A few nights ago, I was flossing before bed when I had a strong feeling of deja vu. Slowly, I realized that I'd flossed before bed the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that. I had also regularly made my bed when I woke up every morning, cooked nutritious meals for myself because I was on a "budget," called my Internet company to work out a billing dispute and had even recently (and voluntarily) reorganized my entire closet.
In other words, I caught myself adulting.
Adulting isn't something you just learn how to do when you turn 21 or that only happens when you get married and retreat to the suburbs. It's a much more gradual process, and one that occurs regardless of whether or not our lives include the classic trappings of adulthood — mortgages, car payments, spouses, babies. Even thought many of us are still in the "emerging adulthood" phase, we're slowly learning the skills that grown-ups need to have to navigate the world. That learning curve can be invigorating but also a little scary.
"You start to feel the payoff of doing little things more and more," Kelly Williams Brown, author of Adulting: How To Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, told Mic. "You realize that if you set a crockpot in the morning with some meat and literally anything in it, then you don't have to come home and wonder what you're eating. If you buy toilet paper in bulk, you don't have to use tissues and fast food napkins when you run out."
Some of us haven't gotten quite that far yet, but we're figuring it out. Mic spoke with several 20-somethings about the times they've caught themselves accidentally adulting, whether that means setting up a 401k (because yeah, it does make sense) or going grocery shopping on a Friday night (or even going grocery shopping at all). Here's what they had to say.
We've started keeping clean.
"I clean the grout in my tub — Magic Erasers, y'all. They are the shit. And clean grout is just so rewarding. In that same vein, vacuuming: Now I do it once a month instead of once a year. And the floor gets so shiny and the rug gets so soft." — Emily, 23
"Dusting. WTF is that. I do it all the time now. Also cleaning the baseboards about two times per year." — Dash, 28
"Sometimes when I order pizza, I put it on a plate instead of eating it off a piece of paper towel so I don't have to do dishes." — Arianna*, 25
We're drinking less (or, if not less, we're drinking in a more classy, adult fashion).
"I no longer transfer my vodka to an old plastic water bottle before I go out." — Arianna, 25
"[I've started] drinking wine and getting dinner [and] drinks with a friend instead of just lying around together. Um, [also, I'm] using the phrase 'getting drinks.'" — Anna, 24
We're taking charge of our finances.
"I have started investing money. I have two retirement funds, an index fund and two 529 plans for my nieces, even though I am fundamentally, ideologically opposed to things like the 'stock market' and 'inheritance.'" — Natasha*, 25
"I'm saving money in my savings account, 401k and Roth IRA. [I'm also] scheduling doctor appointments (eye exam, dental exam, physical, OBGYN checkup) in different months to make copays easier on cash flow." — Camille*, 23
"I'm always wondering what things I can make from scratch to save money, always remembering to pay my rent and bills on time [and] nagging my friends about how they should save for retirement." — Dana, 24
"The first nice (err, nicer) house that I lived in instead of an apartment was the pivotal point in my 'adulting.' I think I had more of a sense of pride about where I was living and more ownership over things that I had to buy with my own money." — Coppa, 24
We're eating better.
"I no longer eat veggie burgers and Annie's mac and cheese for a majority of weeknight meals." — Emily, 23
"I'm cooking on Sunday night, so I have work lunches for the whole week, and putting spinach in my smoothies, having daily goals for vegetable consumption [and] wondering what things I can make from scratch to save money." — Dana, 24
"I'm taking an array of vitamins every day and even getting my dog on a vitamin and teeth-brushing regimen." — Coppa, 24
Laundry is a huge deal.
"I do laundry many days before I run out of underwear (!!) because I want clean clothes and it's laundry day." — Katherine*, 23
"I'm dry-cleaning my clothes regularly." — Camille, 23
So is health and oral hygiene.
"I floss [and] have a toothbrush in my purse because I consume black coffee (mainly black because I'm aware of my sugar intake)." — Lucy*, 25
"I'm flossing daily (admittedly even buying an electric water flosser)." — Coppa, 24
"I'm agreeing to get allergy shots; the allergist has been trying to force them on me for years. Whenever I see a sad 8-year-old in the office getting the shots too it kills my adult high, but still, I had to force myself to drive there rather than to the coffee shop, bar, my bed, anywhere else." — Emily, 23
We're literally becoming our mothers.
"My glasses are on a string around my neck (!!!!)." — Lucy, 25
"Last night, I tried on my mom's Spanx." — Natasha, 25
*Some names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters.