1. You become really invested in things like health, eating well, and kale. Sure, you might have the impulse to fill your grocery basket exclusively with desserts and snacks, but you also remember to throw in a few bags of frozen vegetables because it is good for you in the long run.
2. People start to look at you as an unequivocal adult (and by that I mean, you relinquish your “well, they could be a college student so who knows, they might be really immature still” card, and are expected to be All Adult, All The Time).
3. … And then you do something really dumb and wonder how it is you’re allowed to legally call yourself an adult, and if adulthood could be revoked, or maybe yours should be called into question.
4. People start commenting more on when you dress down, rather than when you dress up.
5. You stop rolling your eyes when people discuss things like the complexity and flavor notes of wine. (But for the record, wine does not taste like chocolate and apricots and a bitter bouquet of dried roses you kept from your high school ex. Wine tastes like wine.)
6. Your social media feeds are filled with other people’s kids more than the people themselves — and then you have to remind yourself that this is actually normal.
7. You begin to wrestle with yourself about whether or not you yourself should have kids, or if any miniature humans you create would just be karma for the hell you wrought on your own parents.
8. You begin to feel a mix of emotions for those parents you never experienced before. Yeah, you love them and revere them as your parents still, but you’ve been shifting into seeing them as their own people, so you feel proud of the things you do instead of the standard childhood admiration.
9. Suddenly, you develop Serious Opinions on things like exposed brick and French doors.
10. You can’t recognize any of the pop singers the kids these days are into, and you constantly finding yourself Googling them to make sure that it’s legally appropriate for you to find one of them cute.
11. The divide you feel for “kids these days” is vast and impassible (and by that I mean, you know in the back of your head there is a gap of about a decade between you, but that decade makes all. the. difference).
12. You increasingly find yourself being unable to relate to people even three or four years younger than you, and you’re constantly left wondering if you were that green and innocent (or if everyone is just getting more annoying).
13. There are sincere moments when you try to cling to your childhood, and binge on animated movies and songs you loved way back when, if only to slow down the crippling passage of time.
14. Actually cooking entire meals like Thanksgiving dinner yourself seems… strangely… not… daunting?
15. You find cleaning your room, your kitchen, your apartment — wherever, really — cathartic. Like, you come home and look forward to sudsing up some dishes for stress relief.
16. You would be really impressed by the fact that your hangovers now last for three days… if only you weren’t actually dying from the agony.
17. If you don’t yet have kids, you start talking about how you would never let YOUR KIDS act some way when you see unruly children out and about — and then you pause, not because it’s weird for you to speculate about your kids, but because it is weirdly normal for you to do so.
18. People take you seriously at work. Really. One day, you were some snot-nosed assistant, grabbing everyone’s coffee, and then it seemed like, overnight, you were a valued part of something.
19. Facebook becomes less important (all the profiles of 2 year olds who clearly aren’t manning the accounts, remember?) but LinkedIn is like, seriously, a thing.
20. Your aspirations are a lot more realistic. Instead of trying to be the first astronaut on Mars like you said when you were a kid, you’re just measuring your success by the ratio of the furniture-from-Ikea to the furniture that came preassembled.
21. You’re hopefully at a point where you can actually afford to buy people in your life good birthday and holiday presents. And you feel like Santa. (But you still feel a little weird when they gift you seriously solid presents in return.)
22. The ages of you and your friends easily range between 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and 40-somethings. And you just hang out. There’s no weirdness about it. Sure, sometimes you relate to things a little differently, but for the most part, age being nothing but a number pertains more to your friendships than your dating life.
23. You become startlingly good at just letting little things that would have once annoyed you to no end, roll of your back like water. You’re just too busy and too mature to really spend all that tiiiiiime and effort holding a grudge.
24. But the little things that do bug you are infinitely little. Minuscule, even. It’ll bug you when a sign at a laundromat uses the wrong ‘every day,’ or it annoys you that people are annoyed by Starbucks spelling their name wrong. So you’re angry for a full 0.025 seconds, and then you get over it.
25. And strangely, even though there’s bills and responsibility and rent and only one more year of your parents’ health insurance, for all your nostalgia of less stressful years, you realize that hey, you can do this. You can be an adult. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all. And that self-assurance feels weirdly and totally awesome.