50 signs that don’t necessarily show you’re a grown up

Yet another birthday is fast approaching and whilst the prospect of getting to enjoy all of the things that birthdays entail (cake, celebratory dinner and lots of special treatment because I’m super spoilt) is exciting, I’m apparently now reaching that stage when people start implying that edging towards 30 somehow makes me a real grown up.
Which made me start to think about what makes someone a grown up or not (especially when they’ve been an adult for nearly a decade.
So I did what everyone does and asked Google how you know when you’re a grown up. It came up with this Telegraph article which reports on a survey done by Skipton Building Society and lists the 50 signs you are a grown up (based on a survey of 2000 people).
Apparently the research indicated that most people don’t feel like a proper grown up until they are at least 26 years old. I’m not sure whether or not I feel like a grown up yet but I do know that I don’t necessarily agree with the things that are supposed to make me one.

So here are my thoughts on the signs that are supposed to show you’re a grown up, how they apply to me and why they aren’t necessarily signs of being a grown up:
1. Having a mortgage 

Not so much a sign that you’re a grown up, more a sign that you have a large enough income to afford a mortgage and also have enough money for a deposit, stamp duty land tax, mortgage arrangement fee, solicitors’ fees, etc etc.

Dare to dream with house prices in London. I might never be a grown up if this is a key criterion.

2. Mum and dad no longer make your financial decisions 

I’m not sure (other than with childhood savings accounts) that anyone has made financial decisions for me. Of course I was financially dependent for a long time until I was old enough to work and go to university but I’m pretty sure I’ve always had a say in what I do with the little money I have and from when I left home at eighteen they were definitely my decisions to make, isn’t that the same for most people? Or do people really still have their parents make their financial decisions even into their twenties?

3. Paying into a pension

With auto-enrollment this should now be becoming more of a norm than some kind of big indicator that you have levelled up to grown up status.

4. Conducting a weekly food shop 

Quite apart from the fact that I live only three minutes away from a big Sainsbury’s and pass two Tescos on my walk home and so can pop into a shop whenever I like with ease, unless you have a car or several pairs of hands to carry all of the bags, doing a full weekly shop is just not possible (I blame all those bottles of wine) because who has time to wait around for an online shop to be delivered?

5. Written a Will

Only relevant if you have assets and dependants, it’s not a sign that you’re not a grown up if you don’t have one. Personally, the intestacy rules will do what I want right now for the minimal assets I have.

6. Having children 

Remember those people you knew from school who ended up pregnant before the age of 18? Was that a sign they were grown ups?

7. Budgeting every month 

Sticking to one would be a better sign of being a group up, anyone can prepare a budget. I always budget, but very rarely stick to it.

8. Being able to cook an evening meal from scratch 

Firstly, what is an evening meal? How is it different from any other meal? Also, if being able to cook a meal from scratch is a sign of being a grown up then the bar’s been set pretty low.

9. Getting married

Actually a sign that you’ve been lucky to find someone that you are happy to let pull the plug if needs be. Some people never find that person (and are perfectly happy with that), they’re still grown ups.

10. Having life insurance 

Again, as with a will, only necessary if you have dependents (or a mortgage I think), otherwise, you can be a grown-up without it.

11. Recycling

Because only grown ups care about the environment?!

12. Having a savings account

I’ve had a savings account since I was a baby. I had one as a pre-teen that I put money into and have had one since. It’s not really a grown up thing now is it?

13. Knowing what terms like ‘ISA’ and ‘tracker’ mean

Tick. Although I’m with Martin Lewis on thinking that schools should deliver basic financial education. Everyone should know this stuff, it shouldn’t be a sign of being a grown up.

14. Watching the news 

Watching the news? In the age of the internet and Twitter? Also I’ve been doing this since I was a child, it didn’t make me a grown up then and it doesn’t now.

15. Owning a lawn mower 

Are you kidding me? I don’t have any outside space, let alone a garden and now you’re telling me that this is a sign suggesting I might not be a grown up? I live in Central London AND I have hayfever, cutting grass in summer might finish me off.

16. Doing your own washing

Bunging it all in with a liquitab isn’t really that tricky, is it? Not exactly a grown up thing.

17. Taking trips to the local tip 

I live in London, I have no idea if there even are local tips here and even if there are I’d have to carry whatever I wanted to get rid of there (or get it on the Tube, worse). Does London not exist for the people who write these lists and decide on how you know if you’re a grown up or not?

18. Planting flowers

I suppose I could have a window box but where would I store compost, bulbs, a trowel etc? Space and outside space seem to be preventing me from being a grown up.

19. Being able to bleed a radiator

I imagine this is like knowing where the stopcock is. My grandad has always drilled into me that I should know where my stopcock is when I move into a new house. I’ve never had to know and given that we didn’t even have to put our heating on once this winter, I doubt very much that I need to know how to bleed a radiator.

