For those of you who are actual adults, you may not be aware that you’re involved in a new millennial sport, and perhaps have been for some time: adulting.
Adulting, best preceded by a hashtag (#adulting), is an activity where people who are actual adults (over the age of 20) act like adults, but don’t feel like adults, so they feel the need to draw attention to their adulting via social media posts and verbal cues.
The sport can include practical tasks that regular adults achieve without much notice. But when millennials engage in these tasks, they are pleasantly surprised by their own competence. Examples include making and keeping one’s own dentist appointments, cleaning up one’s room, and bringing one’s own dishes downstairs to the kitchen (time lapse possible).
But then there are some parts of adulting that are less definable.
For instance, I’ve noted to my kids that most of adulting is pretending that awkward things aren’t awkward. Like when you bump into the guy you dumped at Nordstrom Rack. And you have to act normal and pretend it’s not awkward, as opposed to high school, when you would hide in the bathroom. Or when your student’s parents, whom you have to conference with at school, also happen to be your neighbors, and you have to be both friendly and professional and pretend it’s not awkward. Or when you’re babysitting somewhere and they forget to pay you and you have to speak up or say no or be assertive. This is all adulting.
Also, adulting involves activities I never had to choose at that tender age, like making actual phone calls instead of texting, and learning which conversations are fine for texting, and which mandate a phone call (there’s an app for that, millennials) and which require a face-to-face conversation. And for the in-person conversations, I refer you back to the “awkward” point.
When I was the age of my millennials we had two options: phone or face. Hiding behind your screen wasn’t a choice, so you just had to swallow hard and actually talk. But now real talking is part of adulting. Because having real conversations is hard and uncomfortable and sensitive. And dealing with all of that is certainly adulting. Having hours-long texting conversations is bad for human psychology any way you slice it, so if you can overcome that, you’re officially an adult.
Adulting is also about choosing. “Mir kennisht tantzin fun alleh chasunahs,” I was told growing up, which is Yiddish for “you can’t dance at every wedding.” You might want to be everywhere all the time (or nowhere, for you introverts) but when adulting you will have to choose. The root of the Latin word “decide” means to “cut off” or “kill” (like homicide). Because when you make a choice, you are effectively killing off all your other options. You can’t keep all your options open and still be an adult. Eventually you will have to choose a job, choose an activity, choose a home, choose a spouse, choose how you are going to spend your evening, your money, your affection, your vacation.
You may find that your best friend’s graduation is the same night as a family friend’s bar mitzvah. You will need to choose. You can only afford $100 worth of extras this month. What will you say no to? This is all adulting.
Finally, adulting, although many adults haven’t learned this yet, is about reminding yourself. If you find yourself saying “hey, can you remind me…?” then you are definitely opting out of adulting. I don’t need to set myself a reminder to remind you about your appointment or birthday party or responsibility. (There’s an app for that too.) Remind yourself, darling. Welcome to adulthood.
So now quiz yourself – Am I Adulting? Because if you’re engaged in responsible behavior with regularity, having difficult conversations while deep-breathing through the awkwardness, mindfully making choices while realizing you can’t have everything, and reminding yourself to do your stuff, then mazel tov. You are #adulting.
Go ahead, post it on Instagram. You’ve earned it.