Am I Adulting Right? – Part 1

There is this word that became popular a few years back with people in my age group – “adulting.”

The Oxford Dictionary describes it as “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” In other words: “doing crap adults should do, even when it sucks and they hate it. ”You may not use the exact same word, but all of us do at some point (and in our own way of phrasing it) ask ourselves “am I adulting right?”

Adulting is freaking hard sometimes.

I am 25, about to be 26… and I am STILL figuring out how to do some things on my own. Things like taxes or how to get a certain kind of stain out of the carpet. They make me feel just like I did when I was 18 and leaving home. I try to figure it out myself, I Google everything to find the best way to do it. I try to do my best, yet I still feel a nervous sweat dripping down my temples. And I know for a fact that I am not the only young person that has felt that way.

In college, I lived in the dorms with a few other girls that were in the same boat as me – there were some things we were feeling kinda lost about now that we were adults. Somehow some info was not passed on to us. Whether it was because high school didn’t teach us, our parents didn’t teach us, or it was assumed that we already knew… we were having to figure it out blindly on our own. Luckily, we could share what each of us DID know with each other to fill in some of those gaps.

I thought I would pass along some of what we learned together. For this blog I wanted to share what I now know for those feeling lost in the big adult world. You know, now that I am starting to get this whole adulting-thing a little bit better.

An Adulting Cheat Sheet for New Adults

Here is a little list of things that I learned from messing up, as well as from watching others mess up, on my journey to becoming independent. Try not to judge if you come across a tip in this list and think “how could someone NOT know this?!” You might be surprised by how easily it is for a parent or teacher to assume a young person knows this, and for it to never be taught to them!

#1 – Some things just aren’t meant to be cooked in the microwave

In case you didn’t know this, putting anything metal can REALLY damage your microwave. Things like utensils, a metal container, a cup with a metal ring around the rim, or aluminum foil. I once had a roommate that was microwaving leftover spaghetti… with the fork still in the bowl. I run in to the room to see sparks flying inside the microwave as well as an awful stink like burnt metal. We were lucky that she didn’t permanently damage our microwave. If that were to happen to you when you are young and broke… well, that’s one expense you don’t want to spend.

On that same note, please don’t try to cook raw meat from start to finish in the microwave. Another roommate attempted to cook an entire chicken breast in the microwave and got awful food poisoning. Yes, you can use the defrost function when you forgot to set out the chicken breast to thaw that morning. But you should NOT attempt to cook the chicken breast all the way through using the microwave. Even if you don’t get food poisoning, the meat will probably be super chewy and nasty tasting. So just use the oven or stove so that the inside doesn’t remain uncooked and so any possible bacteria will be killed off by the higher temperatures.

#2 – Keep trying to get better at cooking

It’s super easy to fall into the habit of buying premade food when you move out on your own. Fast food, microwave mac and cheese and instant noodles are much more convenient when you have work to get done. But doing this every night gets not only boring but also unhealthy. Take time to practice cooking new recipes and learning how to enjoy new foods. It’s one of those things that pays off more in the long run, but trust me – it helps.

#3 – Give your body the good stuff it needs to be healthy

It’s easy to not pay attention to our health needs when we are busy making a life for ourselves. But your body won’t care about your upcoming deadlines if it isn’t getting what it needs! Make sure you are eating nutritional foods, getting enough sleep, taking your medications, and getting some exercise when you can! Little things like flossing your teeth and stretching your muscles don’t seem like they do much right now, but they will prevent potential issues down the road. Think of it this way: if your body gives out because of inadequate nutrition and lack of rest, you won’t be able to get things done!

#4 – What NOT to put in the garbage disposal

After my now-husband and I had moved in together, my family came to stay with us for Thanksgiving. Mom was so excited to cook for us and I was excited to have her good cooking. As we helped tidy up the kitchen in-between cooking the foods, we realized the garbage disposal wasn’t working anymore.

As it turns out, Mom had been dumping the potato peels down the garbage disposal and they had completely jammed up the blades! I was shocked that she didn’t know not to do this, and she was also upset that she didn’t know before that instance. But it made sense that she wouldn’t know since we didn’t use ours that frequently back home. We got it working again by the end of the day, but it could have been an expensive fix if we hadn’t.

Also, you should never put in things like coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta or rice, bread, nuts or shells, or onion layers. They might seem easily breakable and harmless to those strong blades, but they can actually badly mess up your disposal. And again, when you are young and broke, the cost of hiring a plumber to fix it isn’t super great.

Oh, and NEVER EVER reach into the garbage disposal drain unless the power to it is unplugged. Ouch!!!!

#5 – Don’t mix household cleaners!

I’ll fess up and say that I am the one that made this mistake when living in the dorms.

My go-to cleaning product has always been more natural solutions – like baking soda or vinegar. But when I moved into the dorms, I soon realized that young adults are DISGUSTING! With four girls living under one roof, the kitchen and bathroom got extremely disgusting, super quick. I didn’t feel like my “hippie-cleaning” would tackle this new insane level of grossness.

So, I went to the store and bought every cleaning product I could get my hands on. Because I hadn’t been one to use heavy chemicals for cleaning before, I almost caused a really bad emergency situation.

One day, I was using bleach and Windex to clean the shower when I started to have a hard time breathing. At first I thought that maybe I had just been breathing around the cleaners for too long and just opened the windows and turned on the fans. But apparently, mixing some household cleaners can create toxic chemicals that can hurt you, and possibly even send you to the hospital. We were lucky I didn’t get too far into cleaning before I started to feel like something was up and Googled about it. After airing out our apartment and turning on the shower to rinse out the chemicals, we were fine. But it could have been a VERY dangerous situation.

Here are a few chemicals that should NEVER be combined with bleach:

  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Rubbing alcohol

To be on the safe side, don’t mix chemicals unless you have researched the potential risks. Taking a little bit of extra time to understand what you are using is better than potentially poisoning yourself!

Want more adulting tips?

I have even more adulting advice to share, but I am stopping for now so you aren’t reading an entire essay. We will be publishing this blog in two parts, so check back next week for the last five tips! And to end this super long blog, I thought I’d share a fun song to sing along to when you are adulting.

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