I've always been called "mature” for my age. It’s forever been one of the top adjectives family, friends, and co-workers have used to describe me, right next to “independent” and “responsible” (go figure).
A model student/daughter/girlfriend, I got straight A’s, stayed away from the wrong crowds, and always believed honesty was the best policy. I’ve embraced having what several people have affectionately called an “old soul.” But as I get closer to my 30s, I'm learning the difference between being mature and being an adult and most it has to do with me caring less about other people and much more about myself.
1. Being tidy is a turn-on.
Sure, I’ve been the girl willing to wash the dishes, make the bed, and fold the pile of clothes sitting on the floor at my girlfriend's apartment. Did they ever ask me to? Of course not. They didn’t have to. I did it all for love. I’d just shrug it off at the sight of clean countertops and a fridge without expired milk. These days, there are few things sexier than a woman cooking a meal or owning a perfectly alphabetized bookshelf. Skills in the kitchen? Oh yeah. A potential partner I don’t have to pick up behind? Even better.
2. My non-negotiables are truly non-negotiable.
Whether it comes to a new gig, place to live or (girl)friend, I’ve eaten enough bad apples to know what I’m absolutely unwilling to settle for. I will have to refrain from sucker punching the next person who tells me to have an open mind. My mind is wide open -- just to a select few possibilities. Take my recent apartment hunt for example. I knew I couldn't do stuffy studios or roommates that don’t grasp the concept of personal space, so my search for a new apartment was limited to one option: one-bedrooms. A longer trek to the train station, on the other hand, was a price my calves were gladly willing pay for my own place.
3. I accept that I'm a lightweight.
I figured out my alcohol tolerance when I was just 16 and spent a summer abroad where I was able to drink legally. In the 10 years since I've been in denial. I kept telling myself that all I needed was two drinks to get me to "a good place." So if my legs didn’t instantly start to wobble after my first two, I’d order two more rounds. Now, I can appreciate recalling all the details of a fun night. And I no longer rely on alcohol to ease my social anxiety.
4. I don't care if people like me -- as much.
My desire to please people is dwindling. When I found out a seemingly sweet neighbor was talking trash about me having a “white guy” over at my house, shit almost got real. I can only imagine what she has said about the clearly lesbian company I also keep. The mature me would’ve wanted to talk things through, find out her motivation, and reach a common ground: “Sooooo, my friends and I aren’t too loud or anything right?” I’d beat around the bush looking for any racist or homophobic cues. But the grown-up me couldn’t care less what she thinks of me or my visitors. I can keep it cordial and keep it moving. (4.5. I pick my battles.)
5. My tolerance for bullshit is at an all time low.
I kept making plans to meet up with an old friend. Clearly I was the only one clinging to our five-year friendship. After getting stood up (again), I finally deleted her number. I was a big believer in giving people as many chances as they need. Ain’t nobody got time for that anymore.
6. I am the Coupon Queen.
For the longest I didn’t understand why my pharmacy receipt was as long as I am. That is until I finally took a closer look at what I'd dismissed as a waste of paper. Imagine my excitement when I found savings! “25 percent off your next purchase”! This is what’s been dangling at the bottom of the store’s return policy?! There are even coupon books in magazines. How had I been missing all this before? Had everyone been cutting coupons without me? I nearly squealed when I found discounts for tampons and toothpaste in my copy of Essence magazine. [Insert victory dance here.] (6.5. I make up really uncool moves.)
While I’ve considered myself an “adult” for years, this journey is just getting started. Here’s to hoping things like “I hoard garden gnomes” or “I wear granny panties on date night” don’t make my list in another 10 years. Or maybe they will and I just won't care.