It’s hard to know when you’ve arrived at the altar of adulthood. Most people I know say they are grown-ups in name only, as they forget to schedule dentist’s appointments, order pizza past 10 p.m., and feel like impostors in big kids clothes at work. But viewing ourselves this way renders the concept of adulthood= more important than its constituents. We’re real; the stereotype isn’t. If we’re all falling short of the bar, maybe we’re not using the right measuring tools.
In the spirit of adjusting expectations to fit reality, I’ve established some tiny measures of progress that indicate maturity by *human* standards, according to your astrological sign. These are the little habits and behaviors that mark the incremental steps on the road to adulthood—which has, of course, no real destination at all.
Aries: Cutting the tags off your new clothes instead of ripping them off.
Your exuberance is legendary, Aries, but it can be destructive. Specifically to a delicate silk top that now has a hole in it, or a bag of chips now exploded on the floor, or a love note you may have excitedly ripped from your lover’s still-trembling hands, and so forth. Your enthusiasm is your superpower (I don’t say this lightly; you are the sign of superheroes) and the tempering influence of adulthood shall not tame your fire. But it’s the mature ram who patiently walks to their drawer, pulls out the scissors, and cuts off the tags before getting into their new outfit, in which you’ll save a cat and stand up to a bully and sweat through your new shirt by noon. Just a typical day for your friendly neighborhood Aries.
Taurus: You volunteer the full details in a text.
Getting information out of a Taurus is hard enough in person, but over text the silence takes on the visual shape of a one-sided helix. It’s your nature, bulls, to withhold all but the most important information. Under your graceful surface, you’re a hot spring of emotion and complex desires. You prefer to take your time sorting through all that, which is a healthy luxury people rarely grant themselves. That patience makes you one of the wisest in all the zodiac, and your counsel is in high demand. But if a friend makes plans to seek your advice in person, it can feel all too natural to provide a paucity of details. What corner exactly? Is there parking? Did you mean 9 a.m. or p.m.? Making sure others have the who-what-where-when is not an overshare, Taurus. And you’ve arrived at adulthood when you can quickly part with the negative space you’ve curated in your phone to provide all the details.
Gemini: You’re not a spoiler monster anymore.
Here are some facts: Geminis old and young are always going to want to acquire information and share it with someone else. We can’t get down on you for that, little messengers that you are. Plus we love gossip. But most people don’t love spoilers, and it’s a classic Geminian habit to want to break the news of a juicy plot development to… anyone. Actually, everyone. The sooner the facts enter common domain, the sooner you can share your nuanced analysis, and then the really good conversation can begin. But no canary can sing all the time (and still be welcomed into canary society), and a grown-up Gemini knows they’ll need to honor a healthy quiet period after a movie premieres or a new episode airs. (The precise length of that quiet period, however, being entirely up for debate…)
Cancer: Stating your news instead of coyly trying to get someone to ask you.
Cancers have their pride. You give a lot, and you need a lot, and that’s absolutely fine. But as an emotional, intuitive water sign, you crabs would prefer to sidestep the direct negotiations. It’d be so much easier, wouldn’t you agree, if everyone picked up on the intense emotional vibes you’re clearly giving off, ran them through their limbic systems, and understood that you had a big weekend and you want to talk about it? If only, Cancer, if only. Your taste for the subtle approach is not to be discounted—it makes you both effective and sensitive, a rare combination of qualities. But an evolved Cancer knows there’s no shame in asking for a little attention now and then. The shortest distance between you and what you want is a little vulnerability. That’s way more mature than seething with resentment because no one else can read your (very loud!) mind.
Leo: You can apologize without making it a whole production.
Leos love a production because what is life but drama. That sounds much more sinister than it is. Leos are simply attuned to the crests and valleys of human relationships, and they love it. They love people, and all people move through cycles of want, exploration, indulgence, disappointment, and acceptance. So when a Leo is in the wrong, they often overdo it with the apologies. They want to give you a big bear hug, they want to cry in front of you, they want you to hear the full-on toast they’ve been writing in their heads ever since you became friends. But while that impulse comes from a benevolent place, it doesn’t always consider the needs of the actual person they love. And the ability to shelve the theatrics and save the toast for a wedding or birthday is how you know you’re not a lion cub anymore.
Virgo: Opening a box of cereal when you aren’t done with the first.
Maybe it’s not cereal. Maybe it’s a new striped sweater or a novel or a Netflix show (I know, I know: “It’s in the queue!”). But no matter how much you want to experience y, you won’t allow it if you haven’t yet consumed x. You have a system after all, and I would never suggest that you abandon it. Your way of doing things has kept you safe and clean and maybe even happy over the course of your life, and it deserves your respect and appreciation. But as you grow, you may come to relax your laws into something more akin to guidelines or principles. In other words, let your preferred order of operations dictate what should happen but not what must happen. A little flexibility will not introduce chaos into your pristine world. Mature Virgos can—once in a while—read two books at once or abandon a show to watch whatever your Gemini friends are trying not to spoil for you.
