1. Signing the closing papers on my first house. There is nothing more humbling than signing the papers to owe the bank more money than you've ever owed anybody. My hair was wet from an ill-timed shower and DH was late after getting lost on the way to the bank. I had to go home because I forgot to bring the checkbook and I couldn't find a parking space.
2. The first night I spent in my first house: the day my then-fiancée (now DH) and I finally moved out of our rental was a freezing cold January day with a sprinkling of snow on the ground. Both sets of parents came to help us move and we took everyone out to Chilis for dinner. That night we announced our week old engagement and after celebrating we returned to our first grown up house. My parents snapped a picture of us standing on the front porch with our arms wrapped around each other. We look terrified and much too young to be homeowners. That night we curled up together in our brand new queen size bed (a gift from Grandma) and tried to adjust to the strange noises that an old house makes.
3. The first day of my teaching career: I was 21 years old and four months removed from the college lifestyle. I had been hired a week before the first day of school and I was woefully unprepared for my first crop of students (I taught 7th grade at a different school from my current one for one year). I stood up before my first class and launched into my first day presentation while trying to keep my voice steady and quell the butterflies in my stomach. It was absolutely terrifying to realize that I was solely responsible for these kids and their success or failure. I was a terrible teacher that first year before I finally learned everything I should of learned during 4 years of college.
4. The day we adopted our dog: I had been begging for a dog for quite awhile and on a bright June day we picked out our sweet puppy. The adoption went quick and before we knew it we were loading her up in the back of my SUV and taking her home. She puked all over the backseat less than a mile from the shelter and it was the first time I'd ever cleaned up anyone's bodily fluids without gagging. After we got home and got her settled in DH went back to town to get some sorely needed dog supplies and dinner for us while I stayed home with the new addition. Once he left she followed me from room to room and I ended up sobbing in the bedroom because I was afraid I would never love her and that I would never be alone again. She was so clingy it scared me, but within a week we were inseparable.
5. The first time I was sick alone: My junior year of college I got pretty sick and was confined to my apartment for a week. I lived alone and my parents weren't nearby so this was my first time being truly alone and sick. Due to the nature of my illness people couldn't come over so I was really alone. When I was hungry I couldn't rely on mom to make me food, it was up to me to check my temperature, make myself food and keep myself in a steady supply of Gatorade and trashy tv. I lost 6 pounds in a week, but I learned how to take care of myself.
7. Traveling in Europe by myself: Last summer DH had to go to France for work. For the cost of a plane ticket I got to tag along and crash in his company paid hotel room. During the day he worked and I was on my own. I roamed all over the Loire Valley on the train and tried to make myself understood by the locals. My French is atrocious and I had no fallback plan, my cell phone was turned off and I was alone in a foreign country. The most marvelous part of the trip was roaming through Paris alone and eating dinner under the Eiffel Tower all by myself. I gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities to communicate and navigate. Prior to this trip I tended to rely on other people to plan my trips for me (namely my mom and DH) and to take care of me. I had never been to Europe without my mom and she lived in Germany and Italy and speaks eight languages fluently so she has no problem getting around. This trip was the best trip because I made the schedule (or lack thereof) and decided what to do and where to eat. I could sit on a bench reading my book for an hour and watching the people go by instead of rushing to activity after activity. I was able to absorb the true flavor of the country instead of just the stuff tourists see. It was a truly inspiring trip that made me more confident and inspired me to take more risks (my type A personality is totally against risk) and live less of a scheduled life.
Every time I have a new experience (writing my first thousand dollar check, buying a car, setting up a retirement account or writing my will) I feel just a little bit more grown up, it's like it sinks in just a little more that I really am a grown up. You may have noticed that my wedding didn't make the list, I really didn't feel grown up after marriage. DH and I had lived together for 4 years and the wedding was just another day in our life. He makes me feel like a kid (and he acts like one a lot) and he just completes me-it would feel unnatural not to be with him so marriage didn't really change our lives. However, when I look around at friends who are my age (or younger) that are popping out babies I shudder to think that I'm theoretically old enough to be someone's mother (other than my puppy). What experiences make you feel like a "real" adult?