“Adulting”: the millennial term for the scariest monster of them all. Unlike the boogeyman you thought was hiding under your bed when you were a kid, adulthood is real--very real--and the reason it’s so scary is because deep down we know we can’t escape from it, and eventually we will have to face it. The thing is that, when we’re younger, we believe that by a certain age –let’s say between 18 and 21– our lives will magically change, and in the blink of an eye we'll become mature, independent, and brave enough to face the challenges of being an adult: we'll be responsible and serious, earn enough money to pay our rent, travel the world, have a pet, and live our best life. You might have even thought that by this time of your life you would be married and have a baby. Just thinking about all this is a bit overwhelming... But the truth is, to this day I haven’t met anyone in their twenties or even thirties who has achieved all this (and if you have, you're my hero), and that’s because becoming an adult is not something you can accomplish just by getting older or buying things: you need experience and the willingness to take on new responsibilities.
You don’t have to stop watching your favorite cartoons or using your superhero t-shirt as PJs in order to start adulting. It’s about taking on a lot of responsibilities that also come with their share of freedoms. These responsibilities might not be the most exciting things in the world, but once you start doing them, it’ll be like turning on the lights and realizing that the boogeyman was just a bunch of dirty clothes on the floor.
1. Save money
Saving money doesn’t mean living on a budget all the time or only eating instant ramen for four years to pay for a house. It’s knowing how to spend your money. From your monthly income, you can save a small percentage for something you want in the future –maybe to travel or go to a festival next year–, save another amount for the things you need (food, rent, and other things you need to pay every month), and you’ll have the rest for whatever you want. The golden rule is not spending more than your monthly income, not even if you have a credit card.
2. Schedule your appointments
One of the things that scare us millennials the most is making a phone call. Of course it can be awkward, but it's the best and easiest way to schedule an appointment with the doctor or a hairstylist, or to make a reservation at a restaurant. Once you overcome your dread of taking the phone and dialing the number, you’ll see it’s not as scary as it seems. I mean, the person on the other side of the line can't do anything to you.
3. Learn how to cook
You're probably not the best cook the world has ever seen, and that’s okay. What I'm saying is that you should learn to cook at least a few easy dishes, so you can at least eat something when you can’t go out to eat. Cooking your own food is far more nutritious and healthy than eating out. And, who knows? Maybe with a little practice you can master a special dish.
4. Do the laundry
I know that doing the laundry isn’t fun, but neither is being in a hurry and realizing none of your shirts are clean because you didn’t take an hour of your day to put your clothes in the washing machine. What's stopping you? You don’t even to have do the dirty job (pun totally intended).
5. Know when to stop drinking
Being an adult doesn’t mean you can't drink, but rather having enough self-control to know when it’s time to stop, especially if you have to drive home or get up early the next day. Besides, you don’t have to get completely wasted to have fun at a party. If you’re already feeling a little tipsy, just stop drinking and get something else that doesn't have alcohol.
6. Sleep well
Maybe when you were a teenager you could pull an all-nighter and feel fine the next day, but the older you get, the more difficult that's going to get. Give yourself enough time to sleep, recharge your energies and wake up refreshed. Maybe you have to go to bed earlier, and at the beginning it’ll be hard, but your body is wise. It’ll get used to it eventually and thank you for it.
7. Eat well
Eating healthy doesn’t mean being on strict diets and only eating gluten-free, low-calorie, tasteless food. The key to a good diet is eating many different things to get all the nutrients your body needs. It’s all about being creative and eating balanced meals. If you get used to eating healthy, you’ll be able to eat that yummy yet greasy burger without feeling guilty or affecting your general health.
8. Keep your personal space clean
Again, it’s not leaving every surface so shiny that you can see your reflection on it or cleaning everything with chlorine every day. It’s leaving everything in its place after using it and doing some housework every week. Maybe you don’t care about your mess and you’re comfortable with it, but it becomes annoying when you start losing things or someone comes to visit.
9. Let go
This is a more personal aspect of adulting. Part of maturing is learning to let go of past grudges and move on from certain issues. It can be anything from a bad breakup to a broken heart, an unhealthy friendship, or a personal project you haven’t finished. Those events we don’t let go of become burdens that get heavier and heavier as time goes by. Think of it as holding a glass of water: the first few minutes, you won’t mind because it isn’t heavy at all, but a little later, that tiny glass will become heavier and heavier, and it’ll be even worse if someone gives you another glass to hold.
10. Learn to be your best companion
Society has taught us to avoid solitude by equating it to loneliness, which is always a negative feeling associated with isolation. We’re always online, so anyone can contact us whenever they want. However, there’ll be moments when we’ll have to be alone and solve our problems on our own. Truly growing up means accepting solitude as an essential part of life. Just think about it. Isn’t it satisfying to know you that solved a problem all by yourself? That’s when you truly shine. Besides, if you don’t learn how to be alone with yourself, it won't matter how many people you surround yourself with: that discomfort won’t go away.
Here are more things you can do to improve this process of adulting:
Photos by Brandon Woelfel