We all have to grow up at some point or another, and we all experience watershed moments that lead us to make choices that come to define the overall trajectory of our lives.
When Redditor JapShag asked the online community "What happened that finally forced you to grow up?" the answers were about as revealing as you might expect.
Warning: Some sensitive material ahead.
"My mother left me in a restaurant..."
My mother left me in a restaurant when I was a freshman in high school with $20 and moved across the state without me.
I had my grandparents who were willing to drive 5 hours and to give me a place to stay while I went to high school, but it got me to get emancipated and get rid of that drug addict from my life. I feel bad for my little brother though who she took with her everywhere on her drug fueled life, he still to this day can't be too far away from mom in case she needs his help.
"At some point, I started running out of money..."
I used to be an extreme and unapologetic shut-in. I moved to a new city to attend university but stayed very isolated. I used to take regular trips back to my hometown for weed and beyond that the only significant social contact I had was one friend from back in high school who was studying in a different city on pretty much the other side of the country. He lived the shut-in life, too, but didn't smoke and always seemed to have his sh!t relatively together. We regularly skyped for hours and hours, since we both spent a lot of our free time in front of our computers.
At some point, I started running out of money and had to start taking jobs. Around that time said friend committed suicide.
My brother getting cancer. Dude doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, takes AMAZING care of himself, and has a successful career as a screenwriter. I was sixty pounds overweight, smoking a pack and a half a day, and getting drunk/stoned every night of the week. When the big C showed up, I realized I needed to get my shit together. Got a gym membership, curbed the drinking, quit the sticks, and got my life together. My brother recovered and now we can enjoy healthy living together. It's rewarding.
"That didn't do it."
Dad was killed in an accident. That didn't do it.
Mom decided to deal with it by watching TV. Forever. Barely ever leaving the couch. That didn't do it.
Rest of the family blackballed me for not participating in their religion. That didn't do it.
I was two years graduated, unemployed in a dead-end gig-economy career path, spending most of my time on an Xbox. That didn't do it.
My girlfriend's friends had an intervention and told her she could do better than me.
That did it.
She was my first and only girlfriend. We had basically grown up together. We read the same books. I'd beat her at Smash but she'd beat me at Mortal Kombat. I'm not a complete person without her. Her friends weren't wrong, but I wasn't going to let them be right.
Two months later I had a shitty minimum wage job that I worked at for a year before it fell through. Then I got another shitty minimum wage job that I worked my butt off at for almost a year and then got promoted. Took my 'real' job money and found a place to live. A year after that she agreed to move in with me.
We've been married adults for almost a decade.
"We had no idea who my uncle was."
My uncle passed away in 2011 and I attended his funeral. We typically don't do open caskets in Hinduism and we cremate the body as soon as possible, but because he had helped out people in the neighborhood we held an open casket for one afternoon.
A thousand people showed up at my late grandma's house, each one of them sobbing when they saw him and coming up to me and family members telling us about how he helped them get off the streets, how he bought clothes for them, how he gave them food when they were hungry, how he helped them get jobs, get into school.
We had no idea who my uncle was.
I carried his legs on my shoulders to the funeral van which was to take him to the cremation site, and the day after I picked up his warm bones with my bare hand and helped them release his ashes into the nearby ocean.
That was the day I realized that I was no longer a kid and that I had some big footsteps to follow if I was to make a difference to my family, my friends, myself, and everyone around me.
"Changed my entire outlook on life."
When I was 21 I suffered pregnancy loss. I was 5 months pregnant and had my son stillborn. I feel like I aged 10 years over those days of finding out he had no heartbeat, delivering him, and having his funeral.
Changed my entire outlook on life.
"Got arrested for a DUI."
Got arrested for a DUI. Made me realize how many stupid decisions I was making and the fact they could have extremely bad consequences, potentially for others as well.
"I guess time will tell..."
The first was when I put the barrel of my handgun in my mouth and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, the chambered round was a dud from a cheap box of ammo that had probably gotten wet in the past. Thinking it was a hangfire, I sat there with the barrel in my mouth waiting for it to go off, just thinking over everything that brought me to that decision. I'm not even sure how long I stayed that way.
The second was a year or two later when I quit a job that I really liked. My performance was poor and getting worse, the higher-ups had nothing but resent when they looked at me, and I just couldn't find the will to do better. I begrudgingly left to make it easier for them, since they didn't have the reasoning to legally fire me. I spent the next few years homeless, in an unfamiliar city with no contacts.
