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Adulting 101: Do I Ever Graduate to Adulting 102?

“This adulting thing is more challenging than I thought,” I sigh. “Do I have any clue what I am doing?”

At times, “adulting” is more difficult than I thought. There are work demands, dating expectations, and the overtaxed Nissan that is more temperamental than yours truly. There are mounting credit card bills (remember to cancel that Starwood Preferred card, Matt). And, of course, there is that ever expensive grad school degree just two single, solitary classes away.

Insert Jen–almost on cue–chiming in, “And don’t forget about your daily chores. Watson needs a half a cup of food at 5:30 PM–sharp.”

Most days, I think I am a capable, responsible individual. I write handwritten thank you notes; I file my taxes on time; I return phone calls promptly (give or take a couple days). I have a doting extended family (love you, aunties and uncles) and a motley crew of close friends.

But, truthfully, this adulting thing is tougher than advertised. There are days when playing hide and seek with the bedroom covers–or lost and found with the remote controller–sounds appealing. Much more appealing.

Here’s the thing–and a little secret that provides some solace:  No one (and I mean no one) has this “adulting” thing figured out. It is trial by fire–and all of us get burned at some point.

Case in point: careers and relationships.

Regarding the former, it takes time to figure out what you can do and, as importantly, what you enjoy doing. I have spent the better part of my 20s and 30s figuring out both–and am only now inching closer to a long-term career. There is no career roadmap (trust me, I have futilely searched for one). And as for those carefully crafted career plans, life–from kids to money to a career epiphany (in my case, I found law equal parts stifling and hierarchical)–can and do interfere.

Relationships, likewise, are complex. Many of us envision a lifetime of relationship bliss with a doting, faithful partner. We even having the beaming wedding photos to prove it. But as those memories fade (maybe to black), the realities of a challenging–even fraught–relationship emerge. Among those uncomfortable questions: Maybe we just aren’t compatible? Maybe we have different value systems? And, maybe, raising a couple of challenging kids is tougher than expected.

Adulting is more complex that those starry Facebook or Instagram posts (I am probably guilty of the former). There is a lot of daily minutiae that we endure–snarling traffic; a bullying boss; diaper duty with the kids–that those glossy Facegram photos somehow miss. On some days, it can be an accomplishment–a real, tangible accomplishment–just to grind through the day.

For the record, adulting is legitimately hard (and, no, I am not a pampered millennial). None of us–despite appearing “to have it all together”–really have it all together. We are all confronting the same frustration and uncertainties–and, on our better days, pumping our fist about (insert job promotion; Junior sleeping a full night; a three day weekend).

So my advice: Go easy on yourself and, for that matter, everyone else. Paraphrasing the esteemed Plato, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle–one that looks remarkably similar to our own.


Adulting 101: Do I Ever Graduate to Adulting 102?

Matthew Loeb

Matthew Loeb is a recovering attorney, part-time graduate student, and full-time mental health advocate. He shares stories and strategies about living--and thriving (at least some days)--with OCD.

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APA Reference
Loeb, M. (2019). Adulting 101: Do I Ever Graduate to Adulting 102?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Apr 2019
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