I consider my twenties to be the wonder years, but not in the same way as the “Wonder Years.” Because when I watched the “Wonder Years,” I was in middle school and my greatest worry was how to fit in homework after soccer practice. Now, all that’s on my mind is how to handle adulting—preferably without going crazy.
While I have yet to master the art of aduling, I’m no longer a novice either. So here are my best Adulting 101 tips for how to prepare yourself for adulthood, how to start adulting, and most importantly, how to deal with adulting. For me, the key to handling adulthood is to do it with your own Flair and solid Faith.
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What is considered adulting?
Depending on who you ask or where you are in the world, the term “adulting” might mean different things. For example, in Andorra, people transitioned into adulthood once they were 29 or 30 years old and married. Which seemed crazy when I was a 22 year old who moved across the Atlantic to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant!
But nevertheless, my adulting definition comes down to three things. Adulting is characterized by what you do with your time, how you spend your money, and your level of independence.
- What you do with your time: Whether that’s working, studying for an advanced education degree, or running a household, these things usually mean you qualify for adulting.
- How you spend your money: Unfortunately, adults don’t always get to spend money on the things they want, but the things they have to, like utility bills!
- Level of independence: Once you fly the coop, start making your own decisions, pay your own bills without having to justify your decisions to others, I’d say you’re well into the realm of “adulting.”
What’s the hardest part of adulting?
So that being said, the hardest part of adulting is figuring out how to handle the different parts of adulthood all at once when you don’t have a degree in project management! It can seem like quite a juggling act when all of the different parts of adulthood hit at once — paying bills, researching investments, managing projects at work, meal-prepping, cooking, and more.
But with a bit of guidance, time management, flair, and faith, the question of how to handle adulting will seem a lot less daunting.
How to Prepare Yourself for Adulthood
I’ll start off my adulting basics with what I call laying the groundwork: preparing yourself for adulthood!
There’s actually a lot you can do before flying away from the nest so that you have the skills and confidence necessary for adulting with a lot less stress. The key is to start small, save along the way, and don’t go it alone.
Step One: Take on More Adulting throughout college
No one said you have to go from college girl to full fledged adult overnight. That would be like getting your learner’s permit on Monday and then going on a cross country roadtrip the next morning.
So why not space out the learning for handling adulthood, too?
In college, you can gradually take on more responsibilities to prepare yourself for adulthood. Every year, try to think of more things that you can take off your parent’s plate and put on your own.
For example, my freshman year, I went grocery shopping, had a credit card, and managed a budget to pay for books. Then my junior year, I rented an apartment off campus and had additional responsibility to pay my rent and do meal planning.
Little by little, you can learn some adulting basics that will come in handy later.
Step Two: Save Money – Adulting is Expensive
When I graduated college, one of the first things I did was buy a plane ticket to go to Andorra to teach. However, the Fulbright for Andorra didn’t pay you until you got there, so I was glad I had some money saved for the plane ticket and other things that came up before I could start my full-time job.
Once you land that job, internship, fellowship, or whatever you’re doing next after undergrad, you’ll likely have to spend some money getting set up. Whether it’s moving costs, apartment deposits, or buying a new wardrobe to work on Wall Street, you may want to have some cash on hand.
Step Three: Find people to support you as you start adulting
There’s a misconception that adults don’t ask for help as if asking for help disqualifies us from adulthood. I say the opposite.
Maturity comes from knowing when to ask for help.
Adulting may mean that your name is the only one on the lease or the only one on your healthcare plan, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go at it alone. Find people to support you along your journey.
Some people who can help you to prepare yourself for adulthood are:
- Your parents
- An older sibling
- An older college mentor
- Your extended family
- A spiritual mentor or small group leader
- A work colleague
There is a lot of stress in early adulthood, so don’t try to carry it all on your shoulders.
How to Start Adulting
Now that you know a couple of ways to prepare yourself for adulthood, how do you get the ball rolling and start adulting?
So, starting to be an adult is not really a conscious decision. It just springs up on you, and you have to roll with the punches. But if I had to put together some steps for how to start adulting, I’d say the most important items to get down are supporting, sheltering, and nourishing yourself.
