This is a reader submission for our Big Girl Badge week. Tell us how you evolved from woman-child to woman, and you could win hundreds of dollars of prizes! (Send your 800 word submissions to Jennifer [at] or Ashley [at]

I have been a long time proponent of calling bullshit on the idea of adult badges. I’m of the opinion that people check these arbitrary things, these acquisitions, off made up checklists without really understanding why or whether or not they need them. These things either fall into one of two categories for me personally: people trying to one up on another (“oh, you paid off your credit card debt? I bought a house!”) or people just figuring out the MOST BASIC of things (“OMG I FINALLY UNDERSTAND WINDEX!”).

It is with great reluctance, then, that I share with you the two big girl badges I earned this year. They both fall into the latter category mentioned above. And while they’re probably just things that other adults have always done? I’m SUPER proud of myself for finally figuring this crap out and, frankly, I would like some sort of validation for these completely surmountable hurdles.

First badge: Eating three square meals a day. Oh you’ve been doing this forever? Congratulations. You’re either rich or you live with your parents or you own a future machine that makes all your meals for you on demand (see also: you are rich). For most of my 20s I lived in Los Angeles and worked crazy hours for next to no money. My diet consisted primarily of whatever I could get at the 99 cent store, bomb ass Coffee Bean drinks and vodka. When I felt like treating myself I would order pizza from this crazy expensive place on 3rd street. Most often this was at 2am and I only ate ½ a slice before passing out face first in a box the size of my bed.

But now I’m 31. I simply can’t handle that lifestyle anymore, as much as I wish I could (that pizza was incredible after all). I have a serious job that requires me to be focused and present and all of that responsible nonsense. So I pack my lunch and some snacks the night before and grab an egg wrap for breakfast. When I come home, my boyfriend has usually started our dinner (for the record, living with an incredible cook has really helped this whole THREE SQUARES jam significantly). All of my meals consist of a lean protein and at least one vegetable. Any leftovers are incorporated into the next day’s lunch and repeated until Saturday when I treat myself to a croissant and a full fat latte with approximately a ¼ cup of sugar for breakfast.

Do you guys understand the significance that? I’m eating vegetables. I’m not pulling a lean cuisine out of the fridge every night and finishing it off with some leftover chardonnay. I’m actively planning out our weekly shopping trips so that we have enough veggies and meats to last the week. I think we’ve purchased maybe 3 frozen pizzas this year. These maybe small steps for you but they’re giant steps for my lazy ass.

Which brings me to my next badge: Clean dishes, clean sink, can’t lose. I was always one of those people who had dishes piled to the ceiling. It occasionally got to the point where I wastefully threw out perfectly good (ok, purchased from goodwill) dishes rather than cleaning off whatever was left on them. It was just all so overwhelming. Of course, I denied this inability to clean out a sink after a meal to all the roommates who accused me of being THAT PERSON. But I’m being real here. I was gross and lazy. Sorry, ex roomies!

A dishwasher was the first step in curbing this behavior. The next step was realizing how much I loved waking up early to a quiet apartment, padding over to my clean counter and making a nice cup of coffee in my clean kitchen. The simple joy of experiencing my kitchen completely clean in the morning and not stressing over a pile of dishes or pans in the sink illuminated a light bulb over my head. If I cleaned up my messes, rather than avoiding them in the hope that they would eventually go away, I would be able to enjoy my life more.

That is the larger take-away from my adult badge experience. There is always going to be a never ending parade of damn near torturous “to-do’s “(confronting a long overdue bill or dusting the floorboards or going to the dentist to finally get that crown replaced or dragging yourself to a CARDIO MANIA class at the gym) but if you just grit your teeth and get down to it, you’ll be able to smile more, take a deep breath and enjoy your life more.