Essays

“Adulting” needs to stop being a thing

It’s not a word.

I know that it got added to the dictionary and the world moves on, change happens, and so it technically is a word, it is a verbization (ha, is that a word?! I challenge you to look it up) of a noun, and it has become a “thing” amongst the many, many things we are all being hit with on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

“Adulting” – how well are you doing it?

And, while I am far from “get off my lawn” stage, I have always admitted to being a slight curmudgeon about things. Of course, the things I turn into a prickly hedgehog about are often the things that I am sensitive about – projection, know thyself – but that, in and of itself, does not make my sensitivity wrong.

And adulting is a place where I am willing to plant my flag on saying enough because I am sick and tired of it.

My friend sent me an article to read this morning from Quartz titled “The ‘mom-on-demand’ economy is indulging our inner teenager.” He sent it with the brief comment of “Ladies and gentlemen, start your rage engines.”

He knows me so well.

I first read it and responded that I wasn’t truly upset and that I’d become immune to these articles. But, then I kept writing him another text and another, and now here I am writing this post. I’m aggravated at the broader concept, or bastardization of the concept of adulthood!

Now, I don’t want to revert to adulthood being a thing to be attained by checking off a set of generic boxes (graduate high school, graduate college, meet someone, get married, have children, retire, die), because every person’s life journey is unique, or it should be. Rather, I have a problem with standard expectations being so lowered that we need to categorize activities as “adult” versus not.

  1. I have a spice rack. My fridge is fully stocked. I like to cook. If I liked to cook and I didn’t have a spice rack, and my fridge were empty, I’d be an idiot, hungry, and a bad cook. That’s not adulting, it’s just life.
  2. I have an apartment that has furniture in it. It is decorated, perhaps even stylish. I try to keep it mostly clean. Everything has a place. That’s not adulting, it’s just making sure the space I live in is comfortable.
  3. I know what a check is and I write checks, sometimes. That’s not adulting, that’s just understanding the usage of financial instruments. Do you use cash? Yes. A debit card? Yes. All of those are financial instruments, a check is just another type.
  4. I get my laundry done on a regular basis and I don’t leave it all over the floor. That’s not adulting, it’s just being clean.
  5. I can make decisions without calling my mother for review and approval. That’s not … well, it’s not adulting, but it is certainly called being an adult.

I’m sick of the cute phrases for standard life activities. When we’re younger, our parents do a lot for us, and as we get older, we should start doing more of those things for ourselves. If we can afford to hire people to do much of it for us, well, you’re fortunate, I won’t begrudge you that good fortune. That said, you’ve been infantilized – watch the movie “Two Weeks Notice” with Hugh Grant. Are you Hugh? Don’t be Hugh.

For everybody else, don’t infantilize yourself. Sure, if a task is getting into specialty areas, call a contractor or a handyman, no one needs you destroying the plumbing in your apartment or your house. But, hanging curtains? Putting together furniture from IKEA? Cooking? Just do it! Don’t go take an “adulting class” (oh, please don’t), get a book, hell, even listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video or I don’t know…

Think about it. Try something? Take a risk! How do you think other people figured it out? Some of us had parents who taught us, but not everyone. And nearly every skill had to be learned first by someone who didn’t have a teacher. I’m not saying go back to the stone ages here, but maybe you try Blue Apron for a couple of weeks and then you start paying attention to what you’re doing so you don’t need to keep ordering? Or, do fundamentals, actually just take a cooking class – it’s fun, it’s a great date night or friend hang, and you learn a skill.

There are so many ways to learn and do things on your own and you don’t need to call it “adulting” to do it. It’s just life. It’s living. It’s being present – sorry, forgive me that phrase, but it works here – it’s being present across all areas of your life instead of just identifying with your work and outsourcing everything else to be somebody else’s work. We are not a group of machines in a factory – we’re human beings. Stop letting your Future Self down by laying back, throwing up your hands, and saying “I can’t, it’s too stressful, I’m just not adulting well.”

Enough. Stop adulting and start living. Please, please for the sake of humanity and future generations, please!

[end Sunday morning curmudgeon rant]

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