A few weeks ago I was laughing at a FB post that a good friend of mine put up about a particularly tough morning of forgetting her keys, burning her breakfast, and locking herself out of her apartment. She ended the post by saying, “I forgot how to adult.” Several grammar nerds immediately assailed her post and vehemently corrected her use of the phrase “to adult.” She relented and changed it “to be an adult.” Later on I told her that I thought “to adult” was so spot on because an adult is not just a noun, but it’s also a brilliant verb when acted upon well.
Leaving your mama’s house, earning a degree, or knowing how to make a dollar do not automatically equip you with the skills to adult. To adult well takes YEARS of practice. To adult takes an enormous amount of faith, courage, discipline, humility, and strength. To adult requires knowing how to rejoice in your wins and humbly take an “L.” To adult demands being both risky and rational, wise and wild, carefree yet cautious, forward thinking and present living. To adult means accepting yourself at your best and being gentle and forgiving of yourself at your worst. To adult gives you the ultimate chance to choose love even when the possibility of heartbreak is ever present. To adult sometimes involves losing a job, a loved one, a dream, a friend, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But when you learn how to put all those pieces together and be the best of who you are even in the face of fear, there’s nothing sweeter than knowing just how good you can adult.
We also have to recognize and give each other grace when we don’t adult as well as we could. Some of us get really lucky with great parents, siblings, mentors, or other life guides who show us how to adult effectively. Some of us are just winging it and hope we don’t kill ourselves in the process of coming into who we are. Some of us may need to brush up on managing our dollars more wisely while others of us need to allow ourselves to love and be loved. Some us need to let go more often while others need to reign ourselves in. Some of us need to learn not to go to McDonald’s after the D’Angelo concert (Yes, I’m telling on myself, but I was hungry, and D’Angelo almost forced me to adult poorly and throw my panties at him. But I digress.)
To adult is indeed a privilege. My heart breaks when I think about precious babies like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice who will never get to adult. Their short lives and heartbreaking deaths remind me to adult with the reality that this human experience is but for a moment. To adult well means never taking any waking, breathing moment above ground for granted.
We never have to grow up, but life does require us to adult whether we like it or not. How we adult is the key to getting the most out of life. Use this day to adult not just because you have to, but adult well because you can.