They call being responsible and truly grown up “adulting.” I see people who think of themselves as adults everyday, but sometimes they are only emotional toddlers stomping around demanding others make their life easier.

The 10 signs I look for are small and often overlooked, but as far as I am concerned they tell me a great deal about an individual’s maturity level. Here are my top ten signs someone is an adult:

1. Adults Make Their Bed Every Day

I know this sounds silly, but it starts the day off with an accomplishment and as an added bonus it rewards us at the end of our day with a made up bed. Our Intern wrote a article about the importance of making your bed. Making your bed everyday may not be easy, but nothing adults do is easy.

2. Adults Finish What They Start

From putting the clean clothes away to painting the baseboard. “Children start projects, but adults finish them.” I have heard it said, “When you are stuck for an answer find the nearest finish line and cross it.” It can be anything from wiping the fingerprints off the front door to returning a DVD to the RedBox to  putting your grocery cart back. Once some of my grown-up kids discovered the good feeling of crossing finish lines they started looking for them everywhere. They stopped starting a new project every weekend and started looking instead for projects to complete.

3. Adults Are On Time

Ask any boss what is important to them. Simple stuff, like being on time every day. Yes, life is busy and we can all over schedule ourselves. That is one reason I love the slogan, “Keep It Simple.” If I can’t make it to places on time it is often a sign for me to stop trying to please too many people. Being on time, every time, to everything, will put someone miles ahead of someone who is constantly “running late.”

4. Adults Don’t Come Empty Handed

Even if they have little to offer,  adults will find a  way to share something. I often look to see if my children remember to bring something when they are invited to a celebration. For Thanksgiving one year my daughter was flat broke, but she stopped and bought an off-brand of soda to share. It costs her $.50, but showed that she was thinking of others even during her own hard times. She was only 19 years old, and her siblings were impressed that she contributed what she could. I have seen adults stop and pick flowers if they had nothing else to bring. Adults think of others and reflect that with their actions.

5. Adults Pick Up After Themselves And Others

My kids were like so many others when they were teens, just close the door and hope for better days. Well, they aren’t kids anymore and how they keep their places tells a lot about their ability to manage their life. While cleaning up after ourselves makes sense to most people, even harder is the idea of picking up after someone else. Walking down a beach and finding litter left by a total stranger is fairly common. My friend is great about picking up litter others have thrown down. I try hard to adopt his attitude of remembering the higher good is to have a cleaner environment. Messes are a part of life. Cleaning up after ourselves and others is a big part of being an adult. Our town has a clean up day every year. It was where I first learned the importance of cleaning up after others.

6. Adults Know How To Manage Money

Adults understand the concept of delayed gratification. I like to think  my children are in control of their money and not panicked because they forgot to look before buying an item they felt they “had to have.” Adults keep track of where the money goes and more than that they tell their money where to go. I am still trying to be better with my money, but I know starting with a goal of knowing where it is keeps me in touch with my limitations and helps me avoid financial drama.

7. An Adult Know How To Argue

Grown Ups find ways to compromise with each other. Adults allow others to finish what they are saying. Adults don’t always agree, but they know it is important that everyone feels heard. To avoid a heated argument they can say, “You may be right.” With this attitude, adults look for common ground and focus on finding solutions. Being level headed, tolerant,  and calm is a welcome characteristic in today’s world.

8. Adults Know How To Entertain Themselves

Children fuss when life is boring. Adults enjoy the opportunity to let their brain decompress. Adults don’t need constant stimulation and understand that quiet is a rare gift in our often over-stimulated culture. They embrace the quiet and are simply patient or find something to occupy themselves with until the situation changes.

9. Adults Return The Things They Borrow

Adults return things they borrowed in better condition than when they received them. How many times in my youth did I return something I had accidentally broken while using and thought an apology was sufficient. Eventually I learned if I broke it I would need to buy a replacement. Adults take borrowed clothes to the dry cleaners before returning them. They wash the car and fill it with gasoline before returning it. They know the owner risked trusting them and want to show appreciation for that trust. This also helps get a yes the next time you need to borrow something from a friend.

10. Finally, Adults Don’t Constantly Complain

They accept life on life’s terms. Adults have survived bad teachers, bad bosses, and bad days. They have learned words of gratitude can pause their desire to bitch and moan about everything that doesn’t go their way. I pay close attention to what my children do when they have a job or college class they don’t like. It can be a real marker of where they are on the road to maturity.

I would like to think my adult children are making progress toward becoming fully developed adults, but only time will tell. Too many times in our culture today there seems to be a  disconnect between being of service to our fellow man and being served. The good news is it is never too late to grow up.


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Nadine Knapp

I was born into a large Catholic Family of 14 children in Upstate New York. I graduated with my degree in Professional and Technical Writing from University of South Florida. My recovery story began when I witnessed addiction in close relatives and friends. Unable to change them I began to focus on what I could change, me. Building a support system for myself I now strive daily to keep the focus on me. In my articles I sometimes share stories from my own experience, strength, and hope. It is my hope that others will find courage to see "the elephant in the room" and seek out help for themselves against this cunning,baffling,and powerful disease.

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