How to become a grownup in 10 steps
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Growing Pains1 of 11
By Paige Brettingen
Kelly Williams Brown believes "adult" isn't just a noun, it's also a verb: the process of becoming an adult—which can take a long, long time. In her new book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, the 28-year-old writer shares her own "adulting" revelations along with advice from experts. Ready to grow up? Here are the ten critical steps to get you started.
Prove It2 of 11
Accept that you're not a "special snowflake." That's not to say you don't have special qualities. Your parents, friends and teachers all know how special you are to them. But as a grown-up, you have to prove this to the rest of the world. "It's a problem that confronts a lot of people in their early 20s," Brown says. "But you can't expect applause for showing up to work every day."
Rubber Made3 of 11
Develop Teflon qualities. Because you're a grown-up, you have the power to decide how people will affect you, writes Brown. Some will have a big impact; others shouldn't faze you for longer than five minutes. For the latter (and especially when dealing with people in foul moods), don't let it stick. Envision smoothly sweeping away their crusty attitude and then move on with your day. Don't let those situations be "the emotional equivalent of soaking in dish soap overnight," says Brown.
Invite Only4 of 11
Never RSVP "Maybe." That reply could be interpreted three different ways, says Brown: 1. You'll be there unless something better comes up; 2. The invitation isn't important enough to decide right then; 3. You're flaky and can't commit. Neither of these possibilities is very grown-up. If you truly aren't sure whether or not you can attend an event, simply tell the host you need to check your schedule. "Then get back to them within 24 hours," says Brown.
Take Note5 of 11
Remember to send thank-you notes. Yeah, yeah. We know you've heard this before, but Brown swears by its adultness, plus she has some tips on how to write the perfect thank-you, starting with using "you" as the first word. "Everyone loves reading about themselves more than anyone else, and this sends a loud and clear signal that they'll be doing just that," says Brown. For example: "You were such a terrific hostess," or "You were so thoughtful to take me to lunch."
Come Clean6 of 11
Figure out how to clean up after yourself. Brown knew cleaning was her nemesis, so she called in backup: a professional housekeeper who walked her through how to clean. The best tip Brown learned: "Dissolving Dawn dish soap in hot water will clean practically everything," she says. Even so, Brown acknowledges housework remains her most daunting adulting task. "I've gotten moderately better, but I'm still not great at it," she says.
Shop Girl7 of 11
Think of shopping like drinking. They're both oh-so-fun in the moment. But when inhibitions are abandoned, they become giant mistakes by morning that only become more painful with age. Brown suggests developing an anti-shopping mantra to quell any impulsive splurges through the mall, Target or her personal weakness, IKEA. "For four hours, my inner monologue sounds like this: 'You don't need that. You don't need that. You don't need that, either.' And so on," she shares.
Splitsville8 of 11
Dump someone with grace. As Brown notes, there are ways to end a relationship that seem considerate but end up doing more damage than necessary. Don't break up with someone using phrases that offer any hope of getting back together. Those include: "I just need some space," "I just don't want to be in a relationship right now," or "I just want to be friends." Instead, the grown-up way to break up with someone goes something like this, says Brown: "Listen. I know this is really, really hard. But I want to break up."
Faking It9 of 11
Act like you've been there. Brown says this piece of advice comes from a good family friend who has always been "the most gracious, polite person without it seeming forced in any way." She notes that the "Act Like You've Been There" mantra works for any situation where you're meeting new people. Another tip? Remember Brown's "Iceberg" metaphor: The outside world only sees your outer layer.
Better With Age10 of 11
Have a few older friends. Brown credits friends she had from her first job as a major inspiration for this book. Being five to nine years older, they were crucial in helping her discover what she didn't know at the time—like not to wear cocktail dresses to work or how to cook a chicken breast, she says. Seek out those with extra grown-up experience and learn from them. Eventually, you'll be sharing "adulting" wisdom with your own protégés. "It's the circle of basic competence," says Brown.
Work It11 of 11
Keep your head down and cook. This piece of advice is taken from Brown's former boyfriend, a chef who had his own restaurant. The employees he appreciated most were the ones who could "keep their heads down and cook." Brown argues that this approach applies to any grown-up job. In other words: Show up on time, diligently complete the work you're paid to do, don't complain, and participate.
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