Okay, so I did it.
I realized what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve given in. Against my own Free Will, I’ve taken a step back, and created a Buzzfeed-esque list of 10 ways to be a Really Great Adult.
I know what you’re thinking — we don’t need another one of these articles written for a few decades. At least.
But hey, I know how you people work (because who doesn’t like to skim an article or two in the bathroom), and I want to be most effective. And efficient. And, like any Millennial out there, I want the best bang for my buck.
This list — in no particular order of importance (i.e. do everything) — will contain some ideas that seem radical (see number 1), and some that you could do while watching Netflix. They are tried and true suggestions that I’ve had to learn the hard way — so think of this as my gift to you.
And since I know how much people hate reading, I’ve cut the list in half. The first 5 are for this week. Some of these thoughts are so deeply profound (ha), I’ll even build on them in more detail in future posts.
So, here you go my fellow idealistic, realistic contemporaries:
On Adulting: How to be your Best You
1. Stop making lists (!)
Radical, I told you.
But seriously : The Notes app is evil.
I know this is going to give 21st century writers a heart attack. Just like you, I make lists for everything — from islands where I can scoop ice cream for a living, to the best speakeasies in Manhattan.
But, you see — making lists is actually bad. It’s literally the opposite of YOLO-ing (can I make that a verb?). We need to be here; we need to be present in order to really live a life.
How many times have you been at brunch, and got distracted from a conversation because you’re thinking about how many likes your post from last night is getting? Or maybe you’re not even having a conversation, because you (+friends) are currently editing (the same) picture.
The starting point of happiness relies on Being Present. You need to be fully immersed in a moment to actually enjoy it. So, make it a rule or even a competition: no phones at dinner. Who can last the longest?
Or, you can make it even bigger than letting go of your phone. Try to stay Here, in this moment, without thinking about your laundry list of To-Do’s on your commute home.
2. Let go of pointless shit
This might be the hardest part of being an adult.
We’re not allowed to passive aggressively ask our roommates whose turn it is to take out the trash anymore. And you know what? It’s so refreshing.
I think the Adult version of this statement is: Be Mature.
Next time you’re about to flip someone off for cutting in front of you right as you’re about to swipe your Metrocard just think — is it that big of a deal? Who knows what’s going on in their life, right? It’s better for everyone to think that person is rushing to pick up their kid from school, not to a Soul Cycle class.
I’ve found two really helpful ways to think about these bumps in the road:
- Small issues (like Soul Cycle woman) — Accept and Move on.
This means: acknowledge some really annoying shit just happened, take a deep breath, and get on with your day. Some things are really going to suck (i.e. plane delays, rain on your wedding day, you know), but you have no control over them. Try to fix the things that you can.
- Big issues (like I’m having a quarter life crisis) — Accept & Move Forward.
This means: this is Hard. Hard as in you’re solving an excel formula one minute, and the next, you see the following ten years of your life flash before your eyes — working in front of the same computer screen. Since you do have control over these issues, it’s okay to cry. I’m not kidding. You need to accept whatever is challenging you (i.e. boss is crazy, boyfriend just broke up with you, apartment has cockroaches), get your emotions out (i.e. cry in the bathroom, scream, whatever), and find a solution.
As I said, this is Hard. But it’s okay — it’s a must — to acknowledge your issues, wallow in that horrible self-pity for a little, and then, Move On.
3. Time is precious — don’t waste it with people you don’t really care about
This was a weird thing to realize once I became an Adult, but there are actually people you don’t really enjoy spending time with and you do it anyway for some odd reason.
Now that work takes up the majority of your time (95% for most people I know), you need to make that other 5% count. Why would you waste it on people that don’t make you happy?
It’s kind of a painful process. This really has to do with you growing as a person, and less about Other People.
If you’re like me, you feel bad at first. You don’t want to hurt their feelings! These were people that you liked at some point, right? But that’s when you also liked Twitter and had time to do weird things like make mug cakes at 4am (hey, you still might do that).
From experience, people just start falling off your radar. You realize that you may have had something in common when you were like 19, but no longer. Whether that’s because you move to a new city, or a new part of town — change happens. And after a few months, you realize it’s really no ones fault.
This isn’t to say that you should stop reaching out to people you like, because we all know sometimes it takes work to stay in touch with friends (oh the irony). But, if you’re conscious about the fact that it’s okay to lose touch with people you were once friends with or stop doing things you once liked doing, that’s all that matters.
Moral of the story: Don’t Feel Guilty About Change.
4. Think again before you have that 5th shot of tequila
Yeah, yeah some of you never gained the Freshman 15 and still think you’re in the clear. But listen — hangovers, those sneaky little guys, penetrate through anything.
I was always pretty weird and felt invincible to hangovers. But, as I’ve gotten older (and I’m really sounding old here…), they’ve taken over my entire day.
Weekends shouldn’t be a graveyard.
Of course, it’s always easiest to spend an entire weekend absorbed by Netflix’s newest season (that damn automatic play feature). But, how does that make you feel on a Monday? Especially when you have someone in your office like Kilimanjaro Joe who happens to take weekend trips to Iceland.
Remember that little tidbit about only 5% of your time is not taken over by work, and then think about how you feel at 4PM on a Wednesday when all you really want is a free Saturday afternoon.
Be a tourist in your own city. Book a last minute weekend trip. Sit in a bar and meet some cool people. Sit in a coffee shop and read a new book.
Anything but crawling out of your apartment to find a Gatorade.
Because think about it — when (if) you have kids, or bigger Adult responsibilities, that 5% of free, fun, crazy time just keeps getting smaller.
Use it wisely.
5. Spend some time alone (like, completely. In nature if possible)
If the closest thing you have to nature is Brooklyn Boulders, that’s okay too.
The point is — you need to be alone to figure out who You truly are. This is especially important in the early years of Adulthood, but just as important when you have 4 kids, 3 dogs, and alone isn’t even a word in your vocabulary anymore.
And I admit, this is kind of a scary thing to do. When you’re with other people, whether you’re actually with them, or surrounded by strangers on the Bedford Street subway stop, you’re likely concentrating on other things. But, when you’re alone — fully alone — every part of you is there in the open.
Basically, you’re Naked.
And that’s why people tend to avoid it. It’s a scary thing to see all the shit that you don’t want other people to see. That you didn’t even know still existed (i.e. I get freaked out at night when my closet door is open??!). But, that’s exactly why you have to purge your thoughts from time to time.
I do this in a couple of different ways:
- I’m a runner (I know, I know). For me, running — especially in the morning — allows me to sift through all of my weird, confusing thoughts and confront them. Do they make sense? Why does that scare me? Why wouldn’t I do that?
- I’m a writer (clearly). From reading my journal though, you might not be able to tell: I word vomit. At least once or twice a week, I try to write out all of my thoughts, without judgment, to get through the gunk, the worries or excitement, and make some sense of it later.
You can Be Naked without actually being naked in many ways. Take a walk through nature (or along the Hudson River). Meditate. Listen to music or a podcast while laying on your bed. Just take some time to decompress, think, and learn who You really are.
Adulting is hard, but trust me — you can take it one tiny step at a time. Stay tuned for the next 5 tips on how to be a Really Great Adult if you need a little hand holding!
What are ways that you’ve used to become a Really Good Adult? I want to hear your tips!