top of page

What Does It Mean To Be A Grown Up?

Feeling weighed down by the overwhelming burden of responsibilities that comes with being an adult? You’re not alone.

Sammy Burt is a culture change consultant, speaker, the author of brand new book What’s A Grown-Up, Anyway? and now the latest special guest on ‘Good Journeys with Second Mountain’, the award-winning, purpose-driven YouTube show and podcast, presented by content creator Ben Veal and produced in partnership with Resilient Leaders Elements (RLE).

Sammy Burt, author of What's A Grown Up, Anyway?

In episode 028 of the show, out now, Sammy Burt talks about the complexities of adulthood, her struggles with imposter syndrome, and how she hopes her new book will inspire readers to shed the anxiety and worries that are so closely associated with getting older.

“I’ve spent my entire life trying to be a grown up”

Through extensive interviews, research and lived experience, Sammy’s new book looks to debunk some of the myths when it comes to being a ‘grown up’ and help adult readers to feel more comfortable in their own skin.

“I’ve spent my entire life trying to be a grown up,” explains Sammy on the show. “Even when I was very young, I was washing up in a pub when I was thirteen because I just wanted to feel like a grown up … I wanted to throw myself into this grown up world. I had this very small-minded mindset that age was a big distinguisher of value; I was clamouring all the time to be something bigger than I was.”“I did this for the longest time. I went into business wearing the shoulder pads and the high heels that I couldn’t walk in, and I even tried to drink coffee which I hate! I walked around for a very long time wearing this persona of what I thought a grown up was — and it was exhausting.”

A big moment of clarity and change came from Sammy late at work one night. I was working for an awesome agency in Bath called The House. One of my then-bosses, Graham Massey, said that there was a video I should watch: Brené Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability. I watched that talk and I sobbed: it was like somebody was looking at me and saying, you don’t need to do that anymore. It was a really big moment for me, realising that I didn’t have to be somebody that I wasn’t anymore.”

“Being a grown-up is qualities-based”

It’s clear from speaking with Sammy that a key driver for writing the book was to try and gain a deeper personal understanding of what the term ‘grown-up’ means to wider society: “There is a difference between being an adult and being a grown-up,” says the author. “You can define what an adult is — whether that’s biologically, legally or through a rite of passage — whereas what it is to be a grown-up, I found when researching this book, is far less clear. Being a grown up, for many people, is qualities-based; we can’t quite put our finger on it. I liken it to being delightful: you can be around someone and say ‘oh, they’re delightful’, but you can’t necessarily define why that’s the case. In my research I interviewed some very old people, and people in their 80s told me that they didn’t feel like they were a grown up yet!”

“I think a lot of being a grown up is about self-regulation. It’s about recognising where you are and asking if this is who you want to be and how you want to behave in the world. I re-learn that all the time: I don’t think you pass through a gateway and become a grown up. There are times where you draw on certain qualities or react to certain situations, and then you look back and go - wow, I was quite grown up in that moment actually, I handled that quite well. There’s a self awareness that comes with being a grown up.”

“The dream I have for this book”

Many of today’s workplaces and corporate cultures recognise that our world is shifting, and that today’s adults expect something very different from their day-to-day environment, as Sammy explains: “If we are in a more creative environment or a more aesthetically pleasing environment, we are more likely to be at our best and perform higher. You can’t get away from the capitalist model unfortunately, no matter how beautifully we design our spaces, but that’s ok, because if it means we’re at our best, enjoying our work and we’re performing to a high standard, and then you overlay that with more purposeful organisations … we can positively impact our society. That’s a great off-set.”

With the book’s launch imminent, Sammy’s hope is that it has a profound impact on readers: “I want the book to be something that someone reads and feels relieved: if I close my eyes and picture the perfect scenario, someone lets out an audible sigh of relief that they don’t have to be the thing that’s been exhausting them for all this time. That’s the dream that I have for this book — that it releases people from some of these myths and worries that we go around with.”

Episode 028 of ‘Good Journeys with Second Mountain’ is out now.

Listen | Watch | Subscribe | Join the Conversation.


bottom of page