The third was after I had gotten a job on my own to get a place to live. It wasn't a great job, but I scraped by. Part-way through my second year, I quit so I could make another suicide attempt. With a different method this time, I knew I wouldn't fail. Unfortunately, I was stopped while I was waiting for it to take effect. I spent another few years homeless after that.
Fast-forward to today, and I'm still 'growing up'. I enrolled at a university and was making some headway there, but I recently have taken a break to think over another suicide attempt. I like to think, sometimes, that my suicidal tendencies are the last vestiges of my young self trying to hold me back from growing up. I guess time will tell if I ever grow up, if I float through life stuck in between, or I'm finally able to give in and end this ride.
"...are pretty much all depressed and miserable from my experience."
Realizing that it is a better alternative than not growing up after doing a lot of soul searching and reading.
Just living like a kid and not taking up much responsibility when you're in your 20s and 30s is great in the short term, but in the long term it makes you feel terrible, depressed, regretful etc. when you don't have a sense of meaning and accomplishment that only comes with taking up adult responsibilities. Having a career, starting a family, starting a business, etc. etc.
People in their 30s and 40s who haven't done much of value or meaning in their lives are pretty much all depressed and miserable from my experience.
"But there was a shift that day..."
Age 25, I was in the middle of having a panic attack on the subway and I realized that I was so exhausted and sick of myself that I didn't want to go through the panic attack and just... stopped having it. Stopped shaking almost immediately, did not care anymore.
This is not at all to say that panic attacks are anything to "grow out of" or generally controllable at all most of the time. I still have them, triggered by irrational reasons, and usually have to ride them out or take medication.
But there was a shift that day in how I think about my anxiety & phobias. I was using my anxiety as an excuse to be an antisocial hermit, overspend, overeat, flounder in my career, not advocate for myself at work, continue doing avoidant anxious behaviors all the time, hate myself, and a whole host of other bad stuff that I am now more consciously working on - and that moment triggered me finally taking control back.
"I miss that life all the time, but..."Giphy
I was playing in a band, living in and out of a van, playing 150+ shows a year and touring for extended periods of time and yet I still lived barely above the poverty level.
Got sick of the poor boy, ramen noodles and microwave pizza grind and quit the band in 2012. Seven years later, I've quadrupled my salary.
I miss that life all the time, but I'm finally comfortable and able to enjoy life and not stress about money or pawn belongings to put food in my stomach.
"My boyfriend at the time broke up with me."
My boyfriend at the time broke up with me. Forcing me to move out of his parents house where we lived the whole four years of our relationship (as far as I know he is still living there 3 and a half years later).
I had to sleep in my sisters nursery, she was pregnant with my nephew, and I realized how pathetic my life was. Got a job and moved in with a roommate 3 weeks later. Now I have my own car, own apartment, and a healthy relationship.
"Those years still sucked though."
I came out to my extremely homophobic parents at 16. I spent the next 2 years being verbally berated by the two of them and was very close to being kicked out. Sobering up to the fact that I couldn't be honest about something I knew I couldn't change (I knew when I was 12, tried to change it for years prior to coming out) and have them love me anyway matured me a lot.
Parents are still a bit homophobic 13 years later but are working on it. Those years still sucked though.
"I ended up doing everything..."
Parents moved us across the US without having jobs beforehand. Spent a year there, they were supposed to be looking for jobs.
Not waking up their 9 year old at 3 am on a school night to see if she wanted pizza.
I ended up doing everything for myself that year and never stopped.
"Sleeping in my car..."
Sleeping in my car instead of either of my parents' places because it was safest, emotionally and physically, to sleep in a car than to sleep in either house (i was in high school) I've always been too mature for my age but the first night I did that I realized "no one is going to save me from this. The only thing that will save me is if I save myself, because no one can do it for me." I ended up moving out a year later and now I've been independent for almost 4 years and I can honestly say that I'm happy,
"The greatest love I have ever known..."
The greatest love I have ever known was thrown into limbo as a result of my self-destructive behavior and hurtful words. I miss her so much, but this needed to happen. I wasn't taking life seriously, in a number of ways. I don't know if she'd ever take me back, but that hasn't stopped me from working actively to grow up and be a better man.
"I felt like I was able..."
Going to automotive school felt like the biggest change for me. Until then, I was extremely shy and had what I thought was really bad social anxiety. When I was first there, nobody knew what my voice sounded like for the first month or so that I went there. Somehow, things just clicked and I found myself much more eager to communicate and initiate conversation myself (whereas my helicopter mother usually spoke for me, interrupting me if I tried). Not to mention being away from my mother helped me realized how screwed up she is. I felt like I was able to start actually doing basic things on my own.