I pay bills. I relate to my coworkers by commiserating about the weather. I bemoan meal prep and pay rent and have a “commute.” So why don’t I think of myself as a real adult?
I can vote in elections. I can (sometimes) not get ID’d at a bar (Okay, I ALWAYS get ID’d). I have a job. I spend my own money on garbage bags and toilet cleaning supplies. So why do I feel more like a freshman in this world than a grown-up?
“It’s because you’re a millennial! You don’t know how to do anything for yourself!” – The Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers will yell.
Millennials are constantly jostled back and forth in the media between arguments that we’re “overly-confident and entitled” and claims that we have no “soft skills.” We are depicted as social media gurus adept at making ourselves look cooler than we are, when in reality we have achieved nothing of value. But is that true? Are we really as incompetent as articles about our generation suggest? And is it fair to berate a younger generation for its lack of experience?
I don’t have an answer yet. I think the competencies my friends and I possess are different than the competencies we’ve grown up perceiving as true adulthood – making us feel like we don’t measure up.
But what is ‘true adulthood’ supposed to look like anyway? Personally, I imagine someone with authority – older than me, rarely unsure about how to handle scenarios like using an ironing board or signing a lease. Someone with furniture that matches and a refrigerator with an ice machine. Someone who is an expert at their job. I envision a person that exudes stability and world know-how. This sounds like a sit-com character.
But seriously, how do anxiety-ridden 20-somethings like me contrast with the ideal adult above? For one thing, I don’t know how to use an ironing board. I hang clothes in the steamy bathroom during a shower and hope for the best. I also still shop at Forever 21 which probably heavily weights me in the non-adult camp. I don’t have furniture that matches. I have whatever furniture was cheap or free. I had to Google “things to know when signing a lease” because I felt naive (and DC real estate hunting is scary). I lack expertise and know-how on many world topics. Am I a fake adult?
I typically end my posts with recommendations and answers for others, but this time I’m asking you – what is a Real Adult? Why don’t I feel like one? Will I ever?
Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below or here – Follow-up post with your answers to come!