15 Signs You're Faking Your Way Through Grown-Up Life

Photographed by Alice Gao.
Look. We're not big fans of milestones around here. There's no one thing you have to have done by 25, and no universal sign that you are an Officially Certified Grown-Up Person. We all bloom at different times and in different ways.
We all have a few of those friends — those suspiciously wizened 22-year-olds who bemoan the loss of bygone youth and refer to the end of a four-month relationship as "divorce." Those ones. Those are the fakers. And, we felt that they could benefit from a little perspective. Couldn't we all, when it comes right down to it? Haven't we all slipped into the occasional trap of fake adulthood?
Adulthood isn't about what you do or what you have, so much as it's about not acting like a child — the kind of child who harangues their parents with financial advice while still hanging out on the family phone plan. The signs of fake adulthood are a plethora of paradoxes, many of which this very staff has been guilty of over the years. If you see yourself in any of these situations, fear not. Escaping fake adulthood is a lot easier than growing up, getting a job, and renting an apartment. You just need to stop playing house.
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Photo:Thomas Trutschel/Photothek/Getty Images.
1. You buy your parents $100 Christmas presents when they're still paying your insurance premiums. And, your security deposits. And, your gym membership.

The number-one culprit in fake-adultland is the big spender who still counts on their parents to foot the bill for life necessities (and amenities). We all enjoy a splurge from time to time, but we think Mom and Dad would be more pleased to see you become financially independent than with the Vitamix you bought them.
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Photo: Aki/Alamy.
2. You keep renewing your New Yorker subscription despite the ominous stack of issues piling up next to the recycling bin.

You blew through 12 issues over Thanksgiving, but it's just not doable on a regular Tuesday night, and the issues just keep coming, and suddenly you're a high-brow hoarder. Listen, we all want to be the kind of person who spends their free time reading sophisticated material, but there is no shame in coming home to a DVR full of The Long Island Medium. Fine, there's a little shame, but an adult can handle it.
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Photographed by Alice Gao.
3. You say things like "This is my first real vacation in years." If you're under 35, no one is impressed.

Shut up, shut up, shut up. You're GOING ON VACATION. Are we supposed to feel bad for you?
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4. You come home at 9 p.m. and announce to your roommates, "I just got out of work!" Also, no one is impressed. Welcome to work.

Continue to shut up. It's 9 p.m., and we want to go to bed.
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Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
5. You pay for premium cable but still haven't signed up for your company's 401(k).

And, you have a five-minute anxiety attack whenever someone mentions their 401(k). Money stuff can be scary, we get it! But, if you have the option, go talk to your HR rep and get that sorted. You'll see the dent in your paycheck for a couple months, but you'll adjust. And, your retired self will thank you. (And, for goodness' sake, why are you paying for premium cable? Most adults we know just steal those shows online. Kidding. Kind of.)
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Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images.
6. You complain about the government, but you don't vote (especially not in local elections).

This one's a blood-boiler. Politics are tricky and messy and obviously complicated, but if you're going to be that person at the party, making sweeping statements about corruption and the evils of government, then you'd better get your ass informed and into a voting booth (or an activist group). The information is readily available to you. You are not powerless. You have rights and liberties that other individuals would kill for (and have). Use them.
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Photo: Image Source/REX USA.
7. You complain about your chronic toothache but never go to the dentist.

If you don't have dental insurance, that's one thing*. But, if you do, use it! Not sure how to find a doc? Ask a friend for a referral or use a (free!) service like ZocDoc to find someone in your network and area. Scared of the dentist? Almost 75% of U.S. adults are. It sucks, period. We don't want to go, either, but it's only going to get worse the longer you put it off.

*We'd argue that medical expenses are one area where it's perfectly acceptable to ask your parents for a loan, if they're in a position to give you one.
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Photo: Chris Robbins/REX USA.
8. You talk about wine, beer, or liquor just a little too much. At least take a class or have grown up in France, or something.