Step One: Find a Job – Support Yourself
If you want to start adulting, you’ve got to have a job! And if not a job, then some way to support yourself. We need money to make the world go round, and as a former economics student, I fervently agree and support the notion that nothing is free!
But nonetheless, it feels good to work hard and earn that dollar!
Step Two: Find a Place to Live – Shelter Yourself
The next step in adulting is finding a place to live. Whether you’re working or studying or doing a combination, you’ve got to have somewhere to lay your head at the end of the night.
And trust me, when you’re doing that adulting thing, you will want to. Whether you’re at home with your parents, bunking with a roommate, or out somewhere on your own, just make sure it’s a place where you can rest.
Step Three: Take Care of Yourself – Nourish Yourself
My last point about how to start adulting is all about nourishment. You’ve got to take care of yourself.
This is more than just making sure you have something to eat (though that is certainly a priority), but also making sure you have the resources to be successful. In the art of adulting, resources can be anything like:
- Budget guidelines for managing your finances
- Cookbooks and recipes for eating healthy
- A workout plan to help you exercise regularly
- Planners to help you keep track of dates and set personal goals (free printable in post)
- Books, journals, and funny movies to help you destress
- Reflection questions to ask yourself at the end of the year (free printable in post)
- Bible Plans to grow your relationship with Jesus
- Spa days and self care activities to take time for yourself
How to Handle Adulthood
Okay, so we’ve talked about how to prepare for adulthood and how to start adulting, what’s next? How to deal with adulting!
That’s right, how to handle adulting may be the most important part. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ve got to keep it from rolling away!
Adulting 101 Tips
For this section, I’ve included my best Adulting 101 Tips. With the basics that I’ve outlined above, these tips are just friendly reminders for when the adulting world seems less than welcoming. Remember to learn from your mistakes, celebrate your successes, say no to yourself, and be gracious to yourself.
1. Learn from Your Mistakes
As your independence grows and you start making your own decisions, it’s natural that you will make mistakes along the way. But don’t let that discourage you. The important thing is to own up to those mistakes and learn from them.
It’s definitely okay to make mistakes; it’s the repeated mistakes we want to avoid!
2. Celebrate Your Successes
This is the part where you definitely get to add your own flair. In the adult world, suddenly very small things seem to be a huge deal. Like if you find a coupon online for your favorite shampoo, get a parking spot right in front of your apartment building, or nail a 15 minute presentation at work.
Celebrate those successes! Thank the Lord for them. Take some time to enjoy the good things before you barrel down to the next thing.
3. Say No to Yourself
To handle adulthood, you have to be able to say no to yourself. Sometimes finances are tight and you can’t go out every Friday night. Maybe you’ll have to skip the movie so you can be well rested for your big presentation the next day.
Adults have to make tough decisions, and sometimes that means saying no to yourself.
4. How to Deal with Adulting: Be Gracious to Yourself
The best advice I can give for how to handle adulthood is to be gracious to yourself. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or put extra pressure on yourself to have all of the answers.
Remember the importance of faith I mentioned at the beginning of this post? It comes into play with all of the steps outlined above, but it’s especially important here.
In Proverbs 16 (NIV), it says:
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.” (v.3)
“In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.” (v.9)
Whether my Adulting 101 tips work for you or not, the most important thing about adulting is your faith in Jesus. God is the one who determines our steps and blesses our journeys.
All our journeys in life will be different, but they will all be in His hands. You can trust that He has the best for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and put the stress of early adulthood into His hands.
So how can I be good at adulting?
Have a good attitude, ask a lot of questions, and know when to ask for help. The best way to learn how to handle adulting is to start adulting and be open to learning along the way. It’s not all pancakes and rainbows, but at the end of the day, being an adult is pretty nice if you add flair and faith.
Enjoy this time of life, because as you know, these are the Wonder Years! 🙂
Don’t miss these other posts about Adulting!
- Adulting Life Truths — Because Adulting is Hard
- 31 Personal Goals Every Woman in Her 20s Should Consider
- 35 Thoughtful Reflection Questions for the End of the Year (or Anytime!)
So, what are your best Adulting 101 tips?
Leave me a comment below!
Featured Images: From Pixabay, created with Canva (1); From the free photo library at Canva, created with Canva (2).
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