'Grown up' vs. 'adulting'

'Grown up' vs. 'adulting'

I had a medical checkup earlier this week. My doctor gave me some information about a new medicine. He didn’t say “You’re going to add this medicine,” or “Switch that one for this one.” He gave me the information and asked me to read it and see what I thought.

I caught myself thinking “Wow, how grown-up!”

But that got me thinking later that I haven’t used the term “grown up” (or, for fellow sticklers, the adjective “grown-up”) in months, if not years.

The joy of getting to do something that rightfully belongs to adults, to “grownups,” is much more visible from a younger perspective.

After a few birthdays, and a few more, “being grown-up” begins to turn into a relatively new term, “adulting.” The latter is a term I’m hearing from people I consider barely qualified for it, but I’ve decided I can tell them apart with a few examples. Here they are:

“Being grown up” is getting advice from your doctor that you can consider all by yourself; “adulting” is having to go to the doctor because it’s that time of year again.

“Being grown up” is going shopping for what you want; “adulting” is getting the bill and having to pay it.

“Being grown up” is getting invited out on a Friday night; “adulting” is having to get yourself out of bed on Saturday anyway to get groceries.

“Being grown up” is getting Christmas cards addressed to you; “adulting” is sending out your own, not being included in the family’s.

Aging and maturity? Hmm, that’s another story… watch this space.


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  • Great post!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you very much!

  • I didn't get the distinction, other than a grown-up has more discretion. However, one who is too grown up has his or her meds dispensed by a memory care nurse or has one's spouse tell him/her what to eat for lunch.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes! Would that be extreme adulting?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    There's the expression "we eventually become our children."

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe first, we become our mothers or fathers....

  • In reply to jack:

    In "As You Like It" Jacques describes what happens well:

    "The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
    His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you! So beautifully said.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    That's a clever new term. Well done.

  • In reply to jack:

    To me, Jack, the distinction is that grown up is the privileges that we waited for as children. Adulting is the chores we never suspected would be so dull.

  • Was the doctor treating you as a grown up, or was he trying to get you to buy into taking the drug so that if there was an adverse reaction you'd feel somewhat responsible and therefore less likely to sue?

    I go to doctors because I don't have a degree in biology, pharmacopia, or medicine. He's the learned intermediary, not me.

    Sorry, Margaret, but I think your doctor was being manipulative, and that's not treating you as an adult (a grown up one or otherwise).

  • In reply to Grundoon:

    No offense taken, Grundoon. I saw the incident as treating me as a grownup -- not trying to get me to buy into anything, but asking me to study it and see whether I thought it was good. Thank you for your observations. The term "learned intermediary" is a good one; it reminds me of the "learned friends" in John Mortimer's stories of British courts involving "Rumpole of the Bailey."

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Does this mean we should address you as She Who Must Be Obeyed! ?

  • Time takes "adulting" as a millennial finally taking adult responsibilities, as a 25-year-old finally getting a job and moving out of parents' basement. That might be implied by your examples, but I'm not sure.

  • In reply to jack:

    Hmm. The tired parents in that example might encourage the millennial to start adulting (the kid's word) by saying he's grown up enough to do it. The distinction still needs some work.

  • I think I'll never be defaulting
    To use the word 'adulting'.
    If it's said to act like an adult,
    You get the same result.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Seems like more lazy language lately. Another example on local media is "get boosted" instead of "get a booster shot."

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh, Seriously! Let's stick to "get a booster shot" or "get a third dose" and stay away from more sloppy jargon.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Very properly put, my friend. I think I will stick to that construction, "act like an adult," when I need to describe that result. After all, I have grown up (!) with it.

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