To Do in 2015: Get Better at Adulting

Written in collaboration with Alissa Birchard Lozano

I always wanted to grow up. 

Because of my desire for early-onset adulthood, I started working at the age of fourteen, bought a car as soon as I could afford one, and left home at seventeen. I wanted more space and fewer boundaries; not so that I could sow wild oats, but so that I could be an adult, boldly shouldering all of the choices, challenges, and responsibilities that adulthood entails.

When I graduated from college, I finally felt the adult life opening up before me like a long-distance highway. I sensed its irresistible pull and couldn't wait to see what lay around each bend.  I would climb mountains, ford rivers, see visions, dream dreams. 

I would be an adult.

I never once suspected that I might be bad at it. 

Adulthood would open new and exciting vistas, all right. New and exciting vistas of screwing things up.

As I sit here now, knee-deep in my thirties, viewing adulthood from the inside out, I can't get past the feeling that everyone else my age is an adult, but that I am just the same as I always was, only now with some grey hair and more of a pear shape. 

Fortunately, I have a friend who's in the same boat, which makes me feel somewhat comforted (although no less inept). Alissa and I are amazed that we actually managed to hold down successful careers while simultaneously being absurdly bad at adulthood.

Below, you will find a list of some of our more brainless moves, all of which took place somewhere between our respective college graduations and this very month, December of 2014. (For me, that's a period of nearly fifteen years; for Alissa, somewhat less.) I've rewritten them all in my style and attached our names to none of the events, leaving you to guess which absurdities belong to which "adult." 

To Do in 2015: Fewer Things Like This

  • I left my garage door open and the inner door to my house unlocked while I was at work all day. My police officer neighbor came into my house (witnessing who knows what devastation), left me a note to remind me to be more responsible, and locked up the house for me.
  • I hate shopping and will put it off as long as possible, to the point that sometimes I run out of toilet paper and have to resort to other alternatives. 
  • I tried to refill my small sugar bowl from the Tupperware of sugar in the pantry and dumped two pounds of sugar all over my kitchen counter and onto the floor. I was running late and had to leave the mess there until later. (This has happened more than once.) 
  • My bedroom has an outside entrance door to the back yard. I recently discovered that I'd left this door unlocked …. for two years.
  • Last year my power got turned off twice because I kept forgetting to pay the bill. It's not that I didn't have any money. I just kept forgetting. 
  • I recently let someone ride in the backseat of my car. She complained that there was nowhere to put her feet because the entire floor was covered in half-full bottles of water.
  • Once I got pulled over for speeding and had to ask the officer to let me get out of my car to retrieve my ID from the trunk. He stood next to me with his hand on his service weapon, just in case, while I dug my license out of the pocket of a pair of pants in a laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes.
  • I accidentally went shopping without money. When I realized my error, I left the cart full of groceries in the aisle.
  • I dropped a bottle of nail polish off the kitchen table. It shattered, and deep red polish went everywhere. I spent twenty minutes trying to clean nail polish out of the grout between the tiles without damaging my own freshly-painted nails. (It went about as well as you're imagining.) 
  • When the GPS directions contradict posted signs, I will follow the GPS every time. This has never turned out well, but I can't seem to stop myself. 
  • I've had to get my car towed because I've run out of gas. 
  • I have been known to leave dishes piled up to the faucet in my sink. For weeks.
  • I tried to make dinner in the crock pot, but I accidentally doubled the spice, and it turned out too spicy to eat. I'd invited a friend over for dinner and had nothing else to serve, so she stood there watching me rinse the meat off with cold water in the sink before serving it. It was still almost inedible. 
  • I never put clothes away. I just have two piles: clean and dirty.
  • I hit a mailbox and shattered the side mirror of a car that I'd borrowed from someone else. The mailbox seemed fine, so I just drove away. 
  • Sometimes while I'm driving somewhere, I forget what I'm doing and drive to a different place entirely. When I arrive, not only do I have no idea what I'm doing there, but I also will sometimes have trouble remembering where I had intended to go in the first place. 
  • While eating out, I sometimes forget whose drink is whose, and I drink out of other people's cups by accident. And by "sometimes," I mean "an embarrassing number of times." The fact that it's a different beverage doesn't seem to phase me. 
  • I leave my credit cards everywhere: in the car, in the pockets of jeans, on top of the dryer, etc. When I can't find them, I fall into a sweaty panic and worry about how long I should wait before I call the bank to cancel them. But they usually turn up. (Often after I've canceled them.)
  • I have worn clothes backwards and inside-out to work. I mean backwards and inside-out at the same time. I've also turned up in mismatched shoes. 
  • I had to call a friend at the very last minute to borrow her car because I'd locked the keys in mine and was about to miss an important meeting. 
  • I've tried to pay for items with my library card more often than I'd care to admit. My library card and my credit card look nothing alike. 
  • The last time I got sick, I slept all night on the bathroom floor with my head on the scale. 

We share this list partly for your amusement, partly as a cautionary tale, and partly to stand in solidarity with all of the other pseudo-adults out there who find themselves stranded in the same (bumbling, inefficiently-operated) boat. 

We're hoping that 2015 will be the year in which those of us who struggle with adulting will finally turn it all around.

Or at least learn to enjoy the ridiculousness of it all, because sometimes that's the best you can do. 

* * * *

Caveat: I have not yet read Kelly Williams Brown's book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

It's on the list.


  1. Funny, Ruth. A few of these I've come close to, mainly because after 6 pregnancies (brain cells get permanently destroyed during pregnancies!) my memory is just about shot. Busy, interesting people don't have time to be totally adult so just enjoy knowing you are anything but boring.

    1. So glad to hear from another member of the Adulting club!


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