I remember my moment of realization. When I finally realized that I was actually an adult! It was the strangest feeling. After considering myself a child for so long, I was suddenly considered an adult. Legally, I could make my own decisions. Socially, I would be more respected. However, realistically, I was still that young girl who just had the label of an “adult”.
That was when the term “adulting” became real for me. For those of you who don’t know what adulting means, here is the definition from the Cambridge dictionary, “actions and behavior that are considered typical of adults, not children or young people”. When people do their own laundry for the first time or when they pay their own bills for the first time, it is considered as “adulting”.
However, here’s the thing. First of all, I don’t do many of the things that adults do. I obviously don’t have the responsibility of having my own house or family or children or even a job. So, oftentimes, I still feel like a child playing dress-up. Second of all, being an “adult” is hard! For the first time, people expect me to have everything all together. And, I’ll be honest. I don’t.
As a toddler, I loved the idea of growing up. And yet, I’m barely an adult and I already hate it. There are so many decisions that I have made by now that I regret and I know that it is a growing list. However, there is a beauty in it too. In seeing more fairytale endings however rare they are.
So, the second I became an adult, I felt freed and chained. I felt like I could do anything I wanted but that would also mean that I would be responsible for anything that I did. That made me ask a lot of questions and find some of the answers. So, here’s my newborn adult’s guide to adulting successfully:
Step 1: Accept responsibility like an adult
To be responsible for something is super scary. Cause we all know that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Too often people don’t take this responsibility seriously. However, just imagine the number of crises that we could have prevented if this responsibility was taken up. We could have more responsible politicians, doctors, and millionaires.
Taking up this responsibility is not about worrying! See my previous article for that. It’s about being a good “steward”. In the Bible, there is a parable about a rich man and his servants. The rich man is generous with his servants and gives them all some money before he goes on a trip. When he comes back, he asks them what they each did with the money that he gave them. One man just hid the money for safe-keeping. However, the other two men invested the money and reaped twice as much as they had to begin with. That is being a good steward, a wise caretaker.
So, when a family member or a close friend confronts you about an action or conversation, you can choose to be responsible and acknowledge the situation while finding ways to improve. When you find a goal that is worthy to pursue, you can choose to be responsible by finding and taking the steps necessary to achieve that goal. When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be responsible for every second of your day from the hours you spend on your cellphone to the minutes you spend talking with your community.
As adults, we all become active members of our society. We must take up the responsibility that comes with that power when it comes to voting, volunteering, and even our vocations. Believe-it-or-not, we have become the “grown-ups” that kids look up to and must live up to our name, no matter how little we deserve it.
Step 2: Grow like a kid
Grown-up. To me, that feels like a strange term. Isn’t growing a process? So, how is there a label that may seem to place all of that growth onto one person? In our society, the reason that so many people don’t “grow up” is, in fact, because of that term. Because people expect an 18-year-old to have achieved the great milestone of “growth” when it is not a milestone at all, to begin with. So, we must continue to grow.
Even as adults, we must become like children. Have you ever noticed how children are always growing? I have two younger siblings who show me this every day. It almost seems like they are a new and more “grown” person every single day that I see them. Why? Because everyone knows that children have a lot of things to learn. That’s why we send kids to school and teach them new skills. The fact of the matter is that we have a lot to learn too. And, that is actually the way that we are supposed to be.
So, continue pushing yourself and looking for opportunities to learn in every situation that you are placed in. Just remember to never stop growing.
Step 3: Give Grace like God
Lastly, learn to give grace. Grace has always been a special concept for me. Mostly because I seem like an expert at receiving it from others and a failure at giving it to others and to myself. We always expect to receive grace but never want to give it.
However, God has given us an unimaginable amount of grace. Just think. Every single breath you are breathing is not earned. You did nothing to deserve it. In fact, you probably made a lot of mistakes that made breathing even more difficult. However, God still gives us grace. So, we must too.
First of all, we must give grace to ourselves. The amount of responsibility we carry would be too burdensome if we did not have grace. Continually, growing requires grace. Growing is a challenging process that always seems to be wrought with failure. So, if we do not give grace to ourselves, we will not be able to continue to grow successfully.
Secondly, we must give grace to others. As an adult, we can easily expect perfection from those around us. However, the person who is in front of you is as broken as you are. Since there is a God who gives us grace, though, we should continue to give grace to these people as well. The person who cuts us off in the freeway. The person who claims responsibility for our work. The person who falls prey to the corruption around us.
If we do give grace, we can accept responsibility and grow. Consequently, we will be on the journey of making our societies more beautiful with fewer honks, fewer shouts, and fewer disappointments. We can then have a community of truly thriving adults.
So, adulting, here I come. Bring it on!