I’m writing this post on the WordPress app from the lobby of my local bank, where I’m waiting to open a savings account and order checks for my checking account, and one word is reverberating through my head loud enough to drown out the whiny Muzak being pumped through the bank lobby:
Adulting: I hate the word. It’s a trendy slang associated with millennials, an age group that incorporates everyone from the newly-born to 40-somethings. Whether you’re 13 or 31, if you’re a Millennial and you’re doing something boring but necessary, suddenly you’re “Adulting.”
Adulting covers such a wide range of activities and is open to a variety of interpretations. Basically, anything you do that isn’t something a child regularly does can be construed as “Adulting.” Calling your insurance company. Going to work. Buying toilet paper. Mailing a Mother’s Day card a full week ahead of Mother’s Day so it arrives on time. The list goes on and on.
When you announce that you’re “Adulting,” you’re broadcasting that you’ve internalized all of the bullshit negativity about Millenials that everyone under the age of 50 is subjected to on a daily basis. That we’re lazy, self-absorbed brats with Peter Pan complexes. “BUT IM ADULTING!!!” You protest. To whom? And why? What have you got to prove? If you truly didn’t believe in all the hype about how inept Millennials are, you wouldn’t need a catchphrase for remembering to buy toothpaste or show up early to your yearly doctor’s checkup.
I think it would be irresponsible not to propose the idea that “Adulting” is unfair and unattainable for most of us, anyway. If you’re 25 years old, and you’re grading your success at “Adulting” against your 60-year-old parents, OF COURSE YOURE GOING TO FAIL. You can’t possibly have as much savings as them, as much life experience as them, as much wisdom as them. You just can’t. Adulting isn’t an achievement you unlock the one time you pay your taxes by yourself – and if you have to ask Twitter afterwards “just filed my taxes am I Adulting yet?” Then maybe you already know the answer.
Or maybe it’s because Adulting is a myth that nobody has figured out yet. I remember being 25 and working as a personal assistant to a man twice my age – a man who, compared to me, was an “adult.” He owned his apartment and had his own business. But he needed to pay me, basically a teenager, to run his life for him. Without me, he’d never make deposits on time, routinely forgot to do payroll, neglected to feed his cats, couldn’t keep the schedule for his housekeeper, and ate takeout whenever I wasn’t there to make him sandwiches. Meanwhile, I was in charge of sending and receiving mail, picking up and dropping off his laundry, and talking to people on the phone because he hadn’t learned how to have a productive conversation without throwing a tantrum and screaming obscenities. So I ask you: who was the adult?
I love that you’re kicking ass out there in the world. Good for you, taking care of your life and learning how to take care of your own shit. Whether you work your way slowly up to responsibilities or have them thrust upon you, you should be proud of your everyday accomplishments! So why would you frame them in such a dubiously self-judgmental and oblique way? Let’s just stop buying into the myth of “Adulting” altogether and not let our successes be defined or diminished by comparing ourselves to others’ or to their negative preconceived notions of us. And remember: behind every “Adult” is a legion of service workers without whom they couldn’t function on a daily basis. Assistants, seamless delivery people, laundry dropoff service. Humble thyself and ask this: if you had to “adult” all on your own, would you be a #AdultingFail?
You heard me. I’m not “adulting” anymore. I’m just living my damn life, and if that means washing dishes and laundry both on the same day, I’m not going to brag about it. That’s not “adulting.” That’s just being an adult.