1. You’re not only concerned with just “having a place to live” anymore, but also with making that place feel like home. You are no longer in the phase of life where you’re content to scrape by in whatever room you can rent that month with whatever furniture is cheapest. Now, you want to ground in a space that feels like yours, with people who feel like family (even if they’re not).
2. Your job prospects are no longer just “whatever you get offered.” You would, theoretically, not be forced to just take whatever landed on your lap if you were searching for a job again. You have the background to be a little bit more selective now. You may not be qualified for an executive position yet, but you’re also not only suited for entry-level grunt work.
3. You’re saving money (however little) not only for emergencies, but for the future you want to build. While either or both of those may still be works-in-progress, your mindset is beginning to expand beyond “how do I survive this week?” into “how do I build the life I’ve always dreamed of?”
4. You have opinions – political, personal, social – on things you didn’t even understand before, and didn’t think you’d ever learn anything about. You can talk about, or at least express an opinion on, subjects you never dared touch, not only because you felt uninformed, but because you assumed your opinion would be “wrong.”
5. You can break up like an adult. You’re able to express and communicate your grief and pain, rather than hiding and allowing it to devolve into the drama of a months-long saga.
6. You’re beginning to realize how much your family has done for you, and you appreciate it. This is not to say you don’t still have a degree of grievance, or that you’ve decided to disregard any shaky history between you (quite the opposite, in fact) but just that objectively, you can also see how they’ve helped and loved you, even if not perfectly.
7. You’re ending relationships as soon as you realize they aren’t right for you, or when you realize that the feelings are not reciprocated either way. You still “date just to date” sometimes, but not with people who are ill-suited for you in some way.
8. You’re becoming more discerning about who you spend your time with. You don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation or keep up with every acquaintance you once had. You’re letting some people drift in place of focusing your time on who sincerely matters to you.
9. You don’t take everything so personally anymore. Where you once would be driven into an emotional tailspin to hear that someone was speaking unkindly about you without your knowledge, it seems incredibly less brutal now. You find yourself not caring about things you never could have imagined yourself not caring about.
10. You buy things for quality, not just appearance. In fact, the things you own that are of poor quality bother you to some degree, and you work on replacing them. This applies to everything from clothing to food to your old shaky Ikea dinette from college.
11. You’re becoming ever more disenchanted with spending half of your life scrolling down a news feed. Where you were once a slave to the thrill of social media, you no longer see the appeal as much, or you can equally recognize the importance of the life that happens out from behind a screen.
12. You’re developing interests beyond just drinking and “hanging out.” While those things are fun and have their place, you’re expanding your social palette, so to say.
13. You don’t overreact to emotions. You know that a bad mood or a bad day does not mean a bad life, and that not every irrational thought or sensation needs to be fueled by your unrelenting attention until you’ve “figured it out.”
14. You don’t underreact to being treated unfairly. You advocate for yourself in a way you never felt confident enough to do before. You defend yourself not because you feel belittled, but because you love yourself enough not to be walked on.
15. You believe in yourself because you’ve proven yourself to yourself. You’ve actually shown yourself that you’re capable, and loved, and whatever else you maybe once struggled to believe. Your confidence comes from having seen it first-hand, rather than now deeply you are convinced others see you a certain way.
16. You read to learn, and also consider that “fun.” You are sincerely interested in things – even just cooking or self-help books or selling your art on an Etsy shop – and you take time to learn about them. You’ve grown to realize that the most rewarding thing is to live in accordance with who you really are, and that a life that’s distinctly yours is the most exhilarating thing of all.