"Adulting" is a blog, a book, a zillion different memes. It's a verb that still gets snagged by spellcheck. It can mean doing the dishes, knowing what time the post office closes, waking up on time by yourself as a 20-something young adult. Taking care of yourself for the first time. It's an issue of privilege. And lots of people don't like it.
(It's privileged because there are millions of young adults in the world who don't have the time/energy/money to spend bemoaning their childhoods quickly receding in the rearview mirror. They're too busy surviving. Let's make that clear.)
So yeah, looking at the term "adulting" in the context of privilege, the argument can be made that we should all know how to do that basic shit – keeping ourselves alive, living in relative cleanliness, paying our bills on time. "Adulting is a term most often used when a person fulfills a basic prerequisite of adulthood and wants to feel special," Jezebel's Madeleine Davies wrote in a deprecating piece lambasting young adults who use the word. "[W]hen it comes down to getting shit done, it’s time to put aside your need to feel special and praised and simply do your adult diligence without putting a cute word on it. Pay your bills, clean your rented apartment, and show up to work on time. Or don’t, and face the consequences."
Cosmopolitan's Danielle Tullo joined in. "It's a singularly millennial — especially female, at that — immaturity that reduces being a grown-up to a hobby. ...Instead of devaluing ourselves and our generation, we need to know what's worth celebrating and celebrate it. It's great that I didn't turn my white T-shirt pink when I did my own laundry, but that's not the greatest thing I've done or will ever do as an adult. So, let's retire #adulting, so we can actually start to act like adults."
(An aside: Read the rest of Tullo's piece for background about the "especially female" thing. I get what she's saying – women have a reputation for being historically more uncomfortable than men around self-promoting and celebrating achievements, and we should all feel empowered and able to share whatever we want – but why shame women for, ya know, celebrating whatever it is they want to celebrate?)
By and large, millenials are going through life stages later than generations that have come before us. That includes getting married, buying a house, etc. The age of first-time mothers is at a historic high of 26 years old, according to TIME. So maybe that explains why some of the regular tasks of adulthood can feel new, satisfying, maybe even worth a tweet.
I'm going to be 29 years old in about a minute. I regularly do laundry, cook meals from scratch, try to go the extra mile at work, and send birthday cards on time. I've had a job (at least one) for 15 years. I pay bills, I pick up the dog's poop, I meal plan. I'm used to adulting.
But you know what? There are some days when yes, I would like an award for getting my oil changed on time. Maybe a ribbon for remembering to clean the coffee pot. Or a trophy for bringing my own lunch to work instead of going out. I don't know if it's because I live with anxiety, or if it's just that hard days are hard for everybody. But I think it's okay to celebrate separating your darks and lights when you feel like you can barely get out of bed. I think "adulting" identifies small opportunities for humor despite the bleak outlook of economy, real estate, job market, etc., etc. that so many millenials have to stare down daily. I think it kind of creates community, a shared understanding of the fact that sometimes things suck, but at least we didn't leave the groceries in the car.
What do you think of the term "adulting"? Do you find it immature or accurate?
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