• "As a child in a mixed-race family, I had very different notions of what being an adult meant." (Supplied)
It's no big deal to "adult" if you've grown up with a hard work ethic.
By
Lisa Dib

15 Nov 2017 - 1:54 PM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2017 - 1:56 PM

Ever since the term “adulting” slithered its way into the internet lexicon, it’s garnered a great deal of attention and some backlash. It’s inspired think-pieces, books, and a surprising slew of vitriol.

There’s a fair amount of contempt reserved, evidently, for people that end their banal tweets (“Soup for dinner tonight!”) with ‘#adulting’, or have some silly mug on their work desk, an annoying but ultimately harmless habit.

The term is used to describe the undertaking of typically ‘grown-up’ habits, like going to the gym, cooking the next week’s meals in advance, or doing laundry. The people that use ‘#adulting’ will usually add it as a proud addendum to some compulsory but boring task they had to fulfil.

There’s a fair amount of contempt reserved, evidently, for people that end their banal tweets (“Soup for dinner tonight!”) with ‘#adulting’

As a child in a mixed-race family, I had very different notions of what being an adult meant. Back in Lebanon, my father had worked since he was very young, helping to provide for his large family before emigrating here to Australia at age 15. My grandfather even gave my dad some of his disciplinary duties.

Compare that to my mother’s working-class Australian upbringing, which was more typical of what white Australians might have experienced; her parents worked various average-paid jobs, meaning my mother didn’t have to go out and work herself. In my home, if a task had to be done, my father would force me to do it while my mother might just do it herself.

By 18, I was forced to get a job when my parents split and my sister and I moved in with my mother. Her low-paying job meant I also had to throw in financial support. I resented what I saw as my mother’s own inability to ‘adult’ properly, which didn’t exactly foster a great work ethic in me at the time. I didn’t know about the class system and poverty cycles then, so I had no context for why people didn’t just “get” well-paying jobs, like they could pick and choose.

I was always a little bit ‘behind’ my friends in things back then: the last to get their first job, not having my license. I didn’t move out until I was 22, while many of my friends were in share houses by 18. Of course, my Greek and Italian friends never even broached the idea of share house living; they were expected to live at home with their families until they got married. Indeed, this is how many Australians live these days; according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, young people are more likely now than in previous generations to be living at home for longer. Presumably, this is more a result of the boomers’ trashing of the housing market than anything else.

By 18, I was forced to get a job when my parents split and my sister and I moved in with my mother

The ‘adulting’ guides are merely playing into a feeling a lot of people have, which is that we are not “living properly”. The tasks of adulthood can be confusing at times (I can’t tell you how difficult I found it trying to buy health insurance) but you don’t stop learning things in school just because you’re not being forced to anymore. Learning how to drive was an “adult” thing I put off for many years, out of fear, but I improved with each lesson and gradually, it became habit.

Sometimes we need to be told, or shown, or taught, how to do something, and that’s totally okay; but putting something necessary or useful aside out of willful ignorance (like learning your rights as a renter if you rent a home) laziness or apathy is deliberately putting yourself at greater disadvantage.

Looking objectively at your own skill set might make you wonder: how much am I “supposed” to know how to do by now? I empathise with those that feel overwhelmed by life and its many and varied tasks, because of how often I feel the same, but a more useful action than throwing one’s hands up and saying, “Adulting is too hard!” would be asking for help, or doing your homework. 

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