Adulting For The Win

So, if you read through some of the top entries in Google about the term “adulting” you will find that it’s been accepted by Merriam-Webster, written about in Cosmopolitan, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes and even Time Magazine’s online archives. You may also notice that the word has become highly contagious, and highly debated between twenty-something’s and thirty-somethings.

I have not lived in the States for a long time, so I will be the first to tell you that this article is just my first impression of the word after consulting the oracle.

I first saw this term used by my sister this morning in an e-mail she wrote me. Being the absent, traveling, smartphoneless brother I am, and being a thirty-something, I had no idea what the word meant.

If you read any of the articles from the top five or six entries you will see that the term is debated on account of being mainly used in a sexist manner by young women who are ironically bashing themselves as responsible women… Other writers simply think that this is the millennial’s way of trying to stay young in a society which tells them that being young is the only time when their life is meaningful.

I offer up a different perspective. Adulting is a word which serves as a rejection of western society’s idea of what it means to be an adult. This is simply a change of perspective in the younger generations who are grasping at ways to dismember the patchwork system of thought their ancestors laid before them. Namely, I think we all recall the American Dream which is still alive and well, albeit evolved and very different from the dream which it started out being. That being said, the dream itself is simply the societal ideal of “success”. Instead of being represented by a white-picket fence, two children and a dog in a family of all “same-race” heterosexuals with no psychological problems, it’s now represented by being young, beautiful and having lots of stuff with the least amount of responsibility possible, while still seeming to be a responsible adult.

Adulting can either be seen as a simple logical outcome of the American Dream or it can be seen as the rejection of the old model. I’m not going to be the one to kick dirt in your face and ruin your idea of freedom, but I will say that it’s blatantly obvious to see when you’re a child that being an adult means slaving the rest of your life away for some cause or another, be it family, duty, or drug addiction. Who really wants that?

You can give one of the old “adult” excuses like “doing menial tasks you don’t want to do is just part of life”, but those types of excuses sound more to me like the lie you tell yourself while you’re doing those menial tasks in order to make them easier. It sounds like the type of excuse a slave would tell himself while he’s out doing tasks for his master. It’s not to say that “adults” in our society are slaves, but simply that possession goes both ways.

Do you really have your car, or does your car have you? Who works harder for the other? Your car won’t work for you unless you work for it first, by buying it (usually people put themselves in debt with a bank for that), or by feeding it gasoline daily. You work for your car which works for you so that you can go work for someone else and make money to feed your car more gas and work for all of the rest of your possessions: your family, your house, your cable subscription, your phone bill, your job. But yet, you say this is what life is. You say that life is this way for a “responsible adult” because in reality, that’s all you ever have known life to be. Like a slave accepts a whip. It’s not that you are right about life, it’s that you are ignorant about it but pretend to be right. That is what we are selling to our young people as “being an adult”.

So as you can see, this can quickly turn into a completely different conversation about slavery and possession, but to keep it short, let’s just say that adulting is by far the most interesting word I’ve come across this year and it’s going to be a good show watching all of the pedants and pundits duke it out about how young people should think about it. Just remember young people, adulting is not for you.