What it Means to Be an Adult

I’ve been thinking lately about what exactly it means to be an adult anymore. I don’t mean physically, either. It wasn’t that long ago that soon after reaching legal adulthood, people would marry, move out of their parents’ house, get their own place, and start having babies. However, for someone like me who has gone back to school in her 30’s, doesn’t want marriage or kids, and is currently living with her mother, what does it mean to be an adult and how should that look in my life?

I’m hardly alone. More people now than ever are going back to school later in life, choosing against marriage and kids (or doing those things later), and moving back in with family. I think it can be chalked up to more jobs requiring education past high school, inflation, stagnant wages, globalization, women enjoying more rights, and people having more freedom to travel and gain experiences before settling down.

Beyond this question, though, I ask myself why I feel I need to know these markers of adulthood. Am I uncomfortable there’s no measuring stick? Am I insecure in my lack of knowledge as to whether I meet some arbitrary (and currently unknown to me) societal standard? Am I judging myself? Is anybody else feeling this specific type of floatiness and drift and trying to feel the metaphorical bottom with their feet right now?