Millennials: We’ve Gotta Stop ‘Adulting’
By constantly praising each other for "adulting," we prevent ourselves from becoming full adults.
Fellow Gen Y-ers, join me on an important quest. Vanquish the “adulting” beast before we loose it on unsuspecting Generation Z, or our future children.
“Adult” used to be a trusty word describing a grown human being. Its reinvention into a verb denoting basic responsibilities started out innocently enough. At least for me.
I first heard the term in college. My roommates and I would laugh as we reminisced about simpler times when we didn’t have to pay for car repairs and plan meals. A.K.A. “adult.”
In the words of Tywin Lannister, “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”
Don’t get me wrong. I reveled in my burgeoning independence. Even still, whining “adulting is hard” sometimes offered welcome comic relief. Especially after gazing upon the mountain of laundry that threatened to swallow me whole as I ran off to Spanish class. Or digging between couch cushions for enough change to buy ice cream during a study break.
But we weren’t visiting the Sofa Scholarship Fund because we were lazy snowflakes with no work ethic. We worked hard, often at multiple gigs for the hours equivalent of a full-time job. We contributed to our share of school payments, fuel, food and savings, on top of studying and going to class. (As you can understand, this is why we couldn’t afford the ice cream and also precisely why we needed it.)
But the tongue-in-cheek wallowing after a long day of “adulting” grew into something more. Something ugly. Something that dug its claws into our hides and wouldn’t let go, even after we sped off campus, diploma in hand — or somewhere back there among the trash bags full of unwashed t-shirts.
Personal example: I realized one day about a year post-college that I was spending way too much on coffee. It would be expedient to invest in a Keurig and buy a cheap brand of coffee pods in bulk. So I did. I set up the Keurig and promptly texted a picture to my old roomies with the caption, “I’m officially an adult!” One of my life-long regrets.
By constantly viewing menial tasks as an undeserved hardship, we prevent ourselves from finding joy in the every day routine.
See, saving money by making coffee at home instead of buying a ridiculously over-priced latte everyday was a wise decision. A responsible decision. You might even say … an adult decision. Bragging to my peers, as if having a Keurig in my kitchen somehow made me grown-up, was not.
In the words of Tywin Lannister, “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.” Any millennial who must say “I’m adulting” is no true adult.
Forever Young (In a Bad, Selfish Way)
“Adulting” is like the inverse of the humble brag. It allows us to complain without sounding like we’re complaining. But too easily, it makes us forget that millions of other adults are completing the same tasks we are (plus some) with nary a peep. With this magical word, we give ourselves a pass for the kind of whining that would’ve earned grandpa a trip to the woodshed. (Can you imagine your grandpa saying “I can’t adult today”?)
For some, “adulting” is an actual attempt to cope with the fact that their parents never taught them basic life skills (Exhibit A: this Adulting School in Maine). Be that as it may, an upbringing that lacked the occasional doing of chores doesn’t give one an excuse for such self-obsession. Our great-grandparents grew up during the Great Depression and then left to fight WWII, for crying out loud. I think we’ll be fine.
Further, celebrating our own grown-up-ness traps us in a perpetual state of mental adolescence. Those menial tasks we call “adulting” will be there, ever needing to be done, for the rest of our lives. By constantly viewing them as an undeserved hardship, we prevent ourselves from finding joy in the every day routine. Wonderfully, there is more to life than work, Netflix and Tumblr. When we allow ourselves to embrace all that life brings along, mundane chores included, we’ll be richer for the experience.
Also in the interest of truly staying “forever young,” wouldn’t it be better to forgo complaining altogether? If you think about it, constantly groaning about “adulting” makes us sound more like the grumpy Mrs. “Pills and Bills” Snow in Pollyanna than young adults enjoying life. Do we really want to achieve that level of crotchetiness before we’re even 35?
Our Potential Awaits Us
This is our time to start defining our legacy. To start molding the culture that will shape our future children. We can’t do that if we still demand stickers on the chore chart every time we fold laundry. Moreover — fellow Christians, I’m looking at you — we have a biblical imperative to follow. Remember that verse we all memorized and said was our favorite in youth group? Yeah, it still applies:
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
How can we set the believers an example when we treat making supper for one as an exhausting task worthy of an #adulting hashtag and a blanket fort?
I’m not bashing my peers. I’m saying this because I believe in us. Most of us are already putting in the long hours at work. We’re politically engaged and compassionate toward our neighbor. We have the potential to do great things. But our own beastly habit of classifying everyday responsibilities as “adulting” distracts us from the prize ahead.