09/19/2013 05:30 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2013

The Inevitable

About a week ago, my coworker and his wife brought their 4-year-old daughter to the rock-climbing gym where we both work. I complimented her on her temporary tattoo and the conversation went something like this:

ME: I like your pizza tattoo!
HER: (very serious) I don't like pepperoni pizza.
ME: It's okay, I don't like pepperoni pizza either.
HER: Yes, you do!
ME: (laughing) No, I don't.
HER: Yes, you do! You like pepperoni pizza. You like it!
ME: (genuinely confused) Why do you think I like pepperoni pizza?
HER: Because you're a grown-up. And grown-ups like pepperoni pizza.

I was stunned to silence. Her mom was laughing, but all I could think was "I'm a... WHAT?"

The worst part of the whole thing was that I couldn't argue with her logic. My initial reaction was denial. Grown-up? I'm not a grown-up. I mean, I get overexcited about horses, Disney movies, and gummy bears. I certainly never outgrew the "Why?" phase. I don't feel like a grown-up -- or at least how I imagine a grown-up should feel. I smiled, shook my head, and went back to climbing.

But it began to dawn on me as I packed up my shoes and harness. Legally, I am an adult. I have a car. I've voted in an election. I pay taxes. I know how to change a tire and hook up a television. I can walk into a bar with my friends and have a few drinks. I have two part-time jobs on top of being a full-time student. I'm applying to graduate school (which is part of the reason this post comes so late). While I'm not totally financially independent, I spent my summer living and working independently in an unfamiliar city. I also recently made the decision to graduate a semester early, so now I'm having to make even more "grown-up" choices, like finding a job and a place to live. Heck, given a different set of circumstances, I could potentially be married with kids of my own by now.

I'm still not sure how I feel about being a "grown-up" or what that even means, but I'm sure I'll come to terms with it eventually. Sometimes you have to hear it from the mouths of babes to make it stick.

But I still don't like pepperoni pizza.