Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Adulting" is a ridiculous trend that needs to go away...

I don't know why, but it seems like the older I get, the more annoying some things are to me.  For instance, while I generally don't mind most profanity, I do get annoyed by certain words.  I hate the word, "kiddo".  I've even blogged about it.  For some reason, I cringe when I hear someone calling a child "kiddo".  It makes me think of creepy molesters.

Ditto for the now popular use of the adjective "little" used as a noun.  Instead of using the appropriate noun for a child or a kid, some people use the term "littles", as in "My littles are going to be so cute when they go trick or treating tonight."  I know... it's very anal retentive of me to object to this usage, but I do.

The non-word "adulting" is especially obnoxious to me right now.  I don't understand why we've started bastardizing this perfectly good noun into a verb.  I know, most people don't have time to think about this kind of thing.  I do.  I can either write about this, or I can watch the Duggar family on TV.  So this Halloween morning, I'm going to explain why my teeth set on edge whenever I hear someone refer to "adulting".  Those who simply want an interesting article about how we got to "adulting", can click here.

"Adulting" refers to people who have chronologically reached the age of legal majority doing things that supposedly aren't fun, like buying car insurance, paying credit card bills, or signing a lease.  It's a term typically used by young adults who are making the difficult transition from adolescent to adult.  However, it's also disturbingly used by more established adults... people who should know better.

Besides the fact that adulting is not really a word-- and when I type it, I get the squiggly red line letting me know it's not a word-- I also think there's something wrong with the mindset that being an adult is somehow not fun.  As nostalgic as I can sometimes get for fun times in my childhood, the truth is, I would not want to be a kid again.  Being a kid is not all it's cracked up to be.

My childhood was a lot harder than my adulthood has been so far.  As an adult, I have more say over my life.  When I was a kid, I lived with parents who treated me like I was an imposition and an embarrassment to them.  As an adult, I impose on my husband, but he actually likes having me around.  In between all of those arduous "adult" tasks we do like visiting the dentist and getting the oil changed, we get to travel, eat good food, drink wine, and mostly not answer to anyone but ourselves.

Another reason I dislike the term "adulting" is that I think we already live in a society that worships youth.  Although I don't really feel like it, I am a middle aged adult.  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was a teenager, but here I am watching my peers become grandparents.  If you manage to survive your youth, I think you should embrace the next life phase.  You are older, more experienced, and know better.  Act like it.  Encourage other people to respect it.

I understand that it's hard to launch into adulthood.  It was hard for me twenty plus years ago.  I think it's even worse today.  In some ways, today's young people have been coddled a lot more than kids of my generation were.  We live in an age where adults are expected to supervise their kids 24/7.  Adults don't let kids work out their differences the way they used to.  In many ways, kids are much less independent than they were.  In other ways, they are expected to be more advanced than my generation was.  Today's young people are expected to be engaged and involved in activities that will make them more attractive to universities.  Too many parents are getting involved in "helping" their kids rather than letting their kids do the work entirely on their own.  Sometimes that results in young people who are overwhelmed by the prospect of taking care of themselves.

Despite the focus on protecting and nurturing kids, we have a lot of well publicized violence in the world.  We have twelve year olds becoming so distraught about living that they jump off interstate overpasses and kill innocent people.  We have young people started on mood altering drugs when they are just kids.  We have kids hanging out online, being exposed to things people of my generation would not know about until many years later.  Despite our modern age and all its conveniences, being young probably is harder in some ways than it used to be.  Instead of simply enjoying the process of growing up, young people are dealing with a lot of stuff that my peer group didn't.  

Higher education is more expensive than ever and many young people are being saddled with onerous student loans that will take many years to retire.  Decent healthcare is in the United States is extremely expensive and plenty of people can't afford health insurance.  It takes a lot of money and a steady job to pay for a place to live, but well-paying steady work is hard to find.  Some young people marry and have children before they are financially ready, which makes things even more complicated.  I understand that making that transition to adulthood is often difficult and can be bewildering.

