Until a few days ago I was unaware there was such a word, “adulting.” Just pronouncing the word out loud informs it is loaded with connotations. It sounds like a “heavy” word, at least to me. It has something to do with getting off one’s ass and washing the sink full of dishes – and other things. Apparently for many Millennials, and now the next generation coming “on line,” becoming an adult is harder than it was for Boomers like myself – or is it?
The question then arises, why are “M’s” having a harder time with becoming adults and conducting their affairs responsibly? I admit not having looked for any research on such a question, or hypothesis, but I suspect it is a combination, a milieu, of rather oppressive conditions the M’s face. Or, perhaps, their perception of daunting conditions? Let’s name a few of these conditions: one might be the “digital environment” that has largely shaped their lifestyles, to wit, distractions of “fun” activities that become addictive, such as video games, especially the on-line games. I have one god-daughter who would argue with me on that, and I suppose a counter argument to mine could be strongly advocated, but from my viewpoint, these people have spent too much time with gadgets and not enough face time out in the world, experiencing real life rather than digital life.
Another condition is, the economy and their education. The demands of the new digital age and worldwide economy, and the huge and increasing cost of higher education, and hell, just getting accepted into a college or university today, create a mine field for young adults. Finding jobs and being able to pay off student debt has forced a high percentage of these “adulting” folks to live at home with parents already struggling with their own financial and or health issues. Living at home with parents when you are supposed to be “an adult” cannot be easy – and many parents likely cut their kids a lot of slack too, not really helping their offspring grow up. It is said the human brain is not “adult” until around 25-27 (that’s why we send our kids off to war…..any adult mind would reconsider enlisting), so that too is an innate challenge that all generations have. I have some first hand experience with that, having had one god-son and his girlfriend live with us for a while.
For these M’s who chose not to go to college – and avoided large debts (I choose to exclude the M’s who come from financially strong families, as those are a rather small percentage) – there is the struggle of finding and holding down a decent wage paying job that they can live on. Well, those jobs are few, and most of these young folk also must live with parents, or do what they call “couch surfing” from friend to friend or relative. However, one cannot couch surf one’s entire adult life, so what happens to these guys? Fortunately many of these guys are smart, inventive types, who are trying to establish their own business or source of income, through their own creativity. Let’s recall most of our most successful tech corps were established similarly, so that gives some assurance.
The endless wars in the Middle East also impact the M generation, although the effects seem to have gotten lost in many of our minds. It’s a rather small group of M’s, usually those from poorer or rural areas having no future for kids as they came out of high school, who joined the ranks of our military and did what they were called on to do by Washington “fat cats.” Today it would be hard to find someone in “middle class” American who knows one military person, or even knows someone who knows. Our fighting M’s are nearly invisible today sadly, but the cost they have paid and continue to pay is incalculably high. And how are they rewarded? By being sent to the Mexican border to build fences and by having funds intended to improve their housing taken away to build such fences and walls. Got to love America the Beautiful!
In contrast, we Baby Boomers came of age during the Race to the Moon, the Beatles and Woodstock, and of course “our” war, Viet Nam. I find it difficult to say which generation faced more confusing and challenging environments to accomplish their “adulting” days in. However, I do absolutely empathize with the M’s. Although I just learned what “adulting” is, I can “feel you guys.” Yes, becoming an adult is hard. In tribal societies their was and still is, initiation rites for the passage to “adulthood.” Girls and boys are instructed in the ways of being an adult within their tribal group. Unfortunately in contemporary Western society do not have such rituals identified, we just have sports. Ha-ha. If a young person goes into the military, there is additional “initiation,” better called indoctrination, and perhaps this helps one to become an adult quicker than the rest, but then one may have to deal with PTSD on top of “adulting.”
So I have learned about the word, and I I myself went through “it.” All human beings do, and I am sure around the world “adulting” is as serious a matter as it is to young Americans. It is not a disease, nor affliction, it is Life. So sometimes as a soldier might say, “just suck it up!” The quicker you take charge of being your own adult, the better you will feel, and look back on those days “fondly.”
I wonder what new word I will learn this week?