Us 20- and 30-somethings spend a lot of time lamenting the struggles of being grown ups. The still new-ish word “adulting” (or, more often, #adulting) has even allowed us to put a name to those challenges, and it’s launched an entire subcategory of social media geared toward the millennial set as we continue to make the tricky transition into life as full-blown adults. Totally intimidated by the process of doing your own taxes? Tweet about it. Meal prepping on a Saturday night instead of going out with friends? Snap a pic and post it to Instagram. So exhausted after a week of work that you couldn’t possibly bring yourself to clean the apartment? The Facebook community will definitely want to hear all about it. As long as it’s tagged with #adulting, the universe will know that it’s all in good fun, and that you’re not really a mopey 25-year-old who wishes Mommy and Daddy were still around to help. Right?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’m as guilty of this kind of social media behavior as any other millennial (and I just so happen to cover the “adulting” category for this very website), but when I take a step back and really think about it, I’m just not so sure that these posts are such a good look for us. For literally decades, people have come of age and taken on adult responsibilities without feeling the need to share it with an entire social network (a social network that, may I remind you, didn’t even exist for many of them!). When my grandmother fought like hell to get the education she so wanted and finally made it happen, she didn’t have Twitter to turn to for validation of her drive and independence, AKA #adulting. When my dad made his first car payment, he didn’t take a screenshot of the receipt and add it to his Snap story. Our older family members became fully self-sufficient without an internet from which to seek commiseration or congratulations. So why can’t we do the same?
This trend toward grumpy #adulting makes me especially sad when I think about how excited 11-year-old Alli was to simply be a grown up. She couldn’t wait to overcome middle school and puberty and awkward first kisses and seemingly pointless homework (in my case, the awkward first kisses came well after the vast majority of the homework). She would be so disappointed to discover that adult Alli would one day find adult life to be such a chore. My younger counterpart might be really proud of the number of dogs that would one day follow her grown-up self on Instagram, but she’d probably want to throw out social media altogether if she saw the way I would one day use it to drop #adulting as a dirty word.
My call to action here is that we think about our butt-kicking predecessors and our wide-eyed, can’t-wait-to-grow-up, younger selves the next time we think about taking to social media to complain about the frustrations of adulthood. Being a grown up really isn’t so bad! Consider the fact that, as grown ups, we have license to order anything we want for dinner, or to hang out with friends without permission, or to decide for ourselves whether we’re sick enough to leave early for the day. We get to build our own relationships, watch TV late at night, and choose our own breakfast cereal — even if it is the sugary kind. And while “real life” is full of barriers and budgets and plenty of rejection, “adulting” really means that we get to call our own shots, so if we choose to feel sorry for ourselves, then we should look no further than into a mirror when we want to place the blame.
Being a grown up is hard, and I would never claim that it’s all Chinese takeout and middle-of-the-night Hulu marathons. As I write this, I’m nervously waiting for a call back from the company that manages my 401(k), and there’s a stack of groceries sitting on my kitchen counter that I probably should have put away 45 minutes ago. These circumstances, though, are just a basic reality of being an independent human being. They’re not somehow unique to us because we happen to be #adulting in the 2017 world of Twitter and Instagram live.
I don’t know what young adulthood is going to look like for our children and grandchildren, but I do know that they’ll have access to the full scope of our social media output — and I, for one, don’t want them to judge me for whining about how hard it is to get my car inspected or to order new contacts. I would totally judge me for that, so clearly, something has to change.
Come on, fellow grown ups! Let’s team up to take the sting of adulthood. That’s right — adulthood, not #adulting. It’s not all bad. And even when it is, we get to eat ice cream for lunch. Just try and tell me that’s not a perk.
What do you think about #adulting? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)