Ever feel as if you’re not quite as grown-up as you should be? You might have
a ring on your finger, a fab job or a mortgage, but you still find yourself
partying like the cast of Jersey Shore on a school night. Or having a
full-on meltdown in the office loos when your boss criticises your work…
And here’s why: technically, you’re still a big kid. Neuroscientists at
University College London have discovered through brain scans that our
prefrontal cortex – the area behind the forehead – continues to change shape
in our 30s and 40s. “This is the part of the brain that’s involved in
decision making, planning and social behaviour, so it’s no surprise that we
behave like teenagers sometimes,” explains researcher Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.
If you suspect your adultescence is holding you back, read on – it seems we’ve
all got some growing up to do…
What sort of adultescent are you?
Answer the following questions (truthfully!), then tot up your score.
1 A bitchy remark from a colleague would make you:
- Explode. Then mutter: “And you have fat arms!” under your breath before she
gets back to her desk. (B)
- Ignore it. As if you care about your crummy job anyway. (A)
- Swallow it. And then obsess about it all night. (C)
2 Work was hell, it’s raining and you broke a heel on the way home. You…
- Resolve to quit your job and get work as a club rep in Ayia Napa. (A)
- Blame your boyfriend for not picking you up after work and send a vicious
“thanks heaps” text message. (B)
- Cancel your plans with friends that evening. You’re just not in the mood to
be social. (C)
3 A friend blows you out for drinks with the girls via text. You reply:
- “No! I’m not going if you’re not.” (C)
- “Whatevs.” (B)
- “Don’t be so boring! Get your arse to the pub.” (A)
4 After a few wines, you can’t help singing along to:
- Do It Like A Dude by Jessie J. (C)
- Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. (A)
- You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette. (B)
5 You’d love to be besties with:
- Leona Lewis (C)
- Cameron Diaz (A)
- Li-Lo (B)
6 Whenever you see your mum, she says to you:
- “When are you going to settle down/get a real job/have kids?” (A)
- “You just need to get yourself out there, darling.” (C)
- “Don’t get annoyed, but” (B)
7 Which three statements best describe you?
- I sometimes tell strangers that I’m younger than I really am. (A)
- The morning after a boozy night out, I always have to text a
tail-between-my-legs apology to someone. (B)
- If somebody compliments me, I say: “Really? But I look like crap today,
didn’t you notice this spot on my nose?” (C)
- I’ve been saying that I’m going to leave my job/move to New York/break up
with Mr Not-Quite-Right for two years. (A)
- If the guy I fancy isn’t at the party, I’d rather go home and mope. Gah! (B)
- All my mates have seen me throw a tantrum. (B)
- I just know I’m about to be fired/get dumped/lose a mate. (C)
- I’m always looking for new drinking pals as all my mates are settling down.
- They’ve promoted me – they’re crazy. What do they think I am? Capable?! (C)
Your growing pains explained…
You’re a ‘When did the party stop?’ princess.
While your mates are having dinner parties, you’re still clinging to your
‘young, free, single’ existence, like Sex And The City’s Samantha Jones. You
can’t understand why your mates won’t skive off work on a Monday for a
weekend mash-up (bor-ing). And you can’t stop thinking the grass is greener
elsewhere. Committing to anything seems crazy when you’re waiting for your
‘true calling’ to fall into your lap.
Growth spurt Relax, we’re not going to lecture you about ticking the
‘house’, ‘kids’ and ‘job’ boxes, but putting off key decisions could mean
you miss out. A good starting point is the Clean Sweep Program at
Betterme.org/cleansweep.html, which is a checklist of life statements like:
“I’m normally on time,” and “My hair is the way I want it.”
They sound trivial but ticking them all off the list will help you make a life
plan by sussing out what makes you happy. Next, get yourself some grown-up
girl crushes. Choose mates whose lifestyles you admire and think of Zen-like
celeb role models, too. Mentally picturing someone whose ultra-adult
demeanour you admire – try Michelle Obama – really works.
You’re a sulky old ‘meanager’.
On paper, you’re a so-in-control adult. But when things don’t go your way, you
go from being aged 30 to 13 in five seconds flat – throwing a strop worthy
of Twilight’s Bella Swann.
You chuck a tantrum when your bloke has to work late and have a severe
allergic reaction to “constructive critcism” from your boss. You’re a slave
to knee-jerk emotions.
Growth spurt For a fast tantrum fix, try ‘speed thinking’. According to
Princeton University, accelerated thinking “takes you out of yourself” in
two minutes. Brainstorm your top 10 holiday destinations, or list your five
fave music videos. Next, create a manage-your-mood journal using CBT
(cognitive behavioural therapy).
When you’re upset, complete these sentences: “I last felt like this when” and
“I’m scared that”. This will help you identify what’s really behind your
meltdown. Livid that your bloke’s come home steaming at 3am? You’re not a
killjoy – just scared he’s going to run off with a hotter you. Chill out.
You’re a scaredy ‘mild child’.
Feel like everyone else left their self-doubt behind with their school
uniform, while you’re still crippled by it, like Bridget Jones? If you worry
that any second, the world will realise you’re a fraud and you’ll be deleted
from 100 Facebook friend lists, you need to rewire your thinking. Being
scared of failure stops you getting ahead.
Growth spurt Check out Happiness-project.com for simple, easy-to-apply
confidence techniques, such as: “Act how you want to feel. Studies show that
the mere act of smiling makes people happier and more confident – even when
they smile mechanically.” Forget what you were told at school, talking to
strangers is the best way to practise being chatty and confident. Today, the
old lady at the bus stop, tomorrow, your boss. And if all else fails, stick
on some bright red lippy. “You can’t be a wallflower and wear red lipstick,”
says François Nars of Nars Cosmetics. “It forces you to put yourself out
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY, LANDMARK MEDIA, REX, CAMERA PRESS