Urban Dictionary defines ‘adulting’ as “to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.”
I think I, along with so many other millennials, started feeling like I was #adulting like 7 years ago. For me that was when I first started grad school and was truly living by myself, hundreds of miles away from, you know, the actual adults in my life. Back then #adulting involved everything from making coffee to cooking my own spaghetti or Ramen noodles or Mac n Cheese or pizza (pre-made of course), to “building” my own Ikea furniture. It included getting my car serviced by myself, learning to do my taxes by myself, and killing cockroaches all by myself (fine, the one time it happened, I trapped it under a cup, waited till my neighbor got home and then introduced myself to him for the first time before asking him to kill it for me). All of these things of course were promptly displayed on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr for the world to see with the hashtag – you guessed it – #Adulting! And meanwhile no one actually told me that hey. This is not #adulting. You are a woman-child. Doing your own laundry and knowing to separate your colors from your whites so you don’t end up with pink underwear is not #adulting. You are clueless, millennial.
None of that stuff was paid for by me, for one thing. Everything was either from my parents or thanks to my loan, or a freebie of some sort. Even the part-time job I had at the time paid for silly little everyday crap. It boggles my mind how I ever thought I was this big bad adult in the big bad world. My grasp on this ‘real world’ was weak at best, and my view of myself as some sort of responsible adult was through some of the rosiest colored glasses I could find. Honestly. I say this now in hindsight and get annoyed with millennials that are currently in their early twenties tweeting about “Cooking! #adulting” because it’s easy to do. But back then I was the same, with all the changes and all the drama of being a single, twenty-something, working (cue Indian aunties asking my mom when she’s getting me married) woman with a car, rent and disposable income, it was so easy to “feel” like a grown up. Like shit, I had real problems. Right? No worthwhile man on the horizon, Indian aunties turning up the heat (notice how it’s never your actual parents but random Indian aunties?), my biological clock ticking away, making me seriously consider freezing my eggs. This must be what #adulting is supposed to feel like. It seemed like a logical conclusion to draw.
But no. You know what it truly is? A quick glance at my fellow millennials’ lives as well as my own has unearthed the following scenarios which are proof that we have finally, as we approach our thirties, begun our #adulting journeys (but have a long way to go still):
- Putting years of travel plans on hold and focusing on a new bundle of joy
- Being so goddamn exhausted at 9pm everyday that you can barely drag yourself into your bed because even though you’ve been home all day, you have not had a single second to sit down without your newborn baby needing you for something
- Coming back home exhausted from work only to be put on daddy duty because mommy is exhausted from being with the baby all day
- Experiencing a career setback which significantly delays life plans but remaining strong and moving forward for the sake of your family
- Accepting a brand new family through your marriage and learning the intricate complexities of managing two sets of parents and siblings in a sane manner
- Buying a house – it does not get more adult than that!
- Standing up for yourself and knowing your worth at your place of employment (this has always been so difficult for us as early careerists to do)
- Letting the other person have the win from time to time and compromising your ego for the good of the relationship
- Accepting that some people, no matter how close they may have been to you in the past, will not have the courage to fight for your friendship if their new life circumstances make it difficult for your friendship to continue
- Ruthlessly removing toxic people from your life who do nothing but drain all that is positive within you
- Having the courage to say no to a loved one, even though you know how much it will hurt
- Speaking your mind without fear of judgement or rejection (this is not me, I have to work on this big time, but I am lucky to know some amazing people that have this down to a science.. man I envy them)
- Spending more time listening to and taking care of your parents’ needs because they are aging and they need you more than ever
- Understanding that you are not invincible and really starting to take care of your health
It’s not an exhaustive list, and I know it sounds preachy, but these are just real-life situations that either I have dealt with, or have watched my loved ones deal with as we approach our thirties. And even though the struggle is so real that sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand doing the worst possible thing, struggling, and thus sinking, I have hope that we are not total idiots. The scenarios above prove that while we are nothing like our Generation X parents who were actually #adulting by their early to mid-twenties, we are only like five years behind. Possibly 10. Once we catch up, with our apps and our voice activation commands and our #saltbae #mannequinchallenge #ootd #mcm #wcw selves, #adulting will be a piece of cake.