Big Q: When Did You First Feel Like an Adult?

We asked readers when they first felt like an adult. Check out these charming, sincere, humorous, and genuine milestones of adulthood.

When I was first called “Pastor” by folks in my church. The truth is, I am not sure I feel like an adult now! My dad on his deathbed at eighty-six said he still felt twenty-nine—he just didn’t know what had happened to his body. I loved that.

Mark Novak, 64
Seattle, Washington

When they let me stay in the pool for adult swim.

Samuel Luttrell, 18
Wichita, Kansas

When I realized there were players in the NBA draft younger than I am.

Lev Akabas, 20
New York City, New York

When I realized that we were the senior missionaries in our team in Medellín, Colombia, and people expected us to know the answers to all sorts of questions. We were in our late thirties and realized that people were looking to us for leadership.

Margie Swenson, 67
Chicago, Illinois

When I carried a purse to visit my mom at her job downtown. I took the 147 Express by myself and took my bus pass out of my purse and then sat with my purse on my lap. I was nine, and felt like seriously hot stuff. I’ve never been able to duplicate that feeling.

Carmen Rodriguez, 48
Chicago, Illinois

When I was fourteen, my dad asked me to drive the pickup with my brothers along to pick up bales of hay in a field before it rained. I felt so important—until I ran over a bale and got the pickup stuck!

Jeanine Pumphrey, 61
Wichita, Kansas

When I signed my first lease.

Genesis Soto, 21
Phoenix, Arizona

As an only child, I sometimes felt like I was born an adult. But I never really felt grown up until my father died. I was fifty-four.

Mollie Sudhoff, 60
Glencoe, Illinois

Probably when I was around twelve years old or so. I was the oldest of six, and if I didn’t cook we didn’t eat.

Seth Domach, 39
Helena, Montana

Year one of my life as a single dad. I was twenty-four. 

William Mack, 38
Louisville, Kentucky

When I traveled by myself to Glasgow from Edinburgh for a day. I felt so independent and excited to be on my own in a big, international city. I think I was twenty-three. I probably felt like an adult before that, but this is my first, vivid memory of feeling grown up and liking it.

Lauren Johnson, 30
Gunnison, Colorado

The first time I thought “Wow, I’m an adult” was when I was grocery shopping at college. Then I got a jury summons in the mail, and I realized, “I’m actually an adult.”

Natalie Mobley, 19
Chicago, Illinois

When I was excited for a new saucepot for Christmas!

Erin Condap, 43
Swanzey, New Hampshire

When I hosted the family Thanksgiving.

Brendan Keating, 38
Chicago, Illinois

When I started my first real job (aside from working summers at camp) as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. It was cold, winter, and I had to show up—on time! A regular paycheck felt pretty “adultish” too.

Melissa Wagner Sogavo, 37
Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Bringing a baby home from the hospital. They just let you walk out the door with them!

Mary Zimmer Thompson, 51
Chandler, Arizona

Four months ago when my daughter had a daughter. Now that I’m the grandma, I’m a grown-up!

Lisa Sundell Olsen, 52
Thomaston, Connecticut

I didn’t feel quite like an adult when I had children or even purchased my first house. Oddly, the moment came when I purchased a 2008 VW Passat Wagon three years ago. Prior to that I only drove old Volvos. Somehow the fancy leather, dust-free shiny molded plastic, and new-car smell reminded me daily that this was a grown-up car. I do miss the third row of my 940 wagon.

Anya Milton, 42
Ferndale, Washington

When I got my first pair of wingtips. I was twelve.

Brad Dahlgren, 64
Chicago, Illinois

The first time I was really ill with little kids, and they still needed breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Marianne Beal Peters, 50 
Plymouth, Indiana

When I had to arrange care for my own pets when I traveled.

Joshua Havens, 34
Chicago, Illinois

Spending too much time researching vacuum cleaners.

Marsha Vaughn, 46
Elgin, Illinois

When I was sixteen and got an internship at a corporation. I felt like a child and adult—both.

Jess Hung, 19
Naperville, Illinois

When I had to
buy my own laundry detergent!

Claire Johnson, 19
Nacogdoches, Texas

The year I turned eighteen and voted for the first time. It happened to be a presidential election year.

Kathleen Klemencic, 52
Wichita, Kansas

When it happens, I’ll let you know! It’s my privilege to work with elementary aged kids at schools, camps, and churches, so my body is sixty-five but my mind is ten.

Jerry Jacoby, 65
Jackson, Michigan

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