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Adulting Is a Thing (It Always Has Been)

Photograph by Twenty20

Adulting has always been a thing, even if we've only just now got an Internet-y name for it. Adulting, as Jezebel's Madeleine Davies summarizes so precisely, is being a grown-up.

Ahhh, but that's not quite the full picture of adulting, she goes on to deride/explain. Adulting is also the need to be patted on the head for doing what's expected of you.

To wit: Tweets and Facebook posts like,

Or, you know, opening a bank account? Adulting.

Davies, 28, thinks all this need to brag (even, she offers, "humble brag") about mundane accomplishments during the day in the life of a 20- or 30-something is pathological. And overblown. Making dinner, doing dishes, having babies when you're of legal age and have been for, ahem, at least a decade? That's not adulating.

That's adulthood. And you don't get rewarded for it.

But, c'mon, Davies, where's the fun in that?

She offers her mom as an example. At Davies' age, she already had a second kid on the way, a house to pay for and a career she was pursuing. And did her mom think she was adulting? No. She was just dutifully fulfilling society's expectations for what a woman of a certain class, a certain age, a certain background should be doing. She was, if the literature of the times was on point in Davies' mom's life as it apparently was for many women, sublimating her own ambition to birth, feed and clothe her babies—and with no support from society, no paid maternity leave, no governmental subsidies or (and this is a huge assumption, but let's go for it) Davies' father doing 50 percent of any of that domestic drudgery.

Even worse for our TMI habits today, Davies' mom couldn't grouse about any of it on the Internet because Al Gore hadn't finished inventing it yet.

Kids—even adult-aged kids these days, they've got choices. Lots of choices. More choices can often be overwhelming and chaotic. Making a decision, even one as straightforward as, say, doing the dishes rather than letting them mold in sink, feels like an accomplishment. Like something your (or Davies') mom would do without hesitation (because there maybe there wasn't the choice to just leave them).

Adulting and #adulting are a couple of things: an extension of our desire to checklist everything online. As Davies points out, they're also a way to show off. (Welcome to 2015?)

Adulting and #adulting also serve collectively as metaphors for an era where the possibilities really are, in theory, endless but the economic structures (lack of affordable housing, stagnated wages) make living in the grown-up world kind of a feat when even the simplest goal is reached.

Like having a minimum deposit amount to finally, like a grown-up, open a bank account.

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