When my parents were 39, I was 13 years old. They were employed, homeowners, and my dad owned his barbershop. I always thought when I was 40 I would be on the board of directors of a major corporation, traveling the world first class, and perhaps having a family.
Fastforward 26 years and I work for a major corporation and I’m 6 levels away from the board, travel the world weekly (occasionally in business and first class cabins) but I am so far from the adults I observed as a teen.
Adulting is a new verb thrown around by the generation that came after mine, the infamous Millennials. According to urbandictionary.com Adulting is:
“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.”
The first thing I noted when I read this definition was “Didn’t Mrs. Brown teach me in elementary school that you can’t use a word or derivative of in the definition?” Totally unrelated to this post but, still. The next thing I thought was how many friends and family are displaying the adult attributes I thought defined my parents and their generation? Some of these attributes are being married or in a stable, long term relationship, being fiscally responsible, owning a home, and having careers. Sadly, many in my various circles are not adulting, including myself. Or is this sadly?
I have never lived alone nor do I own my home (or pay a mortgage to a bank in hopes of owning that home). I don’t have a husband or a partner, no children, right now I don’t even own a car. Hell, I don’t even iron and don’t know how to use my own washing machine (that doubles as a dryer).
To quote my all time crush Kanye (pre-Kim) “I got a problem with spending before I get it.” But, I am not embarrassed by these things. A few years ago I might have been.
What I have done is amassed a lifetime of experiences, some that many I know could only dream of. That tour of the Taj Mahal, the jaunt to Hong Kong for the weekend, the endless parade of Carnivals. Memories that when I recount them, I realise I am fucking blessed! The hairs on my arms raise and eyes light up. I wish I had access to a time machine.
But in a judgemental society, we are taught that Baby Boomer goals are still those things we should strive for.
I won’t sugar coat my lack of adulting – I am often admonished by my team of doctors about my poor dietary habits (anyone for crisps and a doughnut for breakfast?), I rarely exercise, my savings account hasn’t seen a deposit for a few years. Saving money and taking care of your body are two key pillars of a successful life irrespective of age. I do think that society gets a high off judging others based on their ability to adult. Often times, this judgement is done without consideration of a number of elements:
1. Culture – in some cultures, offspring don’t leave the home until they are married. Sometimes the spouse moves into the family home allowing multiple generations to enjoy (or not) each other’s company. Grandchildren can take care of an elderly granny. Parents can babysit for their children.
2. Financial – in families who decide cohabitation works for them, often times see financial benefit for all of the adults. Saving money because one home is paid for rather than two. That money can be invested in family experiences or to start generational wealth. I am not saying this what is happening but I have witnessed many families take awesome holidays utilising funds that would have been spent elsewhere.
3. Health – for reasons unbeknownst to us, some visible and invisible illnesses impair a person’s ability to balance their check books, get out of bed, etc.
I followed someone on social media who posted something similar to below:
While fronting for the ‘gram (Instagram for the older, more sophisticated audience) about the virtues of saving vs. spending. In real life she was being chased by creditors and abandoning her responsibilities. The duplicity of this is the opposite of adulting. Wouldn’t you agree? The pressures of adulating force people to wear these masks.
I can’t help but wonder what our parents think. I am pretty much in a twenty year extended adolescence and so are a lot of people I know. Has the goal post moved out by a few years? When I see people having babies in their 20’s now, I too easily put on a judgemental cap questioning how they are going to manage at such a young age but with the same token are new mums in their 40’s (which I will be) doing a disservice to their children starting parental life so late? My parents being 26 when they had me allowed me a lot of time with them, to observe and learn from their mistakes. But at 26 they seemed to have their shit together. My child will have lost at least 14 years. But that 14 years additional experience can perhaps enable me to teach them how to appreciate the nutritional value of broccoli, that debts need to be settled before spending excessively, how to navigate the airport in record time (because baby Reds will be rambling right along side me!).
This blog in no way an attempt to prescribe a suitable way of living for anyone. Its just a convoluted brain dump of mine about the changing landscape of the adult world.
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