Welcome to Adulthood: The Terrifying Moment We Realize We’re the Adult We Need

“I need an adult!” 

The common refrain from Millennials blows up in our faces when we realize we are, in fact, the adult we need. 

While scrolling through the R/askreddit community on Reddit, I came across a thread asking users to describe the horrifying moment they realized they were an adult. 

The answers are sometimes sad and sometimes wistful, but they all showcase that growing up doesn’t happen instantly, and we usually realize we’re adults long after the law does. 

When Our Parents Are Gone

The top response came from a user realizing the unsettling truth of adulthood after their mother’s passing. 

“For years, decades, I kept thinking that I was still a young guy. I still had all this time. I’d scraped and got from job to job, paying the bills but never really getting ahead,” they shared. 

“Mom always had my back. She was my emergency contact. She was my confidant and my rock. My only real family.”

The user said they realized they needed to get their life in order after she passed away. 

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“Parent” Signature

One user shared that she realized she was an adult upon becoming a parent and signing her newborn baby out of the hospital. 

“To release the baby, they said, “parent signature,” she said, thinking that her mother had just left. “Wait…” she added.  “I’m mom now.”

Fixing the Small Things

Our parents always fixed the little problems around the house. Mom would change the light bulbs, dad would tighten the screws, and the kids lived blissfully in a well-maintained home. 

One user shared that a loose bolt in the bathroom highlighted his ascent into adulthood. He watched the silly bolt for nearly two years “until I realized it was me who had to fix it, and there really wasn’t anyone else,” he said.

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Taking Care of Our Parents

Our parents are supposed to take care of us, but as time passes, the dynamic shifts. One user shared that taking responsibility for their aging parents made them realize they’re truly an adult. 

“If they’re unable to make their own medical or financial decisions… it becomes my responsibility,” they shared, highlighting what it really means to be an adult. 

A First Apartment

Some users felt the true call of adulthood early on. One shared that they felt like a full adult on their first night in their own apartment. 

“MY apartment. No parents, no roommates, no romantic partners. Just me and a cat. Felt good,” they stressed.

Having your own space is a magical bonus of adulthood, but it comes with the high cost of maintaining that space. 

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Adults must care for themselves and their space because no one else will do it for them. 

One user said they knew they were an adult upon waking up to a hot mess of an apartment and realized they were the one responsible for fixing it. They added that they needed to be on top of things every day, or things would fall apart. 

“ I am surprised by the amount of cleaning and cooking that has to be done if you want a decent place to live,” replied another user. 

Kids These Days

It happens to the best of us. We’re cool and hip one day, but we’re scratching our heads the next, wondering at new trends and technology. 

Some shared that younger generations’ love of TikTok showcased their ascent into the “uncool older folks” category. They don’t understand the app’s appeal or what kids on the app are talking about. 

In the words of sage old Abe Simpson, “It will happen to you!!!!”

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No More Spring Break

Young adults are in for a shock during their first working year after college. Adults have to work year-round. We don’t get spring break, Thanksgiving break, or summer off. 

One user shared the realization hit them after graduating college. “ I realized that there will be no more “semester breaks,” there will be no more real holidays for me, and that from now on, my life will revolve around work and responsibilities no matter the time and place,” they said. 

It is rather sad if you think about it. Adults have no time to pursue their interests, engage in hobbies, or just live without the stress of work. We should bring back mandatory breaks for everyone!

Parents Are People

When we’re kids, our parents are our heroes. They’re mystical creatures who know everything, provide for us, and solve all our problems. We look up to these magical beings. 

The mark of a genuine adult is realizing our parents aren’t magic; they’re just people. And as people, they’re fallible. They make mistakes, display emotions, and struggle just like us. 

This understanding brings growth and helps us understand our parents in a new light. They did the best they could. 

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Adulthood Hits Us All

We may be legal adults by 18, but most of us have that deer-in-headlights moment that “wow, this is on me” at different times. 

Becoming an adult is a long process. Some of us embrace it early on, while others take years to understand the true nature of adulthood. That’s okay, we’re all on our paths, and it’s not a competition. 

I hope you enjoyed the pivotal moments Redditors shared, which made them feel the total weight of adult responsibility. Perhaps you can relate to a few of them!