What #adulting Doesn’t Mean

I have blogged earlier this week about the #adulting phenomenon in which millennials find themselves. You can read those posts here and here.

But right now, I want to talk about what #adulting doesn’t mean.

It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some candy on Halloween (or steal your kids’).

It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to cry over spilled milk.

It doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes. It just means you must

learn from them.

It certainly doesn’t mean you can’t be silly. Be you.

It doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help.

It doesn’t mean your favorite movies can’t be Disney Pixar.

It doesn’t mean your feelings can’t be hurt.

It doesn’t mean you can’t

Sing in the shower

Dance in the rain

Go on an adventure

Get lost

Take selfies.

Adulting doesn’t mean giving up on your dreams.

If you want to write a novel and be on Ellen,

  Do it.

That dream isn’t just for “kid” you.

It’s for “you” you.

It doesn’t mean you have to be a realist or a pessimist.

It does not mean you can’t


It doesn’t mean you have to like black coffee and the History Channel.

It doesn’t mean starting every story with “back in my day…”

It doesn’t mean you have to get married and have children.

It doesn’t mean you stop obsessing over things like Harry Potter and Wicked the Musical.

It doesn’t mean you have to find God.

It doesn’t mean you have to lose God.

It doesn’t mean you have to like politics.

It doesn’t mean being on your own.

It doesn’t mean you can’t find love at first sight.

It doesn’t mean you change what you stand for.

It just means becoming conscious of your being and how you fit into the universe.

It means learning how to be kind and empathetic to all people.

It means finding yourself in new and foreign situations, and somehow surviving.

It means becoming fiscally responsible and building credit.

It means supporting others.

A spouse.




Your aging parents.


It means losing the people you love while finding new love along the way.

It means becoming a professional.

Not a stereotypical professional…but a professional “you”.

It means recognizing your strengths and being willing to develop your weaknesses.

It means keeping it together when you’re ready to





a p a r t

…and then realizing it’s still okay to fall apart. You just have to be able to glue yourself back together again.

It means placing your trust in others, and recognizing when it is time to pull that trust away.

It means hard work…






Without my Mommy

I was 18, attending my first college orientation, and shoved into a large computer lab with other confused adolescents… without my mommy.
Not. Cool. 

You know what doesn’t make sense?

Choosing a major at 18.

We all think we are big, bad adults when we turn 18, but the truth is I didn’t know shit when I was 18.

How can a

hormonally unstable

18-year-old individual declare what she is going to do for the rest of her life? As a recent high school graduate, you will be working in your chosen career much longer than you’ve even been alive thus far.







But it happens. We graduate high school and immediately have to adult. Decide what you’re doing with your life, or else you’re a bum.

Has anyone else noticed that?

The kids who start college with an “undeclared” major, or announce to friends and family they are “undecided” are stereotyped as bums or slackers or as indecisive.

Maybe they are the ones who are #adulting better.

Maybe they are more calculating about this life thing.

I didn’t want to be that guy. That “undeclared” or “undecided” guy. So, I decided. Because I thought that was the “adult” thing to do.



At eighteen.



I wanted to write.

I didn’t know what, but I wanted to.

Maybe children books, or romance stories. Maybe even news articles or magazine editorials.             Something.

For me, part of #adulting must mean listening to your parents when they ask, “But what kind of job are you going to get with a Creative Writing degree?”

At first, I chose Grand Valley State University. Because my grandmother was sick, and that inspired me to become a Radiation Therapist.

But then, I changed my mind.

Go figure.

I moved to Education.                                 Which also didn’t pan out in the end.

Had I initially decided upon education, I would have ended up attending a completely different school. Aquinas. But there I was, at GVSU.

Again, how different would I be now?

Not that there’s anything wrong with GVSU. I didn’t mind it at all. I commuted.

In fact, after the mess of what was my Freshmen year, I was hardly on campus at all.

Yes. Freshmen year was a mess. Let’s ponder scheduling a moment.

I was 18, attending my first college orientation, and shoved into a large computer lab with other confused adolescents… without my mommy.




I was just happy to figure out how to register for classes. No one told me there was a strategy behind choosing which classes to take when and where. And so, I ended up commuting to campus daily. And working almost every evening back home at KFC.


Freshmen 15? You mean Freshmen -15.


I settled on an English major.

All it took was 3 weeks of a horrid English class dissecting “classic” texts and reading poems while asking questions like, “Why do you think the author describes this rocking chair as blue?”


I dropped my English major and picked up the complete opposite.


I didn’t stick with Spanish Education (with a minor in psych solely because it was the teachable minor with the least amount of credits) because I had at long last discovered what I was meant to do for the rest of my life. I stuck it out because #adulting. That’s just what you do.

I wasted a lot of tears on my education and put in a lot of sweat studying and striving to do well.

Most college kids have one desire: just get it done.

Or party.

I just wanted to be done already.

Make money.

Get married.

Make babies.

Preferably in that order.

But what about getting more than ¾ through your degree and deciding you hate it? Like, really hate it.

What is #adulting? Do you suck it up buttercup and finish, get your big girl job, then go back to school later to try something different?

Or do you walk, call it quits, and search for your real passion?

One of those I call adulting. The other I call brave. (I might also call it stupid. But that doesn’t make it any less brave).

Me? I would finish. Get a real career then maybe explore other options later.  But perhaps listening to your gut is more #adulting than I give it credit for. Like I said, matter of opinion.

I’ve been there. My undergraduate degree is in education. And I hated it. I knew I hated it when I started my student teaching. “Child” me wanted to walk. “Adult” me knew I had to push through and start a real career.

