How I realized I’m an adult.

I, Caroline Newman, am An Adult™. I made a spreadsheet comparing grocery prices across town. I pay my taxes (and pay someone to prepare them for me). It now takes me three to six sittings to finish a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I rarely drink wine from a can, pouch, bag, or carton.

These traits were not, however, the final straw in my journey towards adulthood. No, I first realized I was an adult when, three weeks ago, my mom asked me what I might like for Christmas.

In years past, this exchange has gone something like this:

Mom: What do you want for Christmas?

Caroline: I dunno, probably an American Eagle Gift Card, or an iTunes gift card so I can buy more e-books that I won’t ever get around to reading.

Mom: Is that all? Where do you like to eat in Rolla?

Caroline: The only places I eat are Steak N Shake and Imo’s, please do not encourage these terrible nutritional habits.

Mom: Ok. *Gives me gift cards to SNS and Imo’s anyway, bless her heart*

This year… Well, she asked me to email her a list and I still haven’t done it. I guess that’s partially because I can’t stop procrastinating in any area of my life, but it’s also because I am truly having a hard time determining what I want.

This is not to say that there isn’t stupid crap that I want. I have a bookmarks folder specifically for stupid t-shirts that I think would look cute and quirky on my body (or, more accurately, in a drawer 87% of the year). My designated “expendable” sunglasses finally bit the dust on Sunday so it would be nice to have another pair that I can keep in my car, wear on float trips, and generally not worry about the way I worry about my prescription ones.

Honestly though, those are all things I can get myself. What I really want, I can’t ask for, because what I really want can’t be bought.

At this point, I just want time. And maybe money, but the money is really just to enhance/extend the time. I want time to sit around and finally catch up on my Netflix queue. I want time to get in my car, pick a direction, and drive until I either feel like stopping or am forced to stop by an ocean or an international border (this is where the money comes in; gas and food and all). I want time to throw myself into passion projects (guitar, painting, running). I want time to re-read Moby Dick, and time to read every other book I own that I still haven’t read yet. I want time to get really good at cooking my own pad thai.

Not exactly things anyone can give me. Instead, these are things that I have to take for myself. I could easily spend an extra hour a day working on all of those small things if I slept less. A road trip isn’t out of the question; I just need to set down a solid plan and budget.

These realizations are an important part of growing older. Life isn’t about how much shit you can amass; after all, you can’t take it with you. And while yes, things are fundamentally nice and important, and everyone’s philosophy is different, I’d rather have a life built on experience and adventure than on stuff. Recently, after getting tremendously overwhelmed at the size of my Netflix queue and the number of podcasts I’ve been neglecting, I came to the conscious realization for the first time that it’s impossible to do everything. There are hundreds of live I’ve wanted to live, and I’ll be lucky if I even get to live one of them.

So this year, all I want for Christmas is time to try to become my idea of my best self. And maybe a nice pair of socks.