Libra: Not asking for reassurance for your quirks.
It’s not just a Libra thing to want to be liked; most of us crave acceptance in some form from external audiences. But it’s a common Libra refrain to pose their insecurities as requests for approval: “Is it weird if I do this?” “Would you still be friends with me if I did that?” No and yes, Libra! You all come from a place of wanting balance—you don’t want to emphasize your own opinion over the input of the people you love and respect most. But an older and wiser Libra knows when feedback is important and when to own the final decision, and when it comes to your little personality quirks, those are yours alone to express and celebrate. It doesn’t mean it won’t sting if you come across someone who does actually think you’re too weird to be friends with, but truly that person is not for you and doesn’t belong in your delightfully curated world.
Scorpio: When you finally nail your haircut.
This is a milestone for anyone, Scorpio, but you are especially built for a signature look. This isn’t just about aesthetics—maybe it’s not a haircut, but a uniform or a morning ritual or a go-to cocktail—Scorpios are all about the slow and steady accumulation of self. You’re building a masterpiece, as Betty Draper’s mother once instructed her to think about her beauty, and, if you’ll indulge the slight metaphysics, each moment we’re alive, we add a little bit to one identity we build over time. Your strength is to know yourself and dig into what that means. You won’t betray it for something as tawdry as a fad or for the sake of change. You think (famous Scorpio) Anna Wintour is ever going to switch up her bob? When a Scorpio has figured out their hair (or their look, or whatnot), they don’t go back.
Sagittarius: Opting not to send the explosive email.
As the jovial provocateurs of the zodiac, Sagittarians can get away with extended adolescence without much of a struggle. They have all the markings of maturity—intellectual rigor, grand ambitions, worldliness, etc. But all those skills can provide legitimate cover for pettiness when you really want to piss someone off. What makes you so great, Sagittarius, is that you’re genuinely fun and playful while being so clever. But not everything is a game, and not everyone will agree to your rules. It’s too often that a Sagittarius will respond to a slight with a devastating comment designed to hit them where they’re soft while affording you plausible deniability. But the difference between an immature Sagittarius and a grown-up centaur is this: Before you type out your veiled venom, can you pause long enough to allow your better angel to advise you against it. It takes a lot of maturity to swallow a good dig, especially one as well written as yours would have been.
Capricorn: When you look up details instead of asking your friends to do it for you.
The truth is, the goats are already grown up. Capricorn is the sign of maturity, responsibility, and stability. The reason you’re so often cast in a CEO-type role is that you actually embody the qualities that make for good leadership. In other words, you inspire trust because you’re actually trustworthy. But the next level of maturity is knowing when you’re actually the boss and when you’re one of the people. And when you’re one of the people, you can’t really delegate in the same way. Sure, you can do people favors and vice versa, but repeatedly asking someone to forward you a message that’s already in your inbox or text you directions when you could just look it up can make people feel like they are your assistant. Some people are your assistant, and then that’s fine! But when Googling something yourself before putting someone else on the case becomes reflexive, that’s when you know you’re all grown up.
Aquarius: You stop cursing at the computer when it takes a while to load.
Aquarians have no time for slow technology. As the sign of innovation and cutting edge systems, it can be harder on them than others when a device takes a full freaking minute to start up. The water bearers are fundamentally interested in progress, which means a world that is better today than it was yesterday. So how are you supposed to keep it together when your phone is glitching like it’s 2003? It’s never going to be fun to wait for machines when the computer in your head is humming at a rapid pace. But the process of growing up means accepting life the way it is now, not as you would reform it. And if your goddamn internet would just work, you could actually begin drafting all your grand plans for revolution (or at least your funny tweet)…
Pisces: You take an umbrella with you when it’s raining out.
You are a dreamy sort, Pisces, who doesn’t like to be weighed down by material objects when the intangible world you inhabit is already so heavy. A lightness of being is what you crave, and you may barely perceive the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops upon your forehead when you walk outside without the protection of an umbrella or even a baseball cap. Pisces energy is about the dissolution of borders, about connecting to the oneness that unites all things in the universe. But as emotionally true as that is, it is also true that you are a physical body out in the world. And deep down, you don’t want to be wet. It takes real maturity for an astrological fish to admit when they want to be out of water, and a grown up Pisces will, with a tinge of melancholy, grab an umbrella when they know a downpour is coming. (And, in a way, a downpour is always coming.)
Graphic by Madeline Montoya.