If you're currently going through the process of "adulting," you probably have a mental checklist of things you'll have to do eventually — like opening a savings account, or finally using your kitchen. And yet you've gotten pretty comfy putting it all off another day (or year). While I totally understand the hesitation, I also think it's incredibly important to stop procrastinating and actually accomplish some of these adulting milestones you've been putting off.
Because let's be real, the last thing you want to do is delay the inevitable. By slowing down or putting things off, you're not only stressing yourself out, but you're essentially causing yourself to fall behind the curve when it comes to standing on your own two feet.
Yes, these chores and life changes kind of suck to think about. But I think what sucks more is holding yourself back from total and complete independence. That's why you should keep in mind "adulting" doesn't necessarily have to feel bad or scary or overwhelming. It can actually feel really good. Once these milestones are checked off your list, you'll be giving yourself access to an entirely new (totally grownup and amazing) lifestyle.
As NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW says, "Adulting is necessary for one's independence, freedom and self-sufficiency." It means paying your own bills, handling your own problems, and figuring yourself out along the way. If that sounds completely worthwhile (and I assure you, it is), then read on for some great places to start.
1. Finally Opening That Savings Account
The moment you have some extra money, go ahead and open a savings account. And while you're at it, ask the bank representative to give you some more info on how to manage your money. "Financial independence is one of the first steps to adulting," says Hershenson. "Being able to pay your bills without help from others is a step in the right direction." As is keeping your credit score within a good range, and maybe even starting a retirement fund.
2. Actually Being More Assertive
Assertiveness is necessary in pretty much every aspect of life, so the sooner you can learn how to put your foot down, the better. "Assertiveness is the act of self-care," licensed professional counselor Sara Anderson tells Bustle. "To really take care of oneself, it is imperative that women know their limits and know how to communicate these limits clearly to others." This means not taking on more than you can handle, and knowing when to call it quits.
3. Learning How To Say The Word "No"
In the same vein, you should definitely know how to confidently say the word no. "'No' is the ultimate self-preserving skill all women should learn," Anderson says. It can get you out of sticky situations, keep you safe, earn you some respect, and help with that aforementioned assertiveness. Here's how to do it.
4. Officially Setting Goals For The Future
Sitting down to create a five year plan is about as adult-y as it gets, and can even help shape you as a person. "Establishing personal, professional, and lifestyle goals help to clarify the type of relationships, career-paths, and self-care that a woman may invite and allow into her life," Anderson says. "Having goals, evaluating these regularly, and making sure to honor the path toward the goals helps young women establish their own life on their own terms — and this leads to happiness."
5. Learning How To Interview For A Job
After you got on a few job interviews, you might realize it's as much about interviewing your potential boss as it is about them interviewing you. "Because so much of our time is spent working, it is really important to be sure that the work environment one chooses is a good fit," Anderson says. "Many young women are not taught how to ask the questions needed to ensure that they are going to be satisfied with the work environment, including the relationships within the work place." So go ahead and ask questions, and make sure it's what you want, too.
6. Feeling Comfortable Negotiating Your Salary
If you're in the salaried biz, you should know how to negotiate your wages and benefits. "Because women are still way too often paid less than their male counterparts, knowing how to communicate their worth and their potential contribution is important," Anderson explains. "This is not just about monetary gains; this is about recognizing one’s worth and never accepting less-than." That's why you need to also about about healthcare plans, vacation days, and the possibility of promotion.
7. Figuring Out Car And House Repairs
Every grown ass lady should know the basics of home and car repair, not only so you can do them yourself whenever possible, but also so you don't get taken for a proverbial ride. "Having an ability to understand car maintenance, household maintenance, and even knowing how to fix household items and their car protects women from manipulation [and] deceit," Anderson says.
8. Being OK With Living Alone
If possible, you should definitely take a whack at living alone. "Living alone allows you to learn more about yourself and your needs," Hershenson says. It'll teach you how to fend for yourself, while also learning how to cope with any potential loneliness. That way, no matter what happens in the future, you'll always know you can take care of yourself.
9. Cooking Your Signature Meal
Nothing's as grown up as throwing together the perfect meal, especially if it includes multiple (fresh! real!) ingredients. A signature meal can be incredibly impressive to family members, partners, and roommates, and it's a great way to save money. Plus, Hershenon tells me cooking for yourself is healthier than restaurant food, and can even be a form of stress relief.
10. Taking Your Parents Out To Dinner
Once you can afford to spend a little extra cash, it's important to treat the people in your life. One way to do this? By taking your parents out to dinner. "Now that you are an adult, it's time to repay the favor," says mental health therapist Tara Dixon, PLPC. "Paying for their meal ... is a growth experience for both the young adult and the parents."
11. Buying Some Real Furniture
While not everyone's in a position to buy furniture, you should definitely consider doing so if you can. And by real, I mean stuff for your apartment that will last for years to come. "Start small. Maybe a side table or even a set of coasters," Dixon says. "This small task gives young adults a chance to envision their future and budget money for quality items."
12. Learning How To Take Care Of Your Emotional Health
It's not necessary to handle all stressful situations all by your lonesome, but it sure is handy to know how. "Growing in emotional health and maturity often includes recognizing emotional triggers and then choosing how you want to move forward," mental health therapist Alexandra Hoerr, LCPC tells Bustle. "Feelings can be overwhelming in and of themselves. Loneliness bites. Anger burns. The emotions that don't feel good can be difficult to experience. Add responsibility for them over the overwhelm and you get a prime task of adulting."
13. Always Making The Time For "Self-Care"
You might feel that, in order to be a true adult, you have to go go go 24/7. But you totally don't. In fact, slowing down, relaxing, and taking time for self-care is way more important than accomplishing everything on your to-do list. "You can't do it all. You have to recharge," Hoerr says. "At its foundation, self-care is being a mindful student of yourself in a moment of need, and then taking action towards vitality emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually."
Because when it comes to adulting, it's all about learning how to take care of yourself now, while also looking towards the future.
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