great things about being a grown-up

This tweet from Girl on the Net the other day got me thinking:

I couldn’t limit myself to a single favourite, so here are a few great things that come to mind:

I get to set the thermostat at the temperature I want, and I enjoy being warm enough indoors that my nose doesn’t run.

I can have the nice shampoo, conditioner and soap that I want.

This is obvious but bears stating. I can have sexy times (solo or partnered) without having to be quiet and/or secretive. I can procrastinate and leave sex toys lying about before cleaning and putting them away.

I don’t get chores sprung on me at someone else’s whim. Wolf and I have worked out who does what, and I do my stuff when I want/am able.

Home is now a refuge rather than a place to escape. The only people who get to be there are ones I really like, or ones who I don’t mind but will also leave soon.

But there’s more great stuff about adulthood than that and I think the reason why we as adults aren’t more excited about it is that we have a tendency to look at it in terms of responsibilities, which is a variety of negativity bias. (And then there’s hedonic adaptation.) But growing up is about becoming autonomous, which necessitates taking responsibility for yourself. While not “fun” exactly, autonomy can be deeply satisfying.

I’m autonomous in my emotional life. I can learn for myself how my emotions work and what I need rather than rely on my parents’ (as it turns out) incorrect assumptions. I can learn better ways to cope with conflict than (a) freezing, bottling it all up, and hoping the other person will read my mind, or (b) bottling it all up and then having an explosive confrontation. (I mean, it’s not easy to learn a different way of doing things, but I can.)

I’m not being explicitly or implicitly criticised, and I no longer feel like I’m always wrong. I can choose to share my life with people who give me the love I need and think I’m pretty great, and choose not spend time with people who make me doubt myself or make me feel unwelcome. My self-image is still worse than it objectively should be, but being autonomous means that I can make decisions and take steps to get my needs met.

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