Creative Adulting: A Manifesto

Full Disclosure: My name is Katelynn, and I’m not a real Duchess. These are my real Thoughts though, just to be clear. I’m twenty-nine years old, I have two English Literature degrees, I live with my grandmother, and I don’t own a home. I have been at my full-time job for six years, I have a pension, retirement savings, and an investment account. I own my car, I have a dog who goes to day care, I don’t have any debt and I’m a high functioning depressive with an anxiety disorder. I am adulting as creatively as I possibly can.

women adulting around a table
Is it even adulting if there isn’t a charcuterie board involved? What if you can’t even spell it!?

I started this blog many years ago as a forum for my nonsensical top 10 lists, and transitioned it to a different format in 2016 while recovering from a major depressive episode. I realized I never really articulated what I meant by “Creative Adulting” and I’m not even certain I’ve provided any kind of guidance to that effect. Hopefully, this will clear things up.

“Adulting” as a term gets thrown around a lot, and in my experience is usually paired with some sort of self-deprecating remark suggesting that in fact there’s nothing ‘adult’ about it. i.e. “Put on pants today, #adulting #lol #blessed.” But here’s the thing – I think we’re being a bit too hard on ourselves and on each other for our perceived failure to achieve ‘adulthood’.

To my mind, ‘adult’ means nothing more than the fact that you’ve reached physical maturation. That’s it. There’s no Checklist that upon completion means you’ve Made It. Checklists save lives when it comes to operating rooms and flying planes, but there should be no checklist for adulthood.

Hear me out : from a social history perspective, both childhood and teenage-hood are really social constructions that grew and evolved over time as longevity increased and the labour force shifted and mechanized.

There was a time when childhood was nothing more than the years before you developed any kind of motor skills –the second you were relatively capable they were sending you scampering under dangerous machinery in factories and up the chimneys of the wealthy. No joke. Teenagers weren’t a thing until the 20th century when people stopped dying by the age of 47 and weren’t getting married off for dowries at the age of 13.

I’m being facetious but my point is these things are fluid, and they’re constructed. In the 21st century, it feels like Adulthood is a construction designed for nothing more than dangerous comparison and a really fun game of Less Than (Editor’s Note: Less Than is not a fun game at all. Go play Life or Mousetrap or something instead).

We’ve all got this idea that there are a set of tasks or life events that upon completion will unlock the Achievement: Adult. I’m guilty of it myself, but it’s wrong. Getting married, buying a house, having kids are all significant life events but they aren’t the things that qualify you as an adult. If you have a baby when you’re 15 years old, you’re not an adult. You’re still a teenager who will be forced to mature faster than your peers and make a lot of challenging decisions that your friends won’t be faced with until much later.

Buying a house is…a rant for a whole other post. If you live in a housing market that is as

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
No offense to checklists or anything.

much of a dumpster fire as mine is, or you’re paying down student debt or carrying for aging relatives or you travel a lot for work or for fun – buying a house may not be in the cards right now. That doesn’t make you any less of an adult, it simply makes you an adult with different priorities.

You guys, Creative Adulting is about dropping the checklist, embracing the variables and messiness that is life and learning to be compassionate with ourselves and with each other. We live in a world in which science has told us we have TWELVE YEARS to fix the damage we’ve done to the planet before we hit the “Point of No Return” (look that shit up), social media is fucking with everyone’s heads, and America is being governed by a stark raving lunatic who thinks climate change was invented by the Chinese to ruin American industry. The VERY least we can do is to be a bit kinder, a little less judge-y, and stop comparing ourselves to each other.

Every one of us is doing the best we can with what we have – we aren’t all working with the same set of tools. Let’s be happy for our friends who have found their dream homes, those who have decided to get married, those who are living at home and paying down debt, those who are content with two cats and a bachelor apartment, and those who have started families.

I’m calling for a Creative Adulting revolution. This is about getting comfortable with who you are, finding your tribe, and figuring out what sets your soul on fire. Fuck the checklist.