It's very exciting when you reach a point where you're no longer serving good old Two-Buck Chuck with dinner, but ease up on the glass sniffing, guys. We're not talking to those who actually have an understanding of wine or liquor, but the ones who just buy a pricier bottle for the sake of the pricier bottle, then turn drinking it into a three-act play. Hooray for nicer booze. Can we just drink it now?
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
9. You got glasses before you needed glasses (then got headaches from unnecessary glasses).

Glasses envy is a real thing. There's a reason Urban Outfitters stocks those prescription-free frames, and we recommend just buying those and lying to yourself. Yes, your eyes may be more tired than they were when you were in high school, and yes you should get them checked annually. But, if your doctor says they're fine, then you shouldn't shell out for fancy-pants prescription reading glasses with Gucci frames. You will get headaches, and you will screw up your perfectly fine eyes.

Please note: The author of this piece may or may not have done this at the age of 19. So, hey pot, it's the kettle. You're black.
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Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
10. You keep buying cleaning tools and supplies, but your bathroom still looks like a crime scene. (Let's talk about that shower-curtain liner.)

We know that advertising would have you believe that certain tools just do the job for you, but you do in fact have to turn the vacuum on and operate it yourself. Cleaning can be cathartic and even fun (ish) but it can also be disgusting. And, you still have to do it if you want to live in not-a-hell-hole. Please, please, get in there with the toilet brush and the grout scrub.

And, as for that shower curtain. Good Lord, just burn it. Start fresh and promise yourself you'll do a better job next time. (That means CLOSING it when you get out of the shower. Leaving it open crinkles it up and causes mildew, and why don't people know this?!)
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Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
11. You think chips at a party are tacky and only serve cheese and antipasti.

Grown-ups like chips, too! You can get the fancy stuff if you want. But, know nobody is too adult for Hint Of Lime Tostitos.
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Photo: Arcaid Images / Alamy.
12. You're seriously considering an Eames chair for the $2,700 apartment you share with four other people.

Let's just take a second here, before you whip out the credit card that's bearing the weight of four months of groceries and some impulse taxis. Would you rather have the super-fancy chair now, or maybe move into a slightly nicer place with slightly fewer people when your lease is up in a few months? It's your call, but realize that your young butt will probably survive in the Ikea chair for a little while longer.
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Photographed by Raven Ishak.
13. You're a self-professed restaurant snob, but refuse to learn simple tip math. Here's the formula, FYI.

OKAY! Say the meal is $25.00. Move the decimal point (I know, but hang on!) one spot to the left, and now it's $2.50. This is 10%. That's generally a very-bad-service tip. Double it and you have 20%, $5.00. That's a standard, good-service tip. Meet in the middle and you have $3.75 which is 15%.

So, if you had a good meal and you want to do the bare minimum of math, just move the decimal one spot to the left and multiply by two. Be a 20% person; 20% is the new 15% — plus, it's good karma, and it's easier.
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Photo:Ken Gillespie Photography / Alamy.
14. You bought a KitchenAid Chef Pro Stand Mixer With Detachable Dough Hook, and the unopened box makes a great extra seat when your friends come over.

We all have those kitchen fantasies of multilayer cakes and homemade loaves of sourdough, but then Saturday happens. Then Saturday is over. Do yourself a favor and learn this lesson after the first kitchen-appliance purchase. It becomes a really expensive habit, and frankly, no one has the storage space.

On the upside, you won't need to hit the registry for your cousin's wedding. Put a bow on that baby, and no one needs to know it's been living under your kitchen table for 11 months.
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Photo: Image Source/REX USA.
15. Your income is more than your parents' pensions but you still expect them to pay for dinner.

We end this list not far from where we began. Your folks might want to pay for dinner, and it's okay to let them. But, it's not okay to expect, insist, or imply that they should pay forever and ever. If you're making more money than they're currently pulling in — good for you! You've all reached milestones! You're in a more financially sound place, and they've retired. You should both acknowledge and enjoy that. Take them out next time. It might feel super weird for everyone at first, but you'll all get over it, and the 'rents will certainly be proud of you for making the gesture. Adulthood isn't always as easy as picking up the check, so relish the times that it is.


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