Additions to the English language are a normal occurrence, and it’s actually a very good thing. Of course, sometimes these words are vapid indicators of our modern society. I held my tongue when Oxford Dictionaries acknowledged “twerking” and “selfie,” but I can’t in good conscious overlook the recent trend of celebrating one’s “adulting.”
Look up the hashtag “#adulting” on Twitter and you’re likely to find young twenty-somethings sharing menial victories. For example: “Paid my credit card completely off this morning! #adulting” or “Woke up at 7 to go to work. #adulting.”
In the past year alone, the term “adulting” has increased in online usage by 700 percent. It’s now so commonplace that companies like Reese’s and McDonald’s are using it on social media to target millennial customers.
Do companies use it because we do, or do we use it because companies do? That’s a discussion for a marketing major far smarter than I. The reality is that “adulting” is everywhere, and we need to retire it immediately.
Saying that you have “adulted” is to create a distance between yourself and actual adults who simply go about their daily lives 24 hours a day. They pay their taxes and no one applauds—if they were to brag about it, their peers would say, “Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t you?”
Worst of all, “adulting” trivializes those who really are making our lives better. How disrespectful is it to equate making your own dinner with a single mother holding two jobs and raising her kids? That’s an extreme and cynical example, but I’m trying to make a point.
Yes, truly being an adult is a verb. It’s intentional, and it isn’t always easy. But being an adult isn’t doing the laundry without shrinking your pants or reading a book without pictures.
Caring for people other than yourself. Shouldering responsibility. Earning someone’s trust and not soiling it. Facing each new challenge with humility and bravery, not fishing for hollow sympathy from hollow people online. These are the marks of an adult.
“#Adulting” is keeping us from growing up. If making a phone call is your standard of acting like an adult, you’ll never make it in this world. Let’s raise the bar and aspire to more.