20. Having a joint bank account 

Having a joint bank account requires you to trust someone financially and have met someone who you don’t mind being linked to financially. All great in an ideal world but there’s nothing childish about having separate bank accounts or wanting to protect your credit rating if your partner’s isn’t good.

21. Having a view on politics 

It’s funny but when I was at school and too young to vote, I was passionate about politics. I had strong views and could defend those in an argument, I knew which party I was most aligned to. I continued that interest throughout university until I went on my semester abroad in my third year. Being out of the country (and having a whole load of fun), I lost touch with UK politics. I came back to England four months later and found that nothing had changed. Politicians were arguing over the same things, making the same empty promises, taking no action. I became disillusioned and lost all interest. I suppose in a way that’s a view, but I sort of think that the older you get, the more you realise that politics isn’t action or change, it’s far too political to really effect any sort of positive change on our country.

You don’t have to be a grown up to have a view on politics and I think you can still be a grown up without a view on it (in my opinion, having a view it makes little difference either way).

22. Keeping track of interest rates 

I’m vaguely aware of them but I know I can’t change them or do anything about them. I don’t have a mortgage so it doesn’t change anything for me save for the amount that my savings earn.

Other than people with mortgages, do people properly keep track of this stuff?

23. Finding a messy house annoying

I think you either do or don’t, it’s in your nature. So unless the annoyance at having a messy flat suddenly kicks in when I hit the big 3-0, I’m not sure it’s going to happen. It’s nice to have a tidy flat but generally a lot of effort to get it that way and keep it that way. I have better things to be doing.

24. Being able to change a light bulb 

Can some people really not do this?

25. Owning a vacuum cleaner 

I made it until about the age of 27 without owning a vacuum cleaner, which was the result of a combination of living in shared houses where there was a communal vacuum cleaner, or because I had laminate floors I could mop or because I lived close enough to my mum that I could borrow hers if absolutely necessary.

The other year I bought a Dyson and I’m not sure that it makes me a grown up, but if that’s what people want to believe it says about me, then fine.

26. Holding dinner parties 

Haha! Try having a dinner party for more than four people in my flat, any more people an they’ve be eating off their knees in a corner and dinner for four is just dinner, it’s not really a party.

27. Listening to Radio 2

Not enough songs for me. Although I can’t sing to save my life, I will do so at the top of my voice in the kitchen when I’m making dinner. I listen to the radio for songs, not commentary. A child I will remain.

28. Enjoying gardening

I have no garden, I am gardenless, so unless I were to start some guerilla gardening then I don’t even have the opportunity to do it, let alone enjoy it.

29. Spending weekend just ‘pottering’ 

If by ‘pottering’ you mean spending the weekend on the sofa flicking between TV and Netflix and eating Nutella by the spoonful from the jar, then I have this down and am a grown up. If not, then I’m really not sure what you mean.

30. Mum starts asking you for advice 

Why do people in this survey think only mum would be asking for advice? Bit sexist, no?

31. Carrying spare shopping bags just in case 

I have a handbag the size of a small child, anything I need to carry can go in there. If it can’t then a carrier bag won’t help me.

32. Like going round garden centres 

Really pointless if (as mentioned many times already) you don’t have a garden! What is the obsession with gardening in this list?

33. Wearing coats on a night out 

This has always depended on what the night out entails – bar hopping (no), walking into town to the pub (yes). It’s not a grown up thing to want to be warm, surely.

34. Going to bed before 11pm 

Because I have to or because I want to? The two are very different things.

I’m a night owl and would happily go to bed at 2am every night. The realities of having a full-time job though mean that if I want to get the amount of sleep I need to not be a complete grump, then I sometimes do have to go to bed before 11pm.

35. Making sure mum and dad are phoned at least once a week 

As if it’s a favour to them? I keep in touch and go home because I want to, not out of some daughterly duty.

36. Classing work as a career rather than a job 

My work (whether in a temporary capacity or not) has always been part of a career plan. I’m now in my chosen career but I have friends who have jobs. They are happy to just have jobs, they don’t necessarily want to spend their time negotiating office politics, seeking out mentors and sponsors, going over and above in order to get to the next stage of their career, they want to do a 9-5 job which pays them enough to live comfortably, go on holiday and that’s it. It’s a choice we all make. One isn’t more grown up than the other.

37. Repairing torn clothing rather than throwing it away 

Really? I thought that part of the luxury of being a grown up was either paying someone to mend it for you (my hamfisted sewing is worse than throwing the thing away) or being able to buy a replacement. To be fair, the only ungrown up thing to do is to continue to wear it even if it’s torn because you can’t be bothered or afford to repair/replace it.

38. You iron

I’ve always done thing if I have to (I’m hardly going to turn up to work or a job interview with a crumpled shirt am I?) but I’m never going to iron things that don’t have to be ironed (bedding, socks, etc). Not being a grown up, just being presentable.

39. You wash up immediately after eating 

My boyfriend does. This doesn’t make me a grown up, this makes me awesome.

