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4 Signs of Adulthood for Reluctant Grown Ups

I assume that no one is ever as surprised by the direction of time as I am. Most people realized early on "Oh, it goes forward? Got it," and that was all they needed. But I'm an idiot (something I've tried to make clear on this blog and even clearer in person), so I'm still constantly surprised by basic laws that govern this universe. As a result, time, in general, and how it relates to aging, specifically, is always shocking to me. At some point, I fell ass-backwards into something resembling adulthood, and I have no idea how or when it happened.

But I do know that it did happen, based solely on context clues. Because I'm incapable of understanding that I'm getting older simply by looking at my age, I have to draw conclusions based on actual, physical, adult-like things that I end up doing all the time. Things like ...

#4. Doing Literally Anything Involving Stocks

I'm going to admit something to the ladies reading this blog that will either be very attractive or make absolutely no impact, depending on how old they are:

I own shares of stock.

I have various amounts of money in various markets and funds and things. I made these decisions based on the information provided to me by my financial adviser. Also? I have a financial adviser (ladies ... or, rather, ladies born sometime before 1985). I met with my financial adviser, and now I own stock. A bunch of different stocks. I just own 'em, right up. Like, they're mine, and I can do whatever I want with them. Sell them. Not sell them. And so forth.

Granted, I still don't actually know anything about stocks -- when my financial adviser sent me a statement of some kind, I asked him if he wanted me to keep it in my portfolio and inadvertently revealed that I thought a "portfolio" was a "briefcase" and that, further, I believed that I had one in my possession -- but I have stocks, and can do stuff to them, and having a thing is better than understanding it, always.

The first time I stepped back and realized that I was having a conversation on the phone with someone about what to do with shares of stock, I thought, "Surely I'm making an elaborate prank call; stock discussions are only for Monopoly Men, and Dads. This can't be me having this conversation; I'm just a boy covered in mustard stains." But it was me, and the mustard stains were actually mustard vinaigrette stains I'd acquired at a fancy restaurant that serves gourmet hot pretzels as an appetizer. I just adulted the shit out of that situation.

Nothing makes me feel more like someone's dad than having shares of stock, paying attention to the stock market and discussing it with my coworkers. "Did you watch the stock show last night? Boy, losers sure did beat out the winners on 'the big board,'" I'll say, which is a thing I heard on the news in 1998 and have since been waiting for an opportunity to say. It's exciting. Even when I'm saying, "Damn, the stock is higher today than yesterday; I should have held out before selling," I smile the whole time, because wouldja listen to this guy? Who is he, a Rockefeller?

When you get older, you find out what a brokerage account is, and what mutual funds are, and how investing money and having a 401(k) is a slightly better fiduciary plan than my old one (hiding money from myself and then being surprised by it later).

I knew investing in my gas tank was a good idea!

#3. Being Too Old For This Shit

Literally any shit. Any time you make the decision not to do something you used to like, you're too old for that shit.

It might sound like a contradiction, but being "too old for this shit" isn't about age, it's about attitude. You haven't outgrown a stupid activity, you've outgrown the idea that trying every stupid activity is important. A friend will come to me and try to get me to do some stupid thing ("Let's stay up all night!" "Let's try to hit up every bar in town one every hour, starting at 1pm!" "LET'S START A SKA BAND!"), and it doesn't take a second for me to laugh it off with an "Oh, no, I'm far too old for that shit."

Pictured: The ska band I'll never have to even pretend to want to form now that I'm officially too old for that shit.

I didn't reach an age where I thought staying up all night for no reason was stupid; it was always stupid, and I always knew that. But I'd do it in college because doing everything and anything that people put in front of you is one of the ways you can learn about yourself.

And I should make an important distinction here: Whenever I back out of an event because I'm "too old for that shit," I do not miss it. I'm not begrudgingly saying "I want to, but damn, I'm just too old." It's not like I was a 14-year-old getting bummed out that he's too old to trick-or-treat; I was too old for "some shit" and just thrilled about it. Because at some point in your life (college), you have to do everything that's pitched to you, because you're still at a point where you want to experience everything, and you never want to say no, and you want all of your peers to know that you're exciting and interesting and open-minded. And it is great to live life that way, but there's also something freeing about reaching the age where you don't need to say yes to everything.

I still try new things a lot, but I don't have to, and I'm comfortable with that. And it's amazing.

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Daniel O'Brien

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