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When Does Adulting Become Adulthood?

Adulting: it’s not a real word, yet one we cannot stop using. Adulting is the term we millennials use when we are trying to convey what we have done throughout the day. Did you make your own dentist appointment? Did you successfully use the stove? You’ve “adulted”! Great job!

The reason millennials continuously keep using this term is because we don’t actually feel like adults. So when does “adulting” simply become “adulthood”? At the age of 18, the world considers us legal adults. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many high school seniors who I would consider adults.

College is a liminal time in our lives. We are not girls, but not yet women (thanks, Britney!). I find that when I have to refer to myself, I often say “female” because I cringe at the term “girl” and cannot admit to myself that I am a woman. A woman is someone who is powerful, strong, has a sense of direction. She’s much older than me. But really, she’s not.

So when should we stop saying that we are “adulting”? When does the Adulting Handbook say that we have earned the right to call ourselves women? Most of the college students I know are either (a) living at home with their parents, but working to pay their own bills or (b) living away from home, but on their parents’ dime. These are the same groups of people who excitedly announce that their laundry is done or their fridge is stocked full of groceries for the week. These are the people who cannot admit that what they are doing for themselves is a step towards adulthood.

Maybe we consistently say that we are only “adulting” because we are afraid of adulthood. The minute we admit that we are adults, we feel as though we have to become independent, and that’s a scary thought. How can we break away from mom and dad when it’s all we’ve ever known?

So, how do you know if you’re “adulting” or an actual adult? Here’s a checklist:



  • You did your own laundry and then tweeted that it was done

  • You begged your mom to schedule a doctor’s appointment for you, but when she refused, you finally gave in and did it yourself

  • You made dinner and then Instagrammed a picture of it to prove to the world that you are independent

  • You’ve ever used #adulting



  • You remember to pay your bills on time, every time

  • You are constantly worried about your credit score

  • You signed your own lease, whether it be on a car or apartment

  • You do your laundry, make your dinner and assume everyone around you does the same

  • You only call your mom once a day versus six


Where do you fit in? As a collegiette, probably somewhere in the middle. Like I said, it’s a liminal time for us. College is the time where we are forced to be independent – no one else is going to keep track of our schedules and make sure we wake up for every single class. No one is going to watch that we do our homework or eat three healthy meals throughout the day. But at the same time, someone will remind us that our car insurance payment is due or teach us the right way to clean the bathroom (thanks, Mom!). It’s not complete independence, but it’s not complete dependence, either.

The only thing we can do is continue to “adult” more and more each day, until eventually, we wake up one morning in our own apartment, with our own full-time job, driving a car we paid for and realize that adulthood is upon us.

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Over caffeinated 80s junkie who talks a mile a minute. Just call me Lorelai Gilmore.  I love books, football and being punny. You can usually find me with my nose in a book or snuggled on the couch watching something I've already seen at least five times. 
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