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]

The adult, that elusive creature! I know one when I see one from a distance, but when I get closer it disappears.

My sister and I have had a running dialogue about what qualifies a person as an adult. 18? 21? Graduation? No. Marriage? Baby? Nope. Independent living? Holding a job? No. No. No.

We’ve landed on home ownership. It must be home ownership! But I suspect as soon as we or our close friends take this one on we will scratch it from the list and continue our search. When we’re up close and personal with these milestones it becomes apparent that these things do not make adults. They couldn’t, just look around us! Are these a bunch of adults? No, no, no, these are our friends. It’s just the same old us! We’ve not magically changed into that mysterious species yet. Someday it’s bound to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Maybe it will help my search to look to the opposite extreme, take a look at some actual children – and would you look at that! They don’t do what I do! I pack my own lunch! I’ve given up caffeine for years at a time! Sometimes I floss! I guess I’m an adult after all… But – do I overuse exclamation points? My hair, it’s is so long and unruly. My jeans, so skinny – I doubt myself.

Again, I step back. I’m taking care of my life, my needs, and those of others. I am not controlled (entirely) by my appetites. I am an adult, so why am I so hesitant to feel like one? How many more badges do I need before it sinks in? Maybe this one from the gloss will do the trick?

I suspect I don’t feel like an adult because it’s not something one feels at all, akin to when people ask on your birthday, “So, how does it feel to be [insert new age here]?” It doesn’t feel any different. (Right? I’m not missing out on something great here am I?). I didn’t feel like a child when I was one, yet for some reason I seem to be expecting some paradigm shift within myself to say confidently that I am an adult, I can feel it.

Likely the search for a real live 100% adult has been in vain from the start. I’ve read a few psychology books in my day which would affirm that there is no such thing. The adult is an aspect of ourselves, rational and responsible. Hopefully it’s my mode of action most days of the week, but I have my inner child too, and she is awesome. I’d say as long as the child is mostly an inner child and the adult manages to move my limbs and take care of business, I can wear my big-girl badge on whatever old t-shirt I please without fear of fraud.

Today, I woke up early, cleaned some things. packed lunches for myself, my partner and our our son, went to work. I’ll return, cook dinner, put our son to bed. I’ll be done working this job on Friday, move my family around the world with the money we’ve worked hard to save in order to work on living more happily in the lifestyle of our choosing. Still, recently my days have felt very routine. Even the upcoming adventure seems extensively planned. Routines and planning sound like the hallmarks of adult life, but there’s got to be more to it.

You know, maybe I was wrong about not feeling adulthood. Amidst the bustle of managing my daily life, writing this article has felt like the most adult thing I’ve done recently.

When I came across the open invitation to write this essay I was intrigued because I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at internet writing for a while, yet immediately I was confronted with opposition from within my own head: I don’t have time. I’m too much of a perfectionist/procrastinator. I’m not psychologically ready to have my name associated with any original creation that will come up when you google me – not this week at least – maybe if I come up with a good pen name? I’ll never be able to decide on a pen name… What if I end up saying something that offends [insert anyone I know here]? Maybe it’s not the perfect first step…

Then I realized these thoughts were coming from the scared woman-child within me and I must not let them win. I’m an adult conquering my childish fears and I can feel it. I’ll earn my badge this week, but I’m not doing it for the badge. Adults don’t do things for badges and gold stars. I’m doing it for myself. I’m taking another step deeper into the world of adulthood, an engaging world of openness, fearlessness and independence.