Paul Triggs, LMSW
The Oxford Dictionary now has a definition for "adulting":
“The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks."
Adultng includes things like having a full-time job, children and even owning a home. Adulting also includes being able to cook for yourself and doing your own laundry. ”
The thought of doing all these super boring tasks can seem overwhelming to people beginning their adult lives. Leaning into adulthood may seem daunting and intimidating, but being an independent adult can be extraordinarily rewarding.
Healthy adulting is all about transforming the mundane into feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. That's where a therapist who specialises in emerging adulthood and who knows the power of creative play can help. Emerging adulthood therapists understand the importance of play and know how to help young adults integrate that into their now, seemlingly mundane adult life.
What is Emerging Adulthood?
Emerging adulthood is the developmental stage after adolescence when people are learning more about themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing. The age ranges of fall between ages 18 to 29 years old (Muncy, 2006). Commonly people that fall in this age range between 18 and 30 years old find themselves asking the questions such as: What makes an individual an adult? and I am enough of an adult for my age?
Does this apply to me?
The main challenge of emerging adulthood is the feeling of being “stuck” between a desire for independence and a preconceived notion of when to start a family and what a family “should” consist of. Furthermore, most American people who are emerging adults move away from home at age 18 or 19 but do not get married or have children until their late twenties (Arnett, 2004). On the other hand, in 1960 it was common for men to be married by age 22 and women by age 20 (In response, maybe you are not bad at being an adult but you following the current social norms and waiting until the time is right.
The main indicator to know if you struggle with adulting is how well you manage your day to day life and how much satisfaction you get out of managing those things.
How Can A Therapist Help?
Therapists with this focus do a number of things. First they help you discover and clarify your goals, help you look for barriers to taking care of yourself and also making your day to day life more fulfilling and pleasurable.
Therapists help with adulting by using things like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to look at patterns of thinking that keep us stuck in fear and defeat. Once that is mastered therapists help you increase the pleasurable moments in your day by using principles from postiive psychology and hypnotherapy.
It's important to find a therapist who also understand the concept of gamification.
Gamification is essentially the idea of turning different aspects of your life into a game to increase motivation and pleasure.
A competent therapist can then help you take that same idea and develop your own internal rewards for things like laundry, dishes and paying bills.
Here are a few ways I help my clients make an easier, more pleasurable transition into the whole adulting experience:
1. Gamify as much of your life as possible.
Struggling with paying bills, eating healthy and going to the gym? Apps like Habitica are an amazing and fun way to get stuff done.
2. Get inspired around your life goals.
Check out resources like 100things.com.au for inspiration and focus around your life path.
3. Look for free resources
Your city (or the internet) is full of free stuff to help with life goals and extracurricular activities to keep your life exciting. Websites like coursera.com or the New York Public Library offer free courses on a number of different subjects from gardening to bdugeting.
4. Have a trusted adult on speed-dial
Find a mentor or someone you see who has nailed the whole adulting thing. Write down 3-5 questions to ask that person about how they manage their day to day.
5. Manage your meals
Make eating healthy as easy as possible. Whether that be a meal service like Daily Harvest or developing a plan for weekly meal prep, make it a priority to get your nutrition in check.
Muncy, C. (2006). Emerging adults: The in-between age. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun06/emerging.aspx
Arnett, J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from late teens through the twenties. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Arnett, J. J., & Taber, S. (1994). Adolescence terminable and interminable: When does adolescence end? Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 23, 517–537.