“Adulting (v): 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.”
It’s only a matter of time until Webster accepts this new verb created by millennials used to describe any activity they don’t actually want to do (probably still hoping to pawn off some of those responsibilities to their parents). After I turned…well after my last birthday, I realized that my parents didn’t want to “adult” as much as I didn’t.
So for those still in college, or living at home with parents who will still do your laundry, stay as long as you can. For the rest of you, here are my tips on making adulting not so adult.
Jobs will come and go…
But a career lasts a lifetime. I’m not going to tell you to quit your job and follow your passion because the rest of the internet is already telling you to do so. But I will remind you that the job you’re currently in doesn’t have to be your career.
Job hopping doesn’t look that great on your resume. But having a bad attitude throughout a job and not getting a good reference upon leaving is worse.
Pro-tip for leaving a job like a champ: Word it for mutual benefit. “This just isn’t a good fit.” It will speak to the fact that you’re taking responsibility for your less than amazing performance, but still professional.
Buying a house sounds like a good idea…
But it’s not. I live in Austin, Texas. To rent an apartment you must sign in blood and promise your firstborn to the rental company (I’m exaggerating, but it feels like it). And rent continues to increase every year you re-sign. Looking to buy a house the mortgage is less, you don’t have to worry about parking, and you don’t have to give up your first born, but when your A/C blows in the middle of August that’s on you.
It sucks to pay for something you will never actually own, but living in an apartment where you can call someone to change a lightbulb you can’t reach, or spraying to get rid of roaches and spiders is one less adult thing you have to worry about.
Making friends in college was easy…
But adult friends don’t come as easily. Maintaining friendship during the transition from college to adulthood is more challenging because you are now fighting different schedules, events, and jobs. Plus, all your friends are going to start getting married and having babies (your screwed account will come in handy when it’s time to buys a bridesmaid’s dress or a bounce house pack ‘n play).
The amount of close friends you have starts to decrease as you get older, don’t be alarmed, focus on quality friendships rather than quantity. Keep in touch with friends who will be there when you need help, not just the ones down to party every Saturday night. Don’t forget about your family either. Same as with your friends, keeping in touch with a quick message to let them know you are thinking about them and appreciate them can go a long way.
Your car will break-down at the same time rent is due…
But you have a “Screwed Fund” (grown ups call this “emergency savings account”). Those weeks when nothing seems to go right and all the bills are due and your boyfriend breaks up with you suck. Which is exactly why you have a separate savings account for all the times you are screwed.
Yes, your 20’s are for spending more than you should on things you won’t need in a week, month, or year; but they are also for learning to manage your money more appropriately. Since you probably have your first big kid job and are making more money, set up automatic deductions so you won’t even know it’s missing.
Pro-tip for managing money: Get a rewards credit card, if you don’t already have one. (If you do have one, be sure to make payments on time and build your credit) A rewards card will make you feel like you’re receiving gifts for paying for things you already need to pay for. It’s like free money. I like the miles rewards, because when I need a vacation from adulting my bills and broken down car have paid for it!
That Saturday night out was fun…
But head to the gym Sunday. You will probably gain the alcohol tolerance of a sailor and think that one more shot is always a good idea (which at the time probably was), but now is the time to start thinking about your health. You aren’t in college anymore so you can’t skip class to sleep off that hangover. Drink one water for every one alcoholic drink, your head tomorrow will thank you. The older you get, the worse your hangovers get—and they last longer too.
Staying active may not make up for those nights out, but it will help you in so many other ways. We all know the benefits of exercise, but it’s also important to keep your brain active. Do crossword puzzles, or Sudoku, to help keep your memory sharp. And no more microwavable noodles for dinner. You’ll eat healthier if you actually cook your meals!
You have your whole life planned out…
But it will never end up “how it’s supposed to be.” And that’s okay. Life is messy and full of surprises. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be shocked when that picture perfect life you had all figured out ends up different (and maybe even better).
If you want extra responsibility, start with a house plant, then a fish, then move up to a puppy. You already know adulting is hard, don’t make it worse for yourself. It might be hard to think about now, but putting part of your check into your 401K and staying in some weekends are beneficial to your future. It will only get more stressful as you age and take on more responsibility at work and in your personal life. So enjoy your 20s wisely. Eventually you might be that parent still doing your kids laundry while they live at home!