One of my friends recently referred to me as one of her “non-grown-up friends” which made me laugh and then of course sparked conversation. We started talking about what makes a person a grown-up according to society and how we both feel as though we do not fit into that category. As I steadily approach the ripe age of 30, I am constantly reminded of what I am “supposed” to be doing.. i.e. settling down, making big bucks working an office job, buying a house, getting a rock on my left hand, and making babies. Alas, I find myself far from that scenario… and I am okay with that (to the dismay of many).

It has take me long enough to recover from the socially isolating experience of trying to fit in during my high school years; it is hard to realize that you are most appealing when you just embrace yourself and stop caring so much about other people’s opinions. We are a society of people-pleasers … yet such behavior often leads to unhealthy compromise and self sacrifice. Trust me, I should know, I have spent years playing that role. Not to say that I will stop trying to make people happy but I will no longer do it at my expense.

Many people, especially ones significantly older than myself, are always telling to use my background to get a high paying corporate job or monopolize on the green movement. What they are missing is why I got into this field in the first place… and believe me, it was not for the money. When I chose my major my adviser STRONGLY advised against it because environmentalist were still considered “liberal, tree-hugging, granola eating hippies” at that point (and why is that a bad thing?). This is the pre-al gore time when professors were not allowed to voice their opinions much less teach us about global warming at. Needless to say, I went into the field because I am passionate about it. My goal is to make the greatest positive impact on the largest number of people possible by to shedding light onto the cracks that have formed in our society so that we can work together to fix them.

My passion for making this change far exceeds any desire to hop on the adult train. In fact, I think I am one of many individuals that are redefining what it means to be adult. My adult life means pursuing higher education, doing service work, traveling regularly, living a frugal lifestyle, volunteering in your free time, and saving my compromising for relationships. Most of my close friends live similar lifestyles and those that don’t at least understand and respect mine. Some high-school friends, co-workers, and strangers however have a harder time understanding where I am coming from. A selection of my favorite responses and comments:

Question 1: ” Do you have kids? ” (Of course the answer is no…)
” You should have AT LEAST three by now girl, you getting old.” (incorrect english intended)
“Are you a lesbian?”
“Yeah, I guess your chest would be bigger if you did.” haha. That one still makes me laugh.

Question 2: “What do you do for a living” (I just received my masters and I am working two jobs)
“A masters, that’s cute.”
“Why do women these days think think they need to be so well educated?”
“I guess your degree didn’t teach you to master the art of getting a full-time job.” This was from a friend, so its allowed.

Interestingly enough, a lot of my friends that are married with houses and kids are always telling me how lucky I am, how jealous they are, and why they should have taken more time to consider what it was they really wanted. The grass is always greener.
(See funny e-card to the left from

This is not to say that I don’t to eventually have/do some of the “normal” adult things, just that I want to do them my own terms at at my own pace. And really, lets be honest. I will never be normal. Where is the fun in that?

Written by Nikki