If “adulting” is synonymous with being responsible for your finances, doing your laundry before you run out of clean underwear, having health insurance, and changing your oil on time, well then, we’ve set the bar really low.
No one knows how to “adult.” That’s the set up and the punch line to the joke that we Millennials keep telling. But it’s true. Anyone who smugly claims that they know how to “adult” (wonderful, mystical creatures that they are) is lying. Your Vinyasa flow yoga instructor doesn’t know, your dentist with three kids and one on the way doesn’t know, your pretentious ex who runs a popular start-up doesn’t know, and, yes, even your therapist doesn’t know. They, much like you, are making it up as they go. We’re improvising like hell.
This strange term of endearment, “adulting,” has been self-consciously overused by Millennials (myself included), and it needs to be eradicated. It’s a word so bastardized by the collective social conscience that it has lost all meaning.
There is no such thing as being a real adult because everyone’s style of personal evolution is varied. If you’re waiting for the day when you finally feel like you’ve arrived at Adulthood Station, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Life is happening now. You are growing older every minute. And your choices dictate your priorities. Good thing is, you get to decide what those priorities are going to be. In the words of Britney, “that’s my prerogative.”
Yes, there are ample blueprints passed down from our loving moms and pops on how to live life, but they were “adulting” in the 80s and 90s. We have inherited a world wrought with this painful paradox—though most Millennials are better educated than our predecessors, there are far fewer jobs and chances for upward mobility. We are expected to work for free, to whore ourselves out to the man in hopes of climbing a ladder that no longer exists. So what do we do?
We do not make like our forefathers. We do not take a safety job. Instead, we chase careers that we actually like and feed ourselves with day jobs that are tolerable. We make up our roles—build companies and become our own bosses. We create our own content, start production companies, and hire the tribe of people we want to work with. We get by, we hustle, and we don’t get too comfortable.
Our “adulting,” or our lifestyle choices, may or may not look similar to our parents’ versions of “adulting.” And that is OK. Indeed, the ways in which Millennials are choosing to live as we age is vastly different. We care less about material accumulation. We’d rather travel to new places than be saddled with a mortgage—and, truthfully, we can’t afford to buy a house even if we wanted. We put off having families until a little later and we are far more open minded about social justice. If “adulting” is really just synonymous with being responsible for your finances, doing your laundry before you run out of clean underwear, having health insurance, and changing your oil on time, well then, we’ve set the bar really low.
“Adulting” seems to solely glorify the completion of a series of menial tasks instead of encouraging a continual, arduous personal evolution. The issue is that once you think you’ve arrived or that you know something that everyone else doesn’t, you begin to like yourself incrementally, you might even think you’ve made it, that you get it, that you are on top of your game. And that, my friend, is when you invite Mr. Complacency into your bed. He may be sexy, but he will make you think you are a sex goddess who can just lie on his or her back and do nothing.
Don’t be the person who lies on his or her proverbial (or literal) back and does nothing simply because you’ve “arrived.” Do not go to bed complacent. It is all right to pat yourself on the back, to self-love and appreciate, and to experience genuine gratitude. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that you know how to “adult.”
Let’s not adult at all. Let’s just be who we are in the specific moment of history we’ve been given. In spite of everything, I’d still like to think that Millennials are the shiny beacon of light in a shit storm of national debt and daily mass shootings and trans phobia and the aftershocks that keep rippling and ravaging minorities. This is the world we’ve inherited. Being an adult is being a basic bitch. It’s tired. Instead, let’s be what we are—simultaneously old and young. Let us not be a parody of our predecessors, but draw our own damn blueprint.
Yes, we will all inevitably age and grey and wither, but I’m all for skipping adulthood. Enveloping ourselves in personhood seems much more pertinent.