If you’re at all familiar with millennial vernacular, you’ve surely noticed the recent rise of the use of the word “adulting” as a verb. It’s the millennial term for taking on the grown-up responsibilities that come with adulthood, and is often preceded by a hashtag, as in: “Just made mac & cheese from scratch. #adulting” or, “Spent my whole paycheck on food and toilet paper. #adulting.”
Lord knows, I’m no millennial. I’ve been “adulting” since almost before the first millennial was born. And yet, I still often feel like an impostor grown-up. Even with the specter of 50 looming over the horizon, I feel like I have been taking the “fake it ’til you make it” approach to adulthood for the past 25 years.
I can fake my way around the kitchen fairly well. I can even fake my way through cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 12, as long as my mom is there to help me. But I’m not really sure if I could do it on my own if I had to. Do I really pass the grown-up test without taking a Butterball from frozen solid to roasted and carved, completely unassisted?
And shouldn’t a grown-up know the right way to respond when someone knocks on the bathroom stall you’re occupying? Is it, “Sorry!” or “YEP!” or “Occupied!” or “Just a minute!” or…WHAT? What is the proper etiquette? What does Emily Post say? (Is Emily Post even still around?)
The other day in the produce aisle at the grocery store I found myself faced with a few questions that have been haunting me for as long as I can remember: What the heck are those teeny tiny bananas for, anyway? What do they taste like? Who buys them? Why are they sometimes red? And shouldn’t I know the answers to these questions by now?
I don’t, though. And until now I’ve been too embarrassed to ask anyone. But a funny thing happens when you’re staring 50 in the face: you become a lot harder to embarrass. Your curiosity takes on an urgency when you grasp the reality that there’s still so much to learn, and a lot less time to learn it.
Recently, I was out to lunch with some friends and I finally got up the nerve to ask another etiquette question: When you’re at a buffet or a soup & salad bar and you pull the metal lid off of a container so you can scoop yourself some soup or salad dressing… what are you supposed to do with that lid? Are you supposed to just scooch it aside a bit until you have enough room to dip your ladle? Or should you take it all the way off and place it somewhere else while you scoop? Once I asked, it turned out that no one I was with knew how to answer my question. Which could indicate that it was just a really stupid question. But I choose to believe it indicates that it is something we each assumed we *should* know so we were all always afraid to ask. (In case you are wondering, the waitress eventually confirmed that we should remove the lid entirely and place it on top of a nearby closed lid.)
There are other things I should know by now but don’t: How to use a French press. How to put hair into a bun or a top knot. How to make my grandma’s recipe for chocolate sauce without scalding it or making it too watery. How to change my own oil. (Although, I actually think I knew how to do that at one point in my life.) How to paint a room without screwing something up. How to tip at the nail salon without messing up my manicure.
So be forewarned, friends & family. Now that I’m (almost) 50, expect to hear a lot more dumb questions from me as I try to learn as much as I can before it’s too late.
Even though I still have much to learn, I’ve clearly managed to fake my way into mastering most of the basics of adulting. I can pay bills, balance a checkbook, pump gas, shop for health insurance, read a map, plan a family vacation… I’ve raised two dogs and two humans to (almost) adulthood and occasionally have even kept plants alive for longer than a week. In fact, it’s safe to say I’ve moved into the next stage of adulting. I’m just having a hard time coining an appropriate hashtag for it. Let me try a few out here:
– “Colonoscopy prep night. Good times. #Fiftying”
– “Could I actually die if I have a hot flash in the middle of a hot yoga class? #Menopausing”
– “These new progressive lenses are da bomb! #AARPing”
– “Hanging with the hubs at the cardiologist office. #Middle-Aging”
What do you think? Pick one and get it trending. Let’s verb a word like those millennials did. Why should they have all the fun? Chances are they don’t even know how to address an envelope yet.