40. Enjoy cooking 

Is enjoying cooking really a sign? Surely this is just a personal preference.

41. Buying a Sunday paper 

Sunday is the best day for papers, they’re full of glossy supplements. I think that makes me a superficial child rather than a grown up.

42. Always going out with a sensible pair of shoes

If you can’t make it through a night in the pair of shoes you’re going out in, don’t go out in them, that’s my view. Having to carry around a spare pair of shoes (and then your original ones when you switch) is just ridiculous.

43. You like receiving gift vouchers

I have always loved receiving gift vouchers. When I was little my favourite thing in the world to get for a birthday was a £5 WH Smith or Waterstones voucher so that I could go and choose a book that I really wanted. It felt like having money, having power. My own decision. So maybe this does make you a grown up, but I’m not sure why it isn’t a universal thing.

44. Work keeps you awake at night 

This isn’t a sign you’re a grown up, this is a sign that you need another job, one that doesn’t keep you awake at night.

45. Filing post 

Uhh, where? I keep things like council tax statements but other than that, post gets filed in the bin. Where else am I supposed to put it? It’s mostly Barclaycard trying to get me to do a balance transfer to them anyway, spam.

46. Having a ‘best’ crockery set

My nan and grandad have a ‘best’ crockery set that they got for their wedding that they have apparently barely, if ever, used because apparently they aren’t dishwasher safe. I’d rather have a ‘worst’ crockery set that gets used than one that sits in a cupboard and takes up space just so I can look like a grown up.

47. Being able to change a car tyre

I don’t have a car (Central London) but I do get breakdown cover with my bank account – other than so I could get some sort of grown up Brownie badge, why would I need to be able to do this?

48. Being sensible enough to remove make up off before bedtime

Never ever going to happen. I don’t even want to. Write me off as a child right now.

49. Being able to follow a receipt

What’s to follow? Surely a better sign would be the ability to work out the best way of splitting a bill when half the people eating are drinking alcohol, half aren’t, some have had desserts and some have had wine and a dessert. The ultimate grown up challenge in my opinion.

50. Owning ‘best towels’ as well as ‘everyday towels’

‘Best towels’?! Is this really a thing? Please tell me this isn’t a thing. I thought towels were just towels. Maybe this is actually the key to being grown up, knowing that ‘best towels’ are a thing and then actually having them….
If we’re going on this list then I think I can safely say that based the signs that 2000 people think make you a grown up, I am not.

Are you? What do you think makes you a grown up?

  • disqus_k8R8UmI9Bk

    Ok I’ll admit I had to look up a few definitions…and on the whole I don’t think I will feel like a grown up for a long time. Having said that, I feel older than I did a couple of years ago, most definitely. I think it is mostly to do with your perspective on the world, given through experience and life-changing events/tragedy etc. I have to say though that I did used to go on a night out without a coat when younger for purely shallow reasons…nowadays I’m always carrying/wearing layers and a coat just in case! 🙂 Bee xxx

  • I really enjoyed reading this list, was interesting to see how much of the list I do! I’m not sure anyone ever feels like a grownup? I have friends who are in their late 30s/early 40s, married, with a mortgage and kids and some of them say they don’t feel like a grownup! x

  • Hannah Cornish

    At 26 I don’t think I’d feel like a grown up! I’m 18 years old now and the thought of being a fully fledged adult kinda scares me! At this age, I see an adult as some 30+, has a career, partner/family/house etc, but perhaps that’s changed now xx

    Hannas’ UK Beauty | Lifestyle blog
    @ hannatalks

  • Melanie

    FOREVER YOUNG!! A few years ago I went from job to traveling and repeat. Now, I have a career, a mortgage, wash the dishes consistently and love to sleep… But then in a few years I might be traveling the world again working freelance to eat. For me being a grown up isn’t ticking off a list of things, but perhaps being comfortable in where my life is headed and feeling (vaguely) in control of that. Anyway, bring out the late twenties!

  • Sofie

    This list is crazy. I’m turning 24 in 2 months, but I don’t feel like a grown up at all (even though I love to cook, haha). And I don’t think that in two years time that will change. I don’t think there’s an age to being an adult. It’s different for everyone. Many of my friends are younger but yet way more grown up than myself. I think that being responsible and being independent to me are the things that make you grown up.

    Sofie x
    Little green Sofie

  • I agree that it’s about perspective on the world rather than about a checklist of things to have or have done.

    I think I’ve always had a coat though unless literally going from one pub to the bar next door to the club two door down but I get cold very easily!

  • You aren’t one of those who owns ‘best towels’ are you?!

  • That’s a great perspective on the whole thing. I hope to get to the vaguely in control stage soon!

  • I’ve had friends who I’ve felt are grown up from about the age of about 20 when at the same age I was floundering hopelessly, although I’m sure they’d say the same about me, I think it’s all about perceptions in some ways. I definitely don’t think there’s a set age though and if there is, I’m not sure 26 is it.