How To Be An Adult: 3 Real Pieces of Advice

Take responsibility for yourself

1. Make your own decisions. In your twenties, I think it’s best to actually avoid turning to your parents for help. While it’s good to stay open to their viewpoints, don’t go to your parents regularly. This doesn’t mean disregarding their emotional support, just that there is value in learning to solve your own practical problems.

The more often you figure your own way out of problems--whether that be something practical and concrete like how to fix your car to something more abstract like how to deal with romantic relationships--the more empowered you will feel. Some of the most adult-like (is that a word? Don’t ask your mom!) young adults I know are children of immigrants or first-generation college students. Their parents’ lack of education or resources forced them out of necessity to figure things out on their own. Although they deserve support and aid, these individuals are arguably better off than kids whose parents bailed them out of every problem by keeping them infantilized and disempowered. Plus when you take care of your own problems as they come up, you can learn about yourself and form your own attitudes toward the world. So, it’s also a way to get to know yourself.

But despite everything I just said, you don’t need to go through everything alone. Personally, I’m always on blogs like Her Campus reading as many tips and tricks as I can to help get through this thing called life!

Figure out your personal style (that doesn’t have the Marvel logo)

2. Dress in a way that works for you but is adult (well duh, Ingrid). Clothing is something we wear every day that indirectly communicates so much about ourselves. Being an adult means knowing what makes you feel most confident and comfortable. Young adults who aren’t confident in transitioning to adulthood and identifying as an adult may still dress like teenagers.

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

I know some people will disagree, but as a reformed fangirl, I think I have some credibility with this semi-judgmental piece of advice: don’t wear fandom merchandise or ill-fitting clothes as your everyday clothes. Period. It can show a bit of personality and playfulness when you own a small Pikachu keychain or have a Taylor Swift sticker on your laptop. But for the most part, most professionals that are successful in their field don’t take young adults who carry My Chemical Romance bags or crop tops to lecture all that seriously.

Generally speaking, it is viewed as typical college behavior to wear sweats and hoodies to class, but it can make connecting with professors in office hours or leading a club meeting a little difficult. Sweats encourage you to go home and take a nap instead of showing up to that internship panel. The most successful undergrads are usually already dressing with some professionalism in mind that also fits their personal style.

Watch your daily routine

3. Time for some blunt comparison: a classmate recently told me that the first thing they do after waking up in the morning is watch 30 minutes of Netflix. On the other hand, I also have a roommate who hits the gym almost every morning. Neither of these individuals is inherently better or worst than the other as we all need our #Netflixandchill time along with some gym time. But in terms of being an adult, who comes across as more like one with that morning routine? Yep, it’s my roommate. Incorporating regular and productive behaviors into your routine that show you value your health are essential to being an adult. As unsexy and unfun as it sounds, I think most hobbies should focus on improving yourself and valuing your time. This isn’t just limited to the gym but can include things like reading books on “serious” topics that you don’t know much about or learning how to cook the meal your mom always prepared for you.

Little behaviors centered around the maintenance of your health and intellect can build up and extend into other habits and personality traits, such as getting over social anxiety or becoming comfortable talking on the phone.

Don’t sweat this advice

Some of these tips (or even all of them) may be things you already do or they may be completely foreign. Either way, becoming a functioning adult is not something that happens overnight. And, being an adult doesn’t mean throwing away our inner child or disregarding fun. Nor does it mean making ourselves miserable by only wearing stuffy pantsuits. If something truly makes you happy and confident like wearing a Peppa Pig crop top, don’t let this advice stop you! With summer on the way, there’s time to experiment with these tips. Like many other things in college and life, just take what works for you.