The #Adulting Trend: Funny And Light Or Deep And Real
Politics and Activism

The #Adulting Trend: Funny And Light Or Deep And Real

Is "adulting" even a real word? What does it mean?


I have a joke running with some friends about the word “adulting." My friend Cat doesn’t think it is a real word with any real meaning. Her sister Rachael made me a shirt that says #adulting on it in support of my use of the word.

So what is “adulting” and do you think it’s a real thing?

The top definition of “adulting” on Urban Dictionary is:

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.

Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

#adulting #responsible #responsibilities #bills #grown up

Here’s how I view adulting. I’m 28-years-old and consider myself a millennial (generally speaking millennials are anyone born in the early 1980s through around 2000). While doing some quick research on how the hashtag is used across the internet, I found it to be interpreted in many ways. I like to use the word adulting, and often see it used by others, when carrying out normal functions one is expected to do as an adult. Those types of posts include (the first being one of my own):

I'm eating a salad with sprouts! And it's about 50-50 greens to toppings. ‪#‎adulting

Bought new furniture today. ‪#‎Adulting‬

What is this?! I literally just deep cleaned the entire apartment. #adulting

It's official! We're homeowners! ‪#‎adulting

Then there are the things that we’ve been watching our parents do for years that we definitely should have figured out by now or those things our parents did for us for too long and now we feel especially accomplished for doing such tasks.

Mum sat me down & explained that the dishwasher tablets need taken out of the foil wrapper before putting them in the machine #adulting

Paid my first copay on Dr visit w new insurance. ‪#‎Adulting‬

And finally, my favorite, the “I get to eat whatever I want because I’m an adult now” posts.

I just ate chips and guac for breakfast #adulting

I had a protein shake and Reese's #Adulting

I've had three desserts and a wine for dinner. #adulting

Went to the grocery store just to buy chips, ice cream, and cookies. #adulting

Millennials are the “everyone gets a trophy” generation. I understand that we seem to be celebrating ridiculous milestones or daily life events just to get a little boost of confidence or pat on the back (or a sticker, as seen below). I am quite biased, since I’m a millennial myself, but I feel this adds to our generation’s quirkiness and charm (I'm only a little sarcastic about that).

But there is a downside to the way our generation was raised and the way of youths coming after us. I remember taking a family and consumer science (our version of home ec) class in middle school. We made a pin cushion then created our very own duffel bag. That was the only required class I took through middle and high school that taught me any hands-on life skills. Any class to do with cooking, wood working or other vocational/life skill was an elective. While I consider myself to be a good cook now, I know I missed out on learning some other important life skills when I should have had the time and resources to do so as a teen.

I watched a video recently (which sparked the idea for this article) about how schools should be teaching life skills again. The video alleges that 20 percent of college students can’t boil an egg (which is a sad but true story even for myself who declared yesterday that I’ll never boil eggs the “old fashioned way” again because I always fail and instead I’ll bake them in the oven like Alton Brown), 52 percent of teens cannot change a tire and 70 percent of young people can’t sew a button. A clip in the video has a woman declaring that young people are always ordering food because they don’t know how to cook. I have absolutely no financial planning or management skills after attending school for 17+ years of my life. These issues could not be more real and they’re going to be problematic as people in my generation and the one after grow up. Students of all ages (from kindergarten to college) should be learning about cooking, first aid, time management, budgeting, healthcare and simply how to hold a conversation with another person.

#Adulting brings us together on social media. In the time it took me to write this article (about 30 minutes off and on), almost 75 people tweeted using #adulting. We often use #adulting when doing the things that make us realize being an “adult” isn’t fun and we want to go back to the way things were when mommy and daddy took such good care of us-- when they paid the bills, bought us food and called to make our doctor's appointments. I believe this also has a lot to do with how many college graduates move back home with their parents for a year or two (or more). The real world is intimidating and without knowing basic life skills, it is hard to be out on your own and to cope with the responsibilities you now have (like paying bills, finding health insurance or home care and repair).

So while the word “adulting” may or not be real (it is not recognized in the Merriam-Webster dictionary… yet), it certainly has real meaning to people like me. It is both a funny way to congratulate ourselves for simple things, a way to connect to others in our generation who are going through the same things like buying a house for the first time or figuring out how to grocery shop and sometimes it is a cry for help. As millennials I think it is our duty to advocate for classes being added back into the curriculum in our schools to teach young people the kinds of things we missed out on. Every generation wants to leave a lasting impression on the next, and I think advocating for life skills courses is one way we can improve life for those who come after us.
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