This is a tricky prompt for me because I feel like my life definitely straddles both sides of this coin, so in my rather tired state, I shall attempt to look at both.
I am, and have always been, an Old Soul, which I've been told was partially inherited and partially because of my intelligence. My mom recently unearthed some baby pictures of me she'd lost track of, and when she was narrating her way through them to me, she came to one that was taken around the first few weeks of my life, and she told me that she felt like I was starting into her soul -- knowingly -- at that moment, and she felt like it was weird and freaky and an indication I had knowledge beyond my ... well, days, at that point, but eventually, when I was older, years. I've always been the girl that colors inside the lines, that liked it -- well, more like reveled in it -- when adults paid attention to me and included me, and I know from both stories and memories that my brother and I have always been very well behaved, grown-up acting people. My grandma likes to tell a story about the owner of a restaurant once complimenting my grandpa (and my parents, ultimately) for my brother's and my behavior at the restaurant table; the owner said he'd never seen such young children (I think I was maybe in 2nd grade and my brother was a Kindergardener) behave so well and so maturely in his restaurant. My brother and I are both just like that. So to think about how I became MORE of a grown-up this year? Maybe in subtle but significant ways -- my boyfriend and I have been more and more integrating his kids into the fabric of our relationship this year and now they spend at least one of the nights he has them every other weekend here at our house. I recently also found myself in a situation of having to take my mom down to urgent care because of an issue, which wigged me out when it probably shouldn't have, but the dawning realization that your parents are going to someday reach a point where you'll have to take care of them was unnerving to me, despite having watched my parents care for my mom's parents for the last seven years (well, grandpa for five of those; he died two years ago). So I guess that changes have been at once major and minor -- major because they involve pretty significant steps forward in my life, but minor because I don't think they've necessarily altered me as a human; not fundamentally, at least.
Yet, the sticking point to this prompt for me is that I don't really often feel like a "real" grown-up, but not because I obstinately refuse to act that way; I don't fancy myself to be Peter Pan. It's just that the way my life is working out has made me feel sometimes like I'm hovering in a persistent state of reality limbo. I live in my parents' house while they're living with my grandma fewer than three miles away; I try to rationalize this as "caretaking" of the house, when there are other times I just feel like a loser who doesn't have the grown up responsibilities of things like paying rent. Granted, I pay all of the utilities, and so since I live in a full-sized house, water and electricity and such are, all combined, probably as much as someone's normal rent would be, but still. It's the house I've lived in since I was 2, I just occupy a different room.
I also have never yet owned my own car; I've always driven a hand-me-down or loaned car from my parents. I was seriously considering buying a car right as school started, but decided against it for now. Lately, I have, however, assumed the responsibilities of paying for whatever goes wrong with my current car, and as its a BMW, this is a fairly expensive adventure, but still. I still ask my dad what to do, where to go, and how to take care of it.
It's really all just weird -- I have a career that I love, and I've been at the same school now for six years, but also, that feels weird too because I live currently in budget crisis limbo-land where my job is always at stake, so it's hard to fathom what I would do instead, and it also makes me very, VERY cautious about taking on any other kinds of responsibilities like buying a condo or even a car.
I'm realizing that a LOT of this is relating to money, as if somehow I equate "being a real grown-up" with "able to spend money on sensible things like homes and vehicles" ... I don't really; in my head, though, it's more about the responsibility that is connected with those kinds of investments. I see other people -- and other people much, MUCH younger than me, buying homes and cars and going on big vacations and I can't wrap my head around getting myself into those situations with such financial uncertainty in my life.
But essentially, my point in this second half is that it's hard to feel like a "real" grown up when I haven't really transitioned out of being a kid living at home. It's different, of course -- I don't live with my parents and I've had pretty free reign to make changes to the house that aren't terribly permanent (paint color, furniture, etc.) -- but really, it's not. I live in the 'burbs, which I guess might make some people feel really good, like they were successful, but not me. I guess the difference is that I haven't had to work to come back to the 'burbs because I never actually left, really. ::shrug:: I guess it's all perspective. Some day, maybe those things will happen for me, but maybe even then I won't feel like a "real" grown up...
Oh. But if it matters: I totally still color in coloring books. Take that, grown up me!