And as young people start to come of age, they often wonder “how to adult” after quickly going from asking to go to the bathroom in high school to being thrust into the “real world” in a short period of just a few years.
I’ve read many columns and op-eds talking about the things an adult should have, and it usually touches on money in their savings and how to manage finances. They often read as out-of-touch, borderline classist finger-wagging toward young people who are poor.
To me, the most important parts of “adulting” have to do with a change in outlook and attitude.
Here are attitude adjustments I think should come with “adulting.”
Assess your philosophical values and outlook; clearly define them
An adult needs to have guiding principles in life that dictate their ethics and how they treat other people. Ideology – whether it’s religious, political or anything else – sits at the core of how an adult believes people should interact with one another. Not caring about politics, for instance, is probably a sign that you have some more maturing to do. The apolitical individual sees ideology as an abstract concept that exists in a vacuum rather than principles on how others should be treated, how society should work and how people should conduct themselves. Now that you’re an adult, nobody is interested in hearing edgy nihilism.
Learn to admit mistakes and say sorry
This is something a lot of people don’t want to do, even after years of “adulting.” But it’s an important part of growing up. Understand that you also make mistakes, and sometimes, you’re the bad person in someone else’s version of a story. You don’t get to decide how someone else feels when you hurt them, and you’re not always the reasonable one. Not every situation calls for one to dig their heels in.
Understand you are inherently equal to others
As you get older and work to straighten out your finances and professional/work life, you may find yourself tasting success and a semblance of stability. You may very well feel the desire to stick your nose up in the air from time to time. But understand that not much really separates you from the homeless folks panhandling. For most working millennials and Gen-Zers coming of age, chances are a medical disaster or a layoff could ruin your life, so you should be able to have some empathy for others as someone whose livelihood currently hangs on a thread. Learn to see yourself in others!
Some people may have found your teenage angst to be a bit endearing at times, but no adult wants to spend too much time around a cynical misanthrope. Learn to be nicer and give people the benefit of the doubt when you can. And try not to spend too much time gossiping about others. You’re not in high school anymore, and if you spend too much time gossiping with others, many will assume you do the same to them when they’re not in the room.