In defense of adulthood and growing up

If you are on the go, you can listen to the spoken word format here:

Anchor: https://anchor.fm/paola-fajardo9

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1ZilRR5gtKLhEW2o1UMSCJ

Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

A few things highly associated with the Millenial generation include social media, skinny jeans, avocado toast, and the word: adulting. According to the Oxford dictionary, it is an informal word that means “The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” It was so hyped up in the middle 2010s (also the decade of my 20s) that everything my peers did was labeled as “Adulting”. ( I may or may not have used the word). It was such a big deal for us because we are a generation who did not have to do these things as soon as we were 18. You can say many of us were so spoiled and privileged that it became both daunting and an achievement to do “normal” adult tasks like buying a house, pay taxes, cleaning and organizing the pantry, etc. 

Adulting became a required task for me because I had to start earlier than some of my peers. When I was 22, my parents moved to another country, and my sisters and I had to live independently as we did not have many resources. The beginning of adulting was challenging for me financially as I was earning so little at that time. However, apart from financials, it was enjoyable for me even at the onset. As the youngest in our family (and everywhere else because my birthday is in December), I have always been surrounded by people older than me. As such, I was more used to seeing how adults around me lived their lives. I aspired to become like them, as in I wanted to grow up fast. So when I finally had to start adulting, it wasn’t as challenging as it was for my peers. 

Photo by Jamie Sullivan via Unsplash

As overused as the word adulting is, I understand this word has a negative connotation to my generation. It’s attached to feelings of dread, boredom, inadequacy, and feeling lost because we don’t feel equipped and ready to handle all these responsibilities. On top of that, I feel like the media’s portrayal of adulthood negatively influenced how we millennials view adult life. Adults are portrayed as people who lost their dreams and goals, boring, unattractive, disillusioned, a sellout to the system, etc. I beg to disagree with these assumptions. I really resonate with what Jane Fonda said in her interview with Harper’s Bazaar: It’s really hard to be young. Like her, we have to flounder around (some of us for a long time) to gain our footing in this world. When we were young, we had a lot of insecurities, we did not know who we were, what we wanted, how to get what we want, what our purpose is. We had a very limited few of the world (i.e. We think the world revolves around us). Some of us had to carry the burdens of being mistreated by our parents, our peers, or other people around us. To me, becoming an adult, in this day and age, is a gift. 

Photo by Alexandra Kirr via Unsplash

According to The video Why Slow Adulting is a Good Thing from The Take (my favorite YT channel for pop culture commentary), how millennials adult now is different from how our parents and grandparents did. First marriages now start at the age of 30 whereas Gen X was around 25, and Baby Boomers, much younger than that. Which meant they would have already “figured out” their careers, finances, interests before getting married and starting a family. That sure feels like limited time, sometimes even no time for the “figuring out stage”. Some people got married and have kids right after college or high school. There have been several studies showing that our brains fully develop at least the age of 25. For us Millennials, we have that long stretch of our 20s to build our careers, explore and pursue our interests, find our purpose and establish our core beliefs, and learn from relationships before getting married and / or having children. I believe we should celebrate that. The gift, the privilege of being an adult in this day and age allows us to become fully developed adults who can live our best lives because we know better. This gift allows us to be secure of ourselves, which will reflect in our life choices and how those choices turn out. Also, the gift of adulthood gives us access to hindsight. As we know, hindsight is 20/20. Having that ability to see things with a clearer and wider perspective allows us to correct our mistakes and be wiser. 

It’s high time for us to celebrate the gifts that adulthood has for us. While some are already saddled with heavy responsibilities, may we all find opportunities to be grateful for what adulting teaches. These intimidating responsibilities and events are all part and parcel of our existence and a lifelong process. Fortunately, we don’t need to figure everything out in an instant, because we have the concession of adulting slowly but surely. 

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