You’ve seen this word floating around on the internet. Think about it; on blogs, on Instagram feeds, probably even in cat videos. It’s casually thrown in Snapchat stories by millennials who’ve just discovered the use of the crockpot, or by that friend who’s changed their family vehicle from a sedan to an SUV to accommodate the arrival of children. It’s used by makeup lovers who sacrifice their latest “obsession” in favor of paying for a textbook required for school, and by fresh college grads who’ve just discovered that their 9 to 5 might actually be 9 to 9. The word I’m referring to is “adulting” – sidebar, is adulting even a word or did someone influential like Kendrick Lamar make it up?
Perhaps the reason you’ve seen this word around so much is that our generation finds it so hard. Back in Pakistan, I felt like an adult (most of the time). I mean my family might have still treated me as a kid and not given heed to my opinions, but I was working, earning money and spending it as I saw fit, I was driving a car, I was voting. That’s what being an adult means, right? At least this is how I used to think until we decided to move to the U.S. for Usman’s MBA. That’s when the real adulting hit. Suddenly, we were sitting in Karachi, facing many unknowns e.g. figuring out how to rent an apartment 7,000 miles away. We tried to understand a foreign land’s lease agreement, what renter’s insurance was and what “sewage included in rent” meant. When we arrived here, we struggled with what seemed like simple ideas – opening a bank account, getting on a cellular plan, doing our own laundry. It seemed all our education and years of experience had flown away with the wind. We had both survived through the grueling CFA exams but we were stumped when the IKEA chair we were fixing up seemed to be missing a screw. I was miserable trying to plan meals for, well, every day. Watching my money go on groceries made me realize why it is painful to do grocery shopping.
As the months progressed, we made mistakes, broke a few glasses doing dishes, wasted some dollars on things we thought we needed but didn’t, and slowly and gradually, we got a hold of things. I’ve personally felt my growth, managing a small, but entire home. I keep track of utility bills, the latest news and student discounts. I really enjoy cooking food now and love having people over for dinners (2 years ago, I would have shuddered at the very thought). I still worry a lot – that’s never going away. But deep down I also know we’ll figure it out as we go along. Taxes, credit scores and health insurance may be my new kryptonite, but at least I’ve conquered fears about living on our own and doing some pretty adulty things that would have terrified a younger me. Adulting will always be hard. We will always see #adultingsucks trending. There will always be ups and downs in life. There will always be new challenges, new messes to clean up, new things to learn. There are probably no instruction manuals or rewind buttons. But that’s the beauty of adulting.