The word “adulting” has become increasingly popular lately with millennials. It means, in the broadest sense, dealing with the daily responsibilities of being an adult. This usually includes paying the bills on time and holding down a steady job.
One of the typical responses is to scoff or sneer at the word. It seems like such a childish versification of the noun “adult” to some.
Older generations might dismiss it as yet another meaningless meme term. It also appears to imply that its users don’t see themselves as adults, or are reluctant to accept that fact and treat it like a game of pretend. Many have used it as an easy excuse to slam millennials for their perceived immaturity.
But really, who has ever had an easy, painless transition into adulthood?
It’s completely natural to feel overwhelmed or in over your head during this time. “Adulting” resonates with this generation because it captures the feeling of stumbling your way through the initial stages of being a full-fledged grownup. And yes, at times this does in fact feel like you are forced to wear an adult costume and go through a routine.
Millennials have all the reason to feel this way given the problems they are faced with.
A Fragile Future
Given that we are towards the end of an election year, the stakes couldn’t feel any higher right now. The future path of the country seems dependent on the choice that voters will soon have to make.
There are many things that could go wrong in the coming years. Currently we are dealing with major issues regarding our economy, the environment, civil rights, privacy, and international conflicts. The culminated weight of these concerns is a heavy burden upon many young adult’s minds.
Economic problems in particular have been causing the most anxiety. According to a recent study by Bank of America and USA Today, 65% of surveyed millennials reported that the economy was the most important issue to them.
This includes the struggling job market, rising health care premiums, and the mountain of student debt that their lives have been buried under.
Millennials know better than most how quickly situations can teeter on the brink. After all, this is the generation that grew up during a major recession. They are no strangers to the levelheaded, pragmatic approach needed to get through rough times.
However, they can’t handle it all without some help.
The Struggle for Independence
Financial independence seems to be the central benchmark by which millennials judge their standards of adulthood.
Less than half of millennials can claim total independence. A majority still rely on their parents to cover part of their expenses. Only 47% of those surveyed paid their own rent, while even fewer were able to cover their own health insurance (41%).
In an interesting trend, it seems that millennial women tend to be more independent than men. More of them reported to save money (61%) than their male counterparts (55%).
Yet, taxes seemed to be an issue that both genders struggled with. Only 36% of millennial women and 28% of millennial men filed their own taxes.
Perhaps these statistics shed a light on why so many are filled uncertainty about their proficiency in “adulting.” It is difficult to feel in charge of your life when you have to turn to your parents to afford your living costs. In many ways, it is akin to still asking them for an allowance.
A Lack of Preparation
A common sentiment amongst millennials is that not enough time or effort was spent easing them into adulthood. Going from being a student to suddenly living on your own is such a jarring shift to experience.
Only 31% of surveyed millennials felt that their high school education gave them adequate training for being an adult.
College barely faired any better at 41%. Among the main subjects millennials wished they learned more about during their schooling years included investing, managing bills, and taxes.
When millennials use “adulting,” it’s not usually meant to be taken in a flippant or fastidious way. They are completely sincere and even a little self-deprecating. Most just want encouragement and advice to make sure that they are on the right track.
It’s easy to mock a young person who describes their mundane activities as “adulting.” It accomplishes little in the end, though.
One of the things that millennials are doing through the use of “adulting” is changing attitudes about the process of adulthood.
No longer does it have to be something that you have to suffer through alone. Instead, it can be something relatable that everybody can discuss and share their experiences.
Millennials value the interconnectivity that our language allows, especially in an era where our technology enables for us to come together in greater numbers.
As silly as it may sound, “adulting” represents an openness and honesty that demonstrates we don’t have to suffer our stresses alone.