How To Appear Grown-Up When You Feel Anything But That

According to my parents, I suffer from Peter Pan syndrome. In other words, that are less colorful and are not associated with a fabulous place called Neverland: I refuse to grow up and assume the responsibilities that come with it. Are they correct in this? No! (Read: Yes!) Do I have a defense? Of course!

As a single woman in New York City who is without children and an office 9 to 5 job, I pretty much do whatever I damn well want. I could say that I’m the same person I was in college except I don’t have an 8am Anthropology class to skip and ultimately fail, but that’s not entirely true. I have evolved since those days in a few ways that include no longer consuming Top Ramen on a daily basis and I no longer dye my hair every color under the sun when my mood calls for it. Personally, I feel that these are big steps for someone who got a tattoo on her wrist at 20 years old so as to make sure that I never fell into the corporate world and always stayed “young” even when the wrinkles started. I blame this thinking on having read too much Oscar Wilde who championed youth and beauty as if it’s the greatest thing in the world. And is it not?

The day I noticed my very first grey hair two years ago while trying on clothes in a dressing room the sobs that followed were close to uncontrollable, so to make up for it I marched out and got another tattoo. Not that a tattoo was going to make up for the grey hair that my both my friend and I feverishly tried to rip from my head that day, but it was at least “something” I thought would help stave off the impending doom of aging which involves, of course, growing up.

However, in the past year I’ve decided I want to appear more grown-up, even if you look slightly under the surface I’m far from it. I think this feeling is coming from my younger sister (by only 16 months) who is married with two children, a new Volvo, a brand new home — that they own — and this sense of security that comes with things like a full savings account and the responsibility for a life other than your own. There’s also the fact that many of my friends no longer want to meet at 11pm to go out and have fun; no, they want to have dinner at 7pm and be in bed by 11pm. Although it’s a difficult transition for me and some days, I find myself resenting them for it, I’m doing my best to actually adhere to this new phase in my life. Unlike Peter Pan I don’t have a Neverland to escape to, and unlike Dorian Gray, I have yet to be asked by a sinister entity to trade my soul for my youth. Although you better believe if either option were available, I’d go for it.

I’m no expert, of course, but here are a few things I’ve implemented that seem to have fooled people into thinking that I “think” I’m an adult, or at the very least, I have embraced the inevitable.

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    • muguet

      I got my first grey hair two years ago as well. For a while I stoppedd dying my hair and keep the grey hair just to remind myself about my mortality. Nowadays I pluck the shit out of my 4-5 grays!

    • Kj

      In my family, we don’t get grey hair – we cut right to the chase and get white hair. That said, mine is coming in in what looks like a streak on one side, so I can cover it up pretty easily or part it at the streak to look kinda cool. Who knows how I’ll feel about it in 10 years.

      Anyways, being grown up is overrated. Most of the time it’s just code for “boring.”

    • G

      I only do 5 out of 8 of those. But I’m only 24 so I have some time. I DID buy my first cast iron pan, and a spatula that could kill a man from Crate and Barrel. Suddenly I’m cooking stuff without wondering “Is that pepper or Teflon?” So I guess that’s good…for longevity and stuff.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Oh, I’m still in the “pepper or Teflon?” phase. I’m still wondering how much Teflon my body can handle before I just up and die one day mid-sentence…

    • Kay

      I think we found my first white hair when I was five.

    • Elemenopee

      Can someone please write an article about the inverse? I’m 39 years old and I look about 22… LUCKY! so many people tell me, yeah except when when everyone thinks I’m the new intern at my firm. Oh, and it certainly doesn’t help work in a male-dominated industry where the majority are are around 50 and can’t seem to treat me like the ‘cute kid that’s still trying to break in the biz’. Wearing professional ‘grown-up’ clothes is tricky since I can easily look like I’m playing dress-p with my mom’s wardrobe. I’ve found a good middle ground where I look serious enough for business but perhaps I can come across like a hipster trying to sport a preppie look. I don’t know if a anything can be done with my 5’2″ 100 lb frame, but if there’s anyone out there who know, be sure to let me know.

    • MR

      My girlfriend is very grown-up – granted she and I are both older than you. She says to me the first night: Are you a guy who’s got a plan, and is there a serious relationship with a woman in it? Next she asks me: Do you consider the woman you’re having sex with to also be your girlfriend? Right on and on the same wavelength, and we’ve been doing fine ever since. I think the upside of being more grown-up is you attract more grown-up men. Of course after you come back from Paris. :)

      • MR

        PS. On the the hair pulling. My girlfriend’s hair is auburn. She told me she gave up pulling along time ago, she colorsilks it. It looks nice.