I Won't Grow Up: 4 Ways To Separate The Peter Pans From The Adults

by Sydney McBride

Growing up is hard. The upside, however, is the experience, knowledge and wisdom it is supposed to bring us.

As we get older, it becomes much easier for us to define ourselves, the goals we have and the things we want.


The problem is there are two types of growing up. Everyone physically becomes an adult and has to do grown-up things, but there is a huge difference in social maturity levels of real adults and people who just call themselves adults (or as I like to call them, Peter Pans).

We are also a generation full of options: If we can’t decide what we want today, we have a false sense of comfort in believing we will still be able to get it tomorrow.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate a Peter Pan adult from a real adult.

They fool us so easily, and the physical things that used to weed out the kids from the adults no longer do.

They can slap job titles on business cards and call themselves working adults.

They can spit out the words you want to hear that make them sound like they are at mature places in their lives.

Truth be told, there is no set-in-stone definition of adult criteria. That’s because being an adult is not an age or accomplishment; it’s your actions and appreciation of the world.

Here are four ways to differentiate between a real adult and a Peter Pan:


This is a pretty big one for most people. Realizing you can’t always get your way in life is a big part of growing up.

Accepting you won’t always get your way and being able to deal with it is being an adult.

We all have that one friend or have dated that one person who expected everyone to always do what he or she wanted.

The person had no thought or intention of what you wanted to do or would like to do — it was his or her way or no way.

This is someone who hasn’t realized being an adult is a constant game of give and take.

Whether it’s at work, in a relationship or during everyday life, compromise is essential in the adult world.


We may learn manners as children, but we shouldn’t lose them as adults.

Being an adult means being considerate of that fact life isn’t just tough for you; it’s tough for everyone. Everyone has a lot going on.

Thinking you are too busy or too important to be respectful and courteous to others is not an adult mindset.

Thinking about how someone else feels or would feel doesn’t make you weak; it means you understand the importance of having empathy.

Instead of ignoring the person you’ve been texting for two weeks, you could actually just tell the person you’re not that into him or her.

You actually could still say please and thank you to a waiter, even if he or she made a mistake.

You’ll never be able to control other people’s actions, but, even in the worst of situations, you still have the choice to treat others with kindness and respect.

You are not responsible for other people; you are responsible to other people.


Being an adult means keeping your word. If you said you’d call, then call. If you said you would be there, show up. If you said you would do something, finish the job.

Actions truly do speak louder than words, and only immature people make false promises and use words to string others along.

Everyone wants things to happen, but being adult means making things happen. Don’t let someone’s words blind you from his or her behavior.

True adults follow through and are willing to face tough situations head on.


Peter Pan believed he would never run out of time, which is why he never really appreciated it.

True adults know time is their most valuable asset. Life is too short to not be grateful every day.

It is only the unsure who chase status, people or money. Adults know appreciation will always be more important those achievements.

We live in a world where the possibilities are endless, and we can instantly have almost anything we want at any time of the day.

Adults appreciate this, and Peter Pans abuse it. Adults don’t date with the expectation of a magical fairytale story coming out of a one-time Tinder date.

Adults don’t work to expect instant gratification, unlimited vacation days and six figures after six months on the job.

Adults don’t buy only so they can whip out a designer wallet at the bar to get a round of shots for people they don’t care about.

Adults don’t chase possibilities; they create them. People always say the best is yet to come, and it is.

Being an adult doesn’t mean you have to settle. Being an adult means you finally understand value.