What’s an adult? And, more importantly, what is hashtag adulting? How do I know if I’m an adult? I think the stages of adulthood arrive unexpectedly and often by surprise. The biggest indicator of adulthood is when we realize that we’re making choices and living our lives and there is nobody supervising. The feeling of being untethered from supervision might arrive at traditional adult accomplishments such as purchasing a first house or getting married or having a baby or getting a promotion at work. On the other hand, I don’t think any of these things are required of adults.
Adulting is a verbed-noun that is associated with millennials who wish to summarize life accomplishments on twitter or Instagram. The hashtag #adulting is an example of attaching a keyword to a set of behaviours that are associated with aging.
There were parents before there was parenting. There was google before there was googling. There was dialogue before there was dialoging. There were verbs before there was verbing. Verbing is a convenient way of summarizing an idea without using the whole phrase and in the age of Instagram, encapsulating an idea with a verbed-noun such as adulting is a way to represent an accomplishment associated with becoming an adult.
But what is adulting? Is it buying a house? Having a baby? Choosing to spend a lifetime with someone? Wearing a business suit to work? Moving out of your childhood bedroom? Buying a car? Yes…but no. Adulting is taking responsibility for your actions and being proud of your behaviour and choices even though there isn’t anyone supervising. Adulting is taking control of your own circumstances and admitting that nobody is responsible for you but you. Accepting the process of aging is a rite of passage and often we wish for specific examples that “prove” that we’re being good adults. Attaching hashtags to accomplishments such as buying a home, or filing tax returns on time seems like a mark of adulthood but in reality there are no specific suggestions for what it means to be an adult. The real mark of adulting is the ability to intelligently make decisions and overcome challenges. “How will future me feel about the decisions that current me is making?” Adulting is recognizing that decisions made right now have a direct impact on the future.
Nutrition and food choices are a handy way to represent adult decisions. Children desire candy and sugar. Most kids, left to their own devices, will gorge on unhealthy food. Children don’t have any regard for the future and lack comprehension of how current decisions will affect future emotions. The opposite of a child is an adult. Adults have the emotional intelligence to ask themselves if eating a cupcake right now will feel good in the future. Personally, I am in a constant battle with myself about what to eat and what to not eat. I often disassociate the consequences of eating an entire bag of chips on my future wellbeing, health and athletic ability. This disassociation and “who cares, it’s just one day” attitude has detrimental effects on my health and, specific to this summer, my ability to be a lean triathlete.
I have a friend who is highly motivated and possesses a remarkable ability to reinvent his circumstances. Last year he successfully lost over 100 pounds by changing his eating routine. In him, I confided my ongoing battle with compulsive overeating and he very succinctly said to me “ask yourself if whatever you’re eating will help you achieve your goal of finishing an Ironman.” It sounds so simple, but this rubric is truly the mark of being an adult. It’s important to nobody but me if I eat a whole row of oreos before bed. There is no accountability except to myself and to my goals. This is adulting. Making decisions without supervision.
Ironman training indoors today. Strong north wind and dreary rain made me grateful for the small gym with spin bike that my work offers! 7 x 2 min zone 4 intervals today. More on heartrate training to come. Stay tuned.