. I personally never even think myself as an adult until many of my relatives and colleagues told me, which at first I wasn’t really taking seriously. They said things like, ‘You have become an adult right now’, ‘You have grown so much’. I used to think, ‘Have I really turned into an adult?’ After pondering long and hard for 2 years about all of what I just told you just now, now I guess I have.

If there’s anything to add, maybe some of you are thinking that being old and being an adult is somewhat the same. But I will tell you now that it isn’t. I’m pretty sure you have heard what I’ll say many times before, but this is what I believe and always believe: ‘You will get old, but it doesn’t mean you will be mature as you aged.’ You may be old enough to work, or old enough to get married, but only by being adult (mature) human being, you can be successful in your work, in your marriage, and in almost anything you do. Being old doesn’t mean you will be successful, being an adult will. I only hope my opinions won’t hurt you or your feelings, but I really hope this will at least help to grasp the true meaning of adulthood. I’m not an expert, but let’s all learn together!

– Hendy, 22, Service Manager


For me, being an adult means the stage of life where we are fully responsible for our actions and therefore deal with the consequences – in every aspect of life, eg. finances.

It also means having mature judgment to make responsible decision and being independent. Yes, I consider myself as an adult, though maturity is different thing.

– Tirza, 26, Tax Accountant


This is actually a really difficult question. I don’t actually understand what being an adult means. I think, being an adult means you are able to make decisions, understand the consequences of your decisions, and able to take responsibility of the consequences. We make decisions every single time and a lot of times, some of the decisions might be the trivial ones, or the ‘important life-changing decisions’. For me, being an adult is to understand and to fully realise the importance of the decisions that are made. They all have consequences and it will not just affect the decision-maker himself but quite possibly the people around him.

I don’t know if I consider myself an adult. This question actually makes me ponder if adulthood is a stage that you can actually achieve and tick off in your stages of life, or if it is actually a long journey and process that you need to keep pursuing for the rest of your life. I guess at this point we have agreed that age doesn’t determine if someone is an adult. But I think the question is, will we ever be adults? Or will we always continuously be processed to be an adult? I have made a lot of trivial and life-changing decisions. I might or might not understand all the consequences that I have made. A lot of times I have accepted and taken responsibilities out of my decisions. But, human is not perfect and there are some times, some events, and some decisions that I have made recklessly. Does that make me not an adult? Maybe I am not an adult yet. Maybe it is a long, unending journey that I will not be able to reach. Or maybe I just see the whole ‘being an adult means’ wrongly.

– L, 23, Analyst


Being an adult means being mature enough to be able to accept responsibilities and consequences of own decisions. Of course [I consider myself an adult]! When I graduated from university and entered workplace.

– Eliana, 35, University Advisor


In my opinion, being an adult is the time when people could START to be fully responsible in everything they do. Other than that, I think being an adult also means they have personal belief or strong principle in life.

To be honest, I do not consider myself as an adult, cause I am still relying on my parents to financing myself. Also, I am still not sure what I am going to do once I graduated. However, I do consider myself growing up and walking towards being a more mature adult.

– Joanne, 20, Psychology Student