For millennials today, ‘adulting’ has become a term unto itself.
Congratulations on either turning legal age or finishing college and university. Now its time to begin the arduous task of becoming an adult. ‘Adulting‘ includes starting a career, moving away from parents, learning how to handle paying bills, adjusting to taxes, learning to cook and developing a whole host of new skills. At times, it is a trying period. However, it is also incredibly rife with learning, growth, and opportunities.
Which would make one wonder, though: what are the things that make one an adult? What does it mean by adulting? Moreover, how does one become an adult?
Fortunately, anyone and everyone can do it. Here’s a crash course on how:
1. Become financially independent
Indian parents are notorious for keeping their children sheltered for the majority of their lives. This behaviour not only undermines their confidence once they become an adult, but it also delays their financial independence. However, financial freedom is a core part of being an adult.
Yes, not everyone can score a Google-esque package straight out of college or a fantastic salary that will cover all expenditures as well as provide additional benefits. However, that does not mean that financial independence should a delayed or foregone conclusion. Even if it is as simple as getting a part-time job at the beginning or working full-time and living with your parents, do it. Financial freedom and autonomy will boost your confidence and make you stronger in your ability to make independent decisions. There is a real sense of pride in not having to rely on your parents for providing for you and meeting your basic needs yourself.
2. Find home of your own
Finding a home of your own may not happen in your early 20’s for most people. Unless you inherit a house or have a successful business running since you were a teenager, you will most likely be saving your way up to a house here. However, every month, do keep aside a certain amount for your dream home.
If getting a job is the 1st part of a adulting, getting a house of your own is a continuation of it. Even if it is only a one-bedroom apartment, the confidence you will reap in your abilities to provide a roof for yourself, will well up inside you like a delicious storm.
You’ll learn how to budget since you’ll also be taking care of food, utilities, repairs, and society charges (if you live in one). Don’t pass the opportunity to live in a 1-bedroom house because you feel your stuff won’t fit. Take the help of a storage unit. Go minimalistic and sell unnecessary belongings. Design a space for yourself where you can start building your dream life.
Renting a storage space and utilizing this option will make you feel independent. Take away the crutch of depending on your parents to store your things or determine what holds sentimental value. Itemize what is essential and what can be stored away for when you eventually move into a bigger space. Storage spaces are secure units, with surveillance and security ensuring the safety of your belongings.
Renting or owning your apartment will also teach you how to take care of your stuff. Adults have the capacity and the awareness to handle themselves, unlike children. In short and reversing a famous phrase: get your own back.
3. Travel extensively
You do not have to become a nomad for this. However, just once, leave everything behind and hit the road. Travel to a new country or a region in India, that you may have always dreamed about and explore. Alternatively, go where you never thought you would. For example, Iran, Cuba, Tajikistan, Madagascar. Many countries are also low cost and nearby to visit and provide fantastic opportunities for site seeing and exploring.
Volunteer your skill and time in these countries if you are short of cash. Stay in dorm rooms, hostels, and Air bnbs, if luxury hotels are not an option. Take a TESOL course and visit a new country as an English medium teacher; there is a considerable demand for teachers where English isn’t the first language. Attempt to experience a world, a culture that you haven’t grown up in; it will teach you a lot. With this type of experience, you will be able to be creative and see your life through fresh eyes as well.
4. Seek committed relationships
For everyone, whether at 22 or 29 and beyond, marriage is in the cards. So, as one enters adulthood, the search for a perfect mate begins even if one does not realize it. Sometimes, it’s the family and parents who are on the hunt and other times (most of the time) it is the adult themselves.
So, change your approach to relationships and partnerships if need be. During the teenage years, one dates much more casually and with a lot more abandon. However, as one matures, the real intricacies of relationship surfaces and one achieves clarity as to the type of partner one wants and can live. Finding the ‘ideal match’ in one go is a rarity. However, seek to be your best and make the best of every relationship you enter. Grow, gain maturity, and find a partner who is doing the same.
5. Up your emotional quotient
There are going to be many reasons for you to start stressing as you enter adulthood. Work pressure, family pressure, marital pressure, health pressure, and many more. These will only feel like pressure when a) you call them that b) you haven’t learned how to deal with your emotions.
Our education systems and culture will teach us calculus and how to dress, but it does not show you an essential life skill. The skill is learning to regulate your emotions and learning to be comfortable with yourself. Hence, the responsibility of learning this falls on your shoulders only. If you want to make it through adulthood successfully, you have to work at developing your emotional quotient.
Learn how to meditate. Remember to exercise regularly or try yoga. Do not follow the easy way of using social crutches like drinking and smoking or drugs as a way to cope with everyday stresses. They aren’t solutions really and will instead, ruin things in the long term. Dealing with emotional hang-ups- either by yourself or in a group environment- will develop your emotional quotient in the long run.
You can also develop creative hobbies like dancing, journaling, painting, playing an instrument- that relieves stress and acts as an outlet for your emotions. We all need one as we grow up. It is not possible to be healthy in mind and body without regular breaks from normal routines. A creative hobby creates that break and transports you to another place where you can recharge healthily.
An essential component of a healthy EQ is self-responsibility. Learn to take ownership of where you are at and say ‘this is due to me’ without feeling guilty or beating yourself up is a skill you need to develop. When you don’t have a healthy equilibrium, you start feeling stuck and stagnant. It can lead to more significant health problems such as depression.
In conclusion, adulting doesn’t happen overnight. It is the process of becoming an independent and morally responsible individual. It is a constant process of growth and is never truly complete. You can find individuals in their 40’s, who still have a bit of adulting to learn sometimes. It is not a linear process either, and everyone learns different life lessons at different stages in life. So, do not be disheartened if you feel you aren’t enough of do adulting currently. Everyone is learning how to be one- even so-called ‘established’ adults.