There’s a term that young people are beginning to use to describe the hardships of daily life: Adulting.
My daughter flashed it by me recently. Having had to take her car into the mechanic shop for some expensive repairs, she remarked, “Had to do some adulting today.”
There’s a certain angst associated with the word. Think about what this generation of young adults have to go through. Crippling student loans. Racial tensions. Political turmoil. Global warming. Covid masks and social distancing. Increasing technological perplexities and an increasing pace of life. And an ever widening isolation both physical and spiritual. This current generation of young people is faced with a world previous generations never had to deal with. Trying to be an adult these days can be daunting, confusing, even overwhelming.
For those of you who are in that situation, feeling the anxieties and trepidations of your age, wondering what’s on the other side of that doorknob, I have some words of semi-wisdom for you.
Do you ever feel like you’re just pretending to be grown-up? Like you’re doing grown-up things, but you really don’t feel grown-up? And it’s only a matter of time before someone sees through you? Well, here’s the secret. Everyone has felt that way when they were in their twenties. Your parents, your grandparents, your landlord, your college professors, your boss, your boss’s boss. Everyone.
I remember being in my twenties, fast-tracking myself in the corporate world, flying in to high-stakes meetings with important people and thinking to myself, I hope they don’t find out that I’m just a kid. I’m in a three-piece suit daydreaming about being a rock star in a touring band. That’s how I lived my twenties.
So you kind of muddle through this period of your life “pretending” to be an adult, and things happen. You get a degree or launch a career. You fall in love and marry. You buy a car or a house or a business. You start having children. And at some point, you realize, wait a second. I don’t think I’m pretending anymore. I’m actually…doing it.
You’re no longer adulting. You are an adult.
If you’re in this confusing time of life, especially if you are a blossoming artist of faith, here are a few tips to help you:
• Relax. Most of the adulting you do is just not that serious. Certainly you will make mistakes along the way, and some of them will have more consequence than others, but as long as you learn from them and not repeat them, you’ll be okay. It’s not the end of the world. Usually.
• Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the car mechanic or the tax preparer or the medical doctor or the finance officer if there are other options. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. And don’t believe everything you hear.
• On the other hand, don’t let the many options you have paralyze you into inaction. Commit to a thing, and see it through.
• Find a mentor. Find an older (i.e., more experienced) person that you trust for help or advice. You might be surprised to find out that older people would be happy to lend an ear or a hand if you would just ask.
• Finally, believe it or not, this time of your life is a wondrous adventure. Each generation has had their share of issues and challenges, and each generation has been able to create a great life out of them. You will too. Carpe diem. Seize your day.
Everything I’ve said in this blog post is applicable not only to life, but to our art as well. Sometimes we feel like we’re pretending to be an artist more than we are artmaking. But that’s okay. Whether you are holding a paint brush in front of a blank canvas, or sitting in front of a laptop staring at the first paragraph of your next novel, or grasping an Apple pen designing your next website, or strumming the beginnings of a new song on that guitar on your lap…
You can do this. You can.