How to be a Grown Woman

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

I’ll admit, I’ve had a lifelong obsession with Peter Pan. The idea that I could be pulled away from my everyday life and whisked away to an island where I’ll never grow up or worry about grown-up things fascinated me longer than I’d care to admit.

But growing up happens to us all. Whether it creeps up on you through the years or happens overnight, it happens to us all. We all grow up.

I asked my Facebook friends the other day if there was a moment, however fleeting, that they felt like a grown up. I was curious: what does it mean to be a grown-up? What does that look like to different people?

The answers varied, from eating ice cream for breakfast or sleeping all day without accountability, to paying taxes and moving away from home. Other answers included taking care of yourself when you’re sick, paying your own rent and being called “auntie” by a young child. All answers incredibly valid, all lending a piece of perspective to an entirely unique experience.

For me, it was the moment I fixed the toilet.

I was away from home for an internship, and while I was also paying my own bills and doing my own groceries, I cannot describe the sense of pride that came with fixing my own toilet. Keep in mind, I am not a “handy” woman. I once used tape to fix my cracked laptop. I also once used tape to fix a cracked window. I tend to keep a roll of tape in my purse. But being on my own and only having one toilet, I knew what I had to do. No one was going to take care of this for me, I had to figure it out on my own.

When the toilet was flushing properly again, I called my mom. I left my best friend a voice note. This was such a defining moment for me. I fixed my own toilet.

So what is it that makes you a grown up?

I chose to write about this because I have yet to fully figure it out. Despite having graduated and being a part of the “grown-up world” for some time now, I still don’t know.

Here’s what I always thought: being a grown-up means putting someone else first, but also knowing when to put yourself first. It means knowing when to compromise, but also knowing when and how to stand up for yourself. Always be honest, except for that little white lie. Eat healthily, but don’t forget to treat yourself. And the golden rule: keep it all together.

This sounds a little bit like the ramblings of a crazy person. How can all this be possible? There must be some kind of secret formula to attaining this “adult” status that our parents and colleagues seem to have figured out.

Ultimately, like anything, being a grown-up is about achieving balance. But I now see it a little differently than I used to.

Instead of seeing adulthood has having to maintain balance in my qualities, I now see it as a state in which I have to maintain balance in my moments. For every moment you have to pay your own bill or fix your own toilet, be sure to have a few moments where you eat ice cream for breakfast or spend the whole day in bed. For every stressed-out Thursday at the office in a necktie or heels, be sure to spend a Sunday in your PJs, eating pizza and watching bad TV.

Being a grown-up means balancing the perks and the obstacles. It’s about knowing when you can act like a kid.

But again, I’m still waiting for Peter Pan. What could I possibly know?

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

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One thought on “How to be a Grown Woman

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  1. Assalamualaykum ~

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post because of the fact I’ve always seen myself as the girl version of Peter Pan ^-^ it’s crazy to think that I was asking myself a similar question only just recently as to ‘what makes me an adult’ and then coming across this article! I honestly couldn’t help but wholeheartedly agree! It is about learning to strike a balance (:


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