How To Be An Adult, if being an “adult” is defined by paying rent only a few days late

It’s not that being an adult is hard per se, it’s just that stuff keeps popping up that no one taught you how to do. When I was younger I remember looking at adults and thinking they had it all together, they pay their bills, they have stocks, they have retirement funds, they handle things. And I just assumed I would learn how to do all of these things, too. Now I know how to pay my bills, but I have no clue how to buy stocks or set up any kind of financial planning. Where do people learn this? Do I just walk into my bank and say “Hey I want stocks!”? I’m gonna try it, i’ll let you know how it goes.

Speaking of my bank, my dad wants me to get a credit card to build up my credit. I actually have a good credit score because of my student loans but my dad still thinks it’d be a good idea. I want to get a good one, with a low interest rate and rewards, here’s another thing I don’t know how to navigate. Cool.

My question is at what point is it not cute that I don’t know how to do these things? I think for now I’m harder on myself than, for example , my parents. They don’t expect me to have all this figured out. But then I look at Facebook and there are people my age buying houses and having babies. And all I have is a cactus plant. And I see all these girls that look my age and are dressed in fancy business outfits and carrying briefcases (not that I want to carry a briefcase) but I’m like how did you get that far this fast?? Did I miss something?

Is there a Coursera class on adulthood? Or did everybody just figure it out as they went along? Or is every 23 year old as confused as I am?

Maybe I am overreacting. I’m the type of person who likes to have a plan, and a backup plan. And a rainy day fund, and did I mention that I like plans? So being 23 and figuring it out is hard for me. But I think this is part of the process of growing up, to freak out about your lack of knowledge and then google “how to buy stocks”. Don’t ask me how anyone figured anything out before the internet.

2 thoughts on “How To Be An Adult, if being an “adult” is defined by paying rent only a few days late

  1. Like you, I did not receive a copy of “Adulthood for Dummies” with my cardboard tube at graduation (nor does that specific manual exist…though there is a pocket guide to adulthood on Amazon…). Sure, I have a briefcase, and some of my nicer work clothing isn’t from Target – but I certainly can’t claim to have it all figured out.

    Penn State offers “Grown Up 101” via Coursera, but once I realized “how to transfer one’s vehicle registration to a different state” was not on the syllabus, I dropped it. In the 18 months since college graduation the only wisdom on this subject I can offer you is this:

    Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

    As far as I can tell, adulthood merely means you’re officially responsible for figuring crap out yourself. It doesn’t mean you’ve figured it out, only that you’ve proved to society and God that you’re a competent googler, with a reasonable understanding of cause and effect (if I don’t pay rent, then I will be evicted etc). Don’t spin your wheels too long on any one problem; if there’s a phone number you can call, call. More likely than not, it is one person’s entire job to manage the menial task you’re trying to accomplish. Most importantly: friends, family, and ask.metafilter.com are all there to provide support and guidance along the way.

    Often the responsibility associated with being an adult sucks (read: bills). But then one night you share a piece of cake and a bottle of wine with a friend and call it dinner or buy a new outfit just because…and it’s like damn, life is good.

    1. I think we can all agree Gretchen needs her own blog! :) Thanks for the feed back, I’m glad I’m not the only one who Google’s these things, and I’m especially glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

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