So I did. I couldn’t waste it all.

I told myself the hatred toward my student teaching experience was situational. Breaking down the barriers my students at that inner city high school had built proved difficult, especially with a host teacher who didn’t even present me with so much as a hammer for a teaching tool. (Give me an Amen if you student taught for a dude who only hosted student teachers to get out of doing any work.)

My student crowds of over thirty were less than enthused to be taking Spanish, or, in many cases, already spoke Spanish and were bored out of their minds. And on top of that, many were uninterested in forming a relationship with the instructor. With me.

I quickly learned teachers must be a puzzle master… and I historically struggle bus with puzzles. Seeing those students was a secret mission in itself… How could I possibly capture the attention of those students with whom I share little in common? How can I earn their respect and in turn build a relationship with them and help them succeed? Skill. That’s how. Practice and skill.

But I was made to feel I had no such skill. The teacher I worked with (…for…) was horrid. He continuously signed up to host student teachers specifically so that he did not have to do work. There was no noble passing down of knowledge happening there. Nothing.

So I lied to myself. I lied and told myself I would really shine in a different scholarly environment. I lied big and I lied loud, and I lied hard.

This lie to myself got me through, got me my degree, got me a subbing job, and eventually got me my first teaching job. It got me places. But it was an adult lie.

It took me about 4 months of teaching high school assholes to realize how much I had lied to myself.

I wasn’t prepared to be a teacher, despite my education. A 23-year-old woman fresh out of college simply cannot successfully control a room of hormonal Gen Z high school students who have no real desire to learn a foreign language.

And if you can, you’re my hero.

It just wasn’t

for me.

Back then, I felt like a large part of being an adult meant being respected, not just by those younger than you, but by your colleagues and superiors. Teaching gave me no feeling of respect. I didn’t feel appreciated.

I didn’t feel anything.

Not to discourage anyone from the profession of teaching. Like I said, it just wasn’t


Like I had hoped it would be.

I didn’t quit. I adulted, stuck it out, and I started my master’s degree.

Master’s in Strategic Communication Management.

Best. Decision. Of. My. Life.

Going back to school after you’ve started your big girl job because you want more for yourself and are prepared to put in all the time and effort? #adulting.

Shout out to all you hardworking ladies and fellas who are working, learning, and supporting all at once. You’re my heroes. Keep showing ’em how it’s done.


“Circle time!” My kindergarten teacher’s unusually high, lispy voice echoed in my small ears as I ducked under the playhouse door and cast aside my apron.

I played the mom on Tuesdays.

I took my spot in what I now remember as an oval as opposed to a circle. The carpet was a strange mix of navy, orange, and copper colors. They were all mixed together in some sort of awful concoction. I sat “Indian style” (totally politically correct…)  and impatiently rocked side to side awaiting directions.

“Let’s talk about what we want to be when we grow up!” The teacher sang as she sat in her worn rocking chair, brushing a golden curl out of her brown eyes.






“Accountant.”  (Who the heck was that kid?)





I would love to conduct a long-term study determining what percentage of those kiddos actually grew up to be what they said they would be in Kindergarten.

I was one of the kids who sang out “teacherrrrrr!” I don’t know now if I meant it, or if I was brownnosing (quite possibly the latter… I was notorious for that later in life).

But I said it.

And it did happen.

At least for a little while.

My teacher collected responses from all the children and continued to sing an awful song about growing up and accomplishing your wildest dreams.

I threw up my pizza all over the carpet a few moments later.

Let’s step back.

I’m a millennial.

And I’d place bets that you are, too.

Or perhaps you are the parent of one. Which is not easy. Kudos to you for not killing your kid and doing the best you could.

The life of a millennial, the whole growing up thing, seems to be different than the way our parents or grandparents grew up. But really, the life of our parents and grandparents was different than their parents and grandparents. This modern phenomenon of millennials and how they stereotypically think and act is fascinating to me, and even more so because I am a member of this group, chronologically speaking.

As I exited my teens and started the journey through my 20’s, I found myself and many others around my age using the term “adulting” as we completed major life changes or experienced certain successes.

Suddenly, the word “adult” became a verb.

And as it became a verb, it became a goal that seems to be difficult to successfully achieve.  Every millennial’s end-goal is to become the successful adult.

Cool. I’ve got a direction.

The only trouble is…. How do I even go in the right direction??

I think everyone journeys into adulthood differently. And sometimes there are instances of pure “adulting” without being described as an actual adult.

I mentioned adulting to an old childhood friend, and how fascinating it is to see each other again as completely different people. He responded, “Well. The paychecks certainly don’t say I am an adult.”


Is bringing home a fat paycheck what the expectation of adulting has become?

Perhaps. For some.

I want to shed some light on this thing called life and #adulting.

Let’s get real for a sec.

I’m nothing special. But I’m me.

And you’re you. Maybe you’ve got like, 20 followers on Instagram including your grandmother. But you’re you, and we’re real. And there’s no one else like us. Maybe you’re a gen x-er who is unusually hip, or a member of Gen Z who actually sets down your smart phone, but my guess is you’re a millennial struggling to find your spot and watching reality


around you

like a


Totally been there.

You’re not alone.

Adulting is hard, the world is crazy, and there are so many real moments that pierce your lungs like ice and take your breath away.  If you look back a moment, how many times would you stop and say, “Whoa, is this actually happening to me?”

And how many of those instances would deserve a “#adulting” caption on Twitter?

We don’t know what we’re doing.

And it’s all good.