The title of this post is sort of a misnomer: I can’t actually tell you how to be a grown-up. In fact, I bet there are few people that consider themselves “grown-ups” that could come up with a comprehensive “How To” guide.
But there are things I have learned in my 29 years that make me feel like I’m moving in the right direction:
- Be kind. The original source of a popular quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” is widely disputed, but the message is an important one. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own problems – perhaps a bad breakup, a layoff, failing an important test, or a multitude of other things that can go wrong in life – but hard to remember that others may be facing a difficult time. The important thing is not to compare suffering, but to try to be empathetic towards everyone’s struggles. Being kind to others doesn’t cost anything. (Also: don’t forget to be kind to yourself!)
- Do you. Do you have an unusual talent? Play an obscure instrument? Do you have a hobby others might consider lame? That’s totally fine. We aren’t meant to be replicas of one another. We’re complex beings shaped by our environments and unique biologies. As long as what you like isn’t hurting anyone else, just enjoy it. Life is too short to worry about what others think of your interests. I like cross-stitching: it’s calming, keeps my hands busy, and I love seeing finished pieces. I’ve learned over time that I’m not the only one – there are tons of people out there that enjoy it too. Make it a point live your life the way you want – not the way someone else wants you to.
- Never stop learning. I’m a naturally inquisitive person; I love learning. My problem, though, has been that I don’t necessarily like learning in a classroom environment. I like learning on my own terms. If you have an interest in how a car runs, how your favorite electronic device is made, or how fantasy football works, learn it! Being interested in how the world around me works and then finding out answers to questions I have is really enriching – not to mention easy, since oftentimes all you need is Google!
- Start saving – now. I’ve been working half of my life now (that blows my mind)! I started working as a junior camp counselor when I was 14 years old and haven’t looked back. I’ve learned invaluable lessons and met people from all walks of life. But would you believe that I didn’t start saving money for retirement until I was 28 years old? Throughout the years, the majority of my income went towards food, clothing, entertainment, and rent. It wasn’t until after I graduated, moved, and got a new job that I was able to begin putting money away. If you don’t have a lot saved up, it’s not too late. Your future self will thank you the earlier you start.
- Do some traveling. Okay, so this one sort of goes against everything I just said about saving money. But if you have any interest at all in seeing other parts of the world, try to set aside a little bit each month towards travel. You don’t have to spend a lot or go very far. Seeing other parts of the world gives you the opportunity to be a more engaged, global citizen.
The fact that you would even be interested in learning how to be a so-called grown-up means you are likely already well on your way. Seeking any sort of insight means you are looking for ways to invest in yourself and your growth. I’ve provided a short list of things I try to consider each day, but it isn’t in any way comprehensive.
I hope you liked this post! Feel free to share some of your own tips. (As I mentioned, a person should never stop learning – myself included! I’d love to get feedback.)