Adulting…Its not in the dictionary!

Adulting – I have read about how much more people are using it these days, particularly millennials, and bloggers commenting on when is it appropriate to use and when is it not. Like how when one turns up on time for work or when they make themselves a healthy regular dinner, it is often frowned upon by those that don’t think this isn’t adulting. But landing their dream job is considered adulting by those. The question that I want to evaluate is why has this word found its existence now, in our generation, and not in our parents?

As its not a word found in the official Oxford dictionary, the definition of adulting seems borrowed. But the two keywords in all the different definitions that find themselves repeating, is 1) responsibility 2) growing up. So here I am thinking, does our generation not know responsibility and growing up the way our previous generations did?

When I think about our parents and the generations gone, I somehow imagine a conveyor belt! One studies, gets a job, gets married, has kids, gets a home, makes money for retirement, dies old and hopefully wise. And one must jump on the next conveyor belt as soon as they hit the given age or they miss the boat! Obviously, socially and hence internally the pressures seem to be the same in most people even today. Is that adulting though? Is that all? Being sober qualifies to being an adult? So basically mimicking what I think real adults do, so I can trick people to think I am an adult – is adulting? But the ‘real’ adults in that definition are often so unbearably boring or more often we have no idea how messed up they really are!

Many in our generation, in the youthful aspirations, want to change the world, want to do things differently, want to defy norms, want to make lots of money, fame, name, glamour very quickly and get to that space that they can simply party their life out. However, on the contrary, our education doesn’t teach us that version of adulting, doesn’t teach us how to be responsible with that, or growing up…which neither did our parents learn but they didn’t have any other option! But ignorance is also not an option for us because with the internet at our finger tips, we don’t have any excuses! Our parents were sure taught how to work hard at their standard routine life.

Sadly we are not even taught ‘how’ to work hard. With the new money age in a generation above ours, people have done the making new money and working hard. Now here we are thinking its easy to make money, but we have forgotten that to change the world we have to work towards it consistently. We can dare to start working one night before an assignment is due, because have all the possible online resources available right away. We read about Steve Jobs saying ‘lets put a dent in the universe’ and feel all pumped up, but we turn the page of our life the next morning and we are tired even before starting to work hard. We think hard, google all night and set our eyes on something trying to call it passion, based on how it is exciting me, whether I can almost see myself doing that if my life were a movie – painting, authoring, photographing, investment banking, dancing, acting, singing, startup, travelling the world. But I am constantly looking over my shoulder (which doesn’t have to be wrong) but I get distracted by anything that seems like it can be a chapter in the movie of my life. I can identify myself to be the lead who is not yet ‘that’ successful entrepreneur that great movies are made on, and can also see myself in the last seen where things are all glamorous and grand, but I forget the rest of the work was all on fast-forward! Is that all part of ‘adulting’? Is that why our parents didn’t know the term, because they rarely dreamt of  instant success stories? And is it wrong?

Then there are those believe in winning the small battles of change and responsibility and calling that adulting. ‘I am growing up, I am adulting..but slowly.’ When I live independently, when I suddenly find myself cooking, cleaning, paying the bills and regular chores – when all that doesn’t feel like something I wish I didn’t have to do..that is when I feel like I am growing up. But overtime, I sure wish that I didn’t have to, because growing up sucks! I wish I could just ask daddy for that new dress I want to buy, or the other toy I could whine about in the store until I get it! Is that adulting? Is that why our parents didn’t have this term, because they kind of learnt these skills by default before officially being left to swim on their own?

Hindu scriptures talk about 4 ashrams. Brahmacharya (Life of moderation and discipline while studying, learning, predominantly soaking in scriptural knowledge-the manuals of life), Grahastha (using all the knowledge gained to predominantly sharing, giving back to & supporting society), Vanaprastha (predominantly focusing on attaching to higher spiritual pursuits and detaching from worldly attachments), Sanyaas (having practiced internal renunciation throughout, renunciating externally and focusing entirely on permanently being happy). The order, the age is really not strict but it is all to increase our chances of increasing our pursuits towards permanent happiness in each stage. Now when I read about what each of it is more in detail, I am inclined to define adulting as a transition between brahmacharya and grahastha, and by that default the scriptures become the manual of adulting.

The problem is clear then. Because what do WE do in our brahmacharya? We don’t learn to think right, to make intelligent choices, to understand manuals of life to know how to operate the equipments. Our entire life is about trial and error. They say that in life you give the exam first and then learn the lesson. But they also say that the foolish make mistakes and don’t learn, the intelligent make mistakes and learn, and the wise watch other people make mistakes and learn. What did our parents do in their brahmacharya? Well no, they didn’t learn to think right either necessarily, but they didn’t have the access to opportunities and choices to learn as much as we do, and they simply followed the pattern because..well because thats how it had to be done I suppose.

So when it comes to adulting, whether its the small battles we are winning, or its the big ones, whether we know how to work hard or not, if we really want adulting to not be a drawn out process of trial and error, high and low days of why things working my way one day and one day not, we just have to focus on learning right thinking. Sincerely studying, learning the manuals of adulthood, before or atleast during our adulting, is a great place to start.

Happy adulting peeps!


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