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Adulthood

  • Life is not what you expected it to be.

  • It is when you doubt yourself that you are grown up.

  • One of the loveliest things about being grown up is the knowledge that never again will I have to go through the miserable business of performing in Mrs. Smedley's Annual Piano Recital at McKinleyville's First Presbyterian Church.

  • A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

  • The moment you decide that you're a grownup now, and therefore must put away foolish things like staying out all night or cruising down strange highways is the moment you will lose that ineffable glow of youth. If you don't believe me, look around. Study those people who would rather go to shopping malls than dance halls, who think the height of depravity is bidding two no trump with only fifteen points. Every single one of these people has a stringy neck.

  • To mature is in part to realize that while complete intimacy and omniscience and power cannot be had, self-transcendence, growth, and closeness to others are nevertheless within one's reach.

  • It's rather hard to decide just when people are grown up ...

  • I think that's what maturity is: a stoic response to endless reality.

  • Psychological adulthood is by no means a universal attainment.

  • I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.

  • That's maturity — when you realize that you've finally arrived at a state of ignorance as profound as that of your parents.

  • ... I thought of my father's wisdom, as though it were buried in a box under a tree. As in the old song — a gold box with a silver pin. Some day I should be grown up, and I should dig up the box and turn the pin.

  • ... one of the blessings of adulthood is that one is no longer addressed as a thing.

  • If this was adulthood, the only improvement she could detect in her situation was that now she could eat dessert without eating her vegetables.

  • Let's face it: part of being a grownup is that every day you have to choose between going out at night or staying home, and it is one of life's unhappy truths that there is not enough time to do both.

    • Nora Ephron,
    • "Living With My VCR," Nora Ephron Collected ()
  • Nothing ever seems to change at my parents' house. The kitchen feels just as it did when I was a little girl. ... It's hard to feel like a grown-up when nothing ever changes in your mother's kitchen. It's like time stands still.

  • It's hard to pinpoint the moment you feel grown up.

    • Diana Barrymore,
    • in Diana Barrymore and Gerold Frank, Too Much, Too Soon ()
  • When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. ... To be alive is to be vulnerable.

  • ... I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools — friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty — and said, Do the best you can with these. They'll have to do. And, mostly, against all odds, they're enough.

  • Most grown people are like icebergs, three-tenths showing, seven-tenths submerged — that is why a collision with one of them is unexpectedly hurtful ...

  • Being a grown-up means assuming responsibility for yourself, for your children, and — here's the big curve — for your parents. In other words, you do get to stay up later, but you want to go to sleep earlier.

  • The struggle to be considered a grown-up begins, I believe, shortly after birth.

  • The definition of adulthood is that you want to sleep.

    • Paula Poundstone,
    • in Howard J. Bennett, The Doctor's Book of Humorous Quotations ()
  • Growing up is loving what you can afford to.

  • At twenty-one, although half of one's being is still a child, reaching back into the past, clinging stubbornly to the known, the safe, the remembered way, the other half is tearing itself loose, kicking aside restraints and bondage, pursuing with complete selfishness and egotism its own ends and aims.

  • We thought we were running away from the grownups, and now we are the grownups ...

  • ... another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.

  • People are less quick to applaud as you grow older. Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there.

  • ... maturity ... is letting things happen.

  • Maybe I'm an adult because my friends are. Could that be the way you tell? My friends are tall and drink coffee and have sex. They also eat strawberry ice cream straight from the box and hide notes from their dentists ... and play card games and sulk when their names are left off memos. Maybe no one actually turns into an adult. Maybe you just get to be an older and older kid. Maybe the whole world is being run by old kids.

  • You're never too old to grow up.

  • Growing up is after all only the understanding that one's unique and incredible experience is what everyone shares.

  • The sad discovery of the adult world was the permanent truth: you don't always do what you want to do; you do what you must.

  • [Adulthood:] It's when you stop doing the stuff you have to make excuses for and when you stop making excuses for the stuff you have to do.

  • ... by the time I'd grown up, I naturally supposed that I'd grown up.

  • The child in me says 'Hold on'; the adult in me says 'Let go.'

  • The essence of parenting is to never lose faith in your child and the essence of adulthood is to assume that faith in yourself.

    • Ann Linnea,
    • in Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher ()
  • But the gates of my happy childhood had clanged shut behind me; I had become adult enough to recognize the need to conceal unbearable emotions for the sake of others.

  • God knows it's a sign of a really sick mind to see grown people, adults with responsibilities, wearing class rings.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Pioneers: A View of Home," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • Accumulating years in the act of living is no guarantee of maturity. In fact, it is possible to be born, grow old and die without ever maturing.

  • ... there is no gateway to maturity; there is no line that is crossed. Maturity is like a maze, one path leading to another; it is like a great building full of corridors, one turning into another. Did anybody ever reach the end, so there was a clear way ahead, so he could say, now I am rich with knowledge, now I know all the answers?

  • There is 'a time to be born' — and born again, free of accumulated, encrusted sores of fears and prejudices, old hates, of cancerous wounds, old prides. And there is a time to die — a time for the blue, unburied child of our young years to be decently interred — and to get on with the living.

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • The chance to grow up doesn't come to most men until around middle age.

  • You sit back most of your life, and you assume that there are grown-ups somewhere running the show. If you really get out there, if you look behind the curtain, you see it is just a bunch of tired people like yourself, needing help, trying their best and not doing half as well as they would like. That is the moment when you have an opportunity to grow up and to take your part.

    • Doris Haddock,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()
  • Maturity is the ability to do a job whether you're supervised or not; finish a job once it's started; carry money without spending it; and the ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.

  • This is what growing up is about: recognizing who your parents were, appreciating what they could give, acknowledging what they couldn't give, feeling the disappointment, and moving on.

  • ... you may only be young once, but you can be immature forever.


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  • Babies display the unwavering conviction that the universe revolves around them, and growing up is really just a nonstop exercise in being disabused of this notion.

  • The whole point of growing up is learning to stay on the laughing side.

  • Maybe growing up is just focusing on what you've got, instead of what you don't.

  • By the age of fifty, you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.