However, I don't think the answer to confronting the difficulty of launching is infantilizing yourself.  When you speak of "adulting", doing shit that all competent adults must do, you are not embracing what it means to be fully grown and functional.  Why should you cheer about "adulting" because you managed to cook yourself a pot of chili instead of eating a Nutella sandwich for dinner?  Why is it cute and funny to crow about "adulting" for actually washing your dirty underwear instead of spraying the crotch with Lemon Pledge?   These are things that normal, competent, healthy adults have been doing for generations.  Embrace it.

I am especially troubled when I hear young women refer to "adulting".  We women already live in a society where we are often thought of as "less" than men.  Although many brave and courageous women are standing up for equality, too many are trying to make themselves look less competent.  How can you be expect people to respect you when you're cheering about "adulting"?  That kind of mindset has an effect on everyone around you, especially on the job, among co-workers and superiors.   If you want to get ahead, you need to embrace adulthood.  So what if people think you're a bitch for being confident in your abilities to function as an adult?  Why not seize it and be proud of it?

Look at all the great things adults can do.  Adults can vote, although after the last election, I kind of wish more of them wouldn't-- at least not the ones who think Donald Trump is presidential material.  Adults can drink wine.  Or adults can choose not to drink wine.  Adults can drive cars, earn money, buy property, make choices about their religious beliefs, get married, have children... escape abusive situations.  The list is endless.  Being an adult is actually pretty great, even if you don't enjoy getting mammograms or prostate checks.  For the record, I have yet to submit to either medical exam... and as an adult, it's my right to make that decision, especially since I don't have a prostate gland.

We do live in a society where people tend to get pissy if you seem to think too highly of yourself.  Hell, people in our local community give me shit about the title of this blog all the time.  They think I'm an asshole because I refer to myself as "overeducated" (which I literally am for what I do everyday).  But hey, while I might not have set the world on fire in the corporate arena or had a big, impressive family full of adorable tykes, I did manage to finish three college degrees.  Next year, I plan to have the student loans paid off.  This year, I paid off my credit cards and invested money in mutual funds.  Those are adult accomplishments and I am proud of achieving them, even though I have had a lot of help from Bill.  Hey-- we are working as a team and enjoying adulthood together!

There is nothing wrong with being an adult.  In my opinion, mocking your adult status by referring to "adulting" is just plain silly.  It's especially silly if you're a woman.  It's bad enough that so many women feel like they have to diminish themselves in order to be liked or appreciated or simply not thought of as a bitch.  Now we have to jokingly refer to "adulting" when we do something that mature people are supposed to do?  Bullshit.    


  1. The Irish use the term "littles," so I'm somewhat accustomed to it, though I don't necessarily like it. My mom never used it.

    in terms of "adulting," what are today's adults doing by way of assuming adult resposibilities that has not been done by the generations that preceded them? Do they think they deserve medals for paying mortgages or for qualifying for car loans?

    In high school, I attended school with a sixteen-year-old from a dismal situaion who was a bright kid. He managed to get an attorney to take his case pro bono and to gain emancipation from his derelict parents who only wanted him for hs AFDC benefits. He worked while attending school, rented a room, and got by without AFDC benefts.(I believe some of our pareents anonymously contributed financially from time to time, but for the most part, he took charge of his own life.) After high school, he took on a full-time job while attending community colege. He now has a B.S. in engineering. If he, at the age of sixteen or seventeen, had wanted to describe his lifestyle as "adulting," I would have supported his use of the term. For the rest of us, though, we're adults. We don't need a manufactured word to call attention to the things we're supposed to be doing at our ages, anyway.

    1. Yeah... I really think the term comes from young people who have been overly coddled and are impressed when they start doing stuff for themselves.

      Your example of the teen who got emancipated seems like a more likely use of the non-term "adulting". However, I have doubts that a guy like that would ever deign to use that term. Sounds like he had his head on straight.

    2. I certainly never heard him use the word.


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