- One of my coworkers shared this joke with me (from Powell’s City of Books online newsletter, back in 2002): “This brief interlude is dedicated to the millions of unheralded, hardworking blank spaces who tirelessly and with pride perform the thankless task of unbeing in order that words should remain properly held apart.”
- This is a good article about “adulting.” One can now take “adulting” classes on basic stuff like baking a cake, changing a lightbulb, and so on. To be honest, that’s all kind of silly. We really need classes on the major things, like buying a house, handling insurance, and managing finances. The super-basic stuff should be learned by watching or doing. I’ll admit, as a Millennial, all the basic “adult” stuff was intimidating to me at first, but the only way to do it is… to do it. It also helps if you’re forced to do it and you have no other choice and no one to do it for you.
- According to some, it’s time for “they.” I’ve talked about the use of the singular “they” here before, and I do use it in speech, but in writing, I still default to the clunky “he or she” or the old-fashioned “he” when referring to a human being of unknown gender. It’s way too premature and presumptuous to tell others what to call others or themselves. I know I’m not “woke” and that’s OK. My opinion is that we should refer to everyone as “y’all.” Using “y’all” in the third person might be even more awkward than using singular “they.” But it’s my choice, right?
A somewhat new buzzword you’re probably hearing about all the time is adulting, which, according to Urban Dictionary (always the most reliable resource, I say with much sarcasm), means to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.
In effect, adult is now a verb, and it’s apparently used by those who don’t adult all that well. Back when I turned 18, I was shocked upon realizing that I was legally an adult, and it took over 10 years for me to truly feel as though I was an adult, which made sense because when I was 18, I had completed none of the typical markers of adulthood. Those have historically been (I don’t know if they are in order or if they ought to be in order): (1) finishing school (I assume that means college in today’s society), (2) leaving one’s parents’ home, (3) getting married, (4) having children, and (5) becoming financially independent.
By those markers, I’m not sure that very many people aged 18 to 30 are fully fledged adults at all. Based on those markers, I’m still not a “full” adult, despite being legally an adult for more than 10 years. And by that logic, people who never have children for whatever reason never become true adults, which is silly.
I suppose the people who popularized the word adulting have not completed all five of the traditional markers of adulthood, and perhaps they feel bad about that. So menial tasks like taking out the trash when it’s overflowing and getting an oil change for the car become a Super Big Deal and an Important Aspect of Adulthood (i.e., *Gasp* I Feel Like My Mom! What a Horror!).
Are people in my generation really that lazy and really have such low self-esteem that small tasks like that become huge milestones? Or perhaps because those five milestones are extremely difficult to accomplish in today’s economy? I tend to agree with the latter. Many millennials came of age during the Great Recession and are still finding it difficult to rebound from that. Finishing school is tough when you can’t pay for it because college is outrageously expensive. Becoming financially independent is tough when you have student loans and you don’t have a decent job because you haven’t finished school because college is outrageously expensive. Leaving your parents’ house is tough because you don’t have the money to afford an apartment or a house of your own, again because you don’t have a decent job. Finding a significant other and getting married are tough because it’s hard as hell to find someone decent these days, especially when much of modern dating consists of crapshoots like Tinder. Having kids is tough because, well, if you have kids (and if you don’t), you know why.
So those five are pretty huge milestones, and adulting seems to be a term that we (i.e., millennials) use to prove to others that we are taking steps (however small) toward those milestones and not just sitting around being lazy like everyone claims that we are. Maybe it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but even if we’re not “true” adults, we have a sense of humor at least.