Five Pieces of Advice for Graduates: To ‘Adult’ or Not to ‘Adult’

Five Pieces of Advice for Graduates: To ‘Adult’ or Not to ‘Adult’

Five Pieces of Advice for Graduates: To ‘Adult’ or Not to ‘Adult’

As graduation time comes, many graduates will be making major decisions about their future. They must decide how to pursue their careers with the diplomas they have. They must transition from the more carefree student life to that of one in the workforce. Finally, paraphrasing Shakespeare, they must decide whether to adult or not to adult. That is a fundamental question.

“To adult” is a new verb that is circulating these days. It sounds strange because “adult” is a noun, not a verb. Moreover, “adult” usually defines a state of being not one of becoming. But in today’s fluid postmodern world, there is no noun that cannot be verbed. No one can be surprised if one can now “adult.”

Thus, “to adult” means to do something grown-up or hold responsibilities common to those of elders. A young man “adults” well when he appears on time for work or is well groomed. The word does not necessarily mean that he has abandoned his childish ways but only that he did something adult-like at one point in time.

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For this reason, so many young people adult today. They do not grow up but rather live in a state of eternal adolescence. Adulting facilitates this world by allowing these young people to act like adolescents most of the time while pretending to be adults part of the time.

And so to answer the question of to adult or not to adult, here are five pieces of advice for graduates that may prove helpful.

  • Don’t adult. If you understand the term to mean simply doing adult things without abandoning childish things, then it is better not to adult. The temptation of adopting a murky middle ground between adolescence and adulthood merely prolongs the first and ruins the second.
  • Don’t adult. Leave your childhood behind. Be only an adult. Put away the things of a child or teenager. Understand that milestones like graduations, whether high school or college, are rites of passage from which there is no return. There are certain things that adults do not do. They do not play child (or video) games. They do not treat life as a big party. They should not spend countless hours on social media. They should get rid of their toys.
  • Don’t adult. Assume the great responsibilities of your adult life. Understand that the decisions of where you live, what you eat and how your family survives now belong entirely to you, and to no one else. You have only to gain by accepting your duties. Being childish about your obligations will lead to a miserable life of resentment, entitlement and blaming others.

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  • Don’t adult. Ponder in your mind what it means to be an adult. Know what you want to be. Spend some time plotting out your future. Take some time out now to ponder alone and in silence those essential life questions about your purpose in life. Pray and listen to the voice of God who calls everyone to know, love and serve Him. Being an adult means establishing a relationship with God to aid you in the challenges of the path that you need to choose now.
  • Don’t adult. Prepare yourself for the misfortunes and sufferings that are part of being an adult. When you were a child, you were shielded from many of these misfortunes. That shield is no longer there, and you deceive yourself if you think the contrary. Everyone must face tragedy and suffering. Now the time has come for you to embrace your crosses along the road of life. When faced with Christian resignation, these hardships even become a source of satisfaction and accomplishment.

These are five counsels for this year’s graduates that reflect the common sense of living in the real world.

However, today’s postmodern world has a contrary set of counsels. People are told instead to avoid definition and embrace contradiction. One should not develop a stable character but rather self-identify to whatever fantasy one happens to create. Life is all about freedom to do whatever one wants even when this “freedom” often has consequences that enslave (as in the case of substance abuse).

The tragic result of this worldview is an immense throng of young people who cannot find their way as adults. They live at home and depend on parents for housing, living expenses or spending money. In fact, adults between 18 to 34 are now slightly more likely to be living with parents than a spouse (or other) in their own household. Nearly sixty percent of parents provide some financial support to their adult children.

That is why many such children prefer to adult. That is, to make forays into the adult world without living in it. They prefer to live a life oriented toward fun and infantile pleasure and detached from meaning and purpose.

The best time to prevent these adulting forays is well before graduation. Parents need to understand that childhood is a preparation for adulthood, not a permanent state. Being an adult is the final goal of development not a mere option among many. Parents must instill in their children a strong sense of purpose in life—and a great concern for their eternal destiny in the afterlife. Only then will they be able to develop good habits and strong character to confront the difficulties of later life. In this way the transition to adulthood is not abrupt but seamless. One adapts. One matures. One does not adult.

Until saner times prevail, however, many will condemn themselves to adult in a world that is ever more childish.


As seen on CNSNews

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  • Veronica Goyette

    Ah, see I was agreeing until the video games part… I, myself, play video games avidly (Skyrim, Guns of Icarus, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Etrian Odyssey, etc.) and have to say that’s not a fair thing to toss into the pot of blame (also I’m very tired of everyone blaming the young. Yes, we have crazy people, but so did your generation and just look where we are now). Video games are bursting with imagination and creativity, and many of them have great characters who experienced hardship and overcame. Many are truly inspiring, such as Marth, who’s entire country was betrayed, and his older sister was captured and presumably killed. He was filled with sorrow and yet in the face of great danger he did the honorable thing and decided to protect a country that housed him while he was deposed, and from there, began a campaign to reclaim his throne. He made many friends along the way, and showed compassion for other characters who showed willingness to reform (such as Julian, Navarre, Rodger and other characters). Marth is from Fire Emblem, and that game has always had great characters and wonderful stories and I think preventing someone from playing games like that (games which tell great stories and have really human characters) is truly wrong. That would be about the same as preventing someone from reading a good book purely because there are some bad books out there.

    Another thing I really wanted to mention is people living at home. Yes, there are terribly immature people out there who live off their parents and don’t do anything to try to live on their own… But then there are people that I personally know who are literally trapped at home, or were kicked out by one parent and are living with another, and people who are just opting to go to trade school to avoid drama. I know people who are working jobs while putting themselves through collage which, due to high costs of living is basically impossible now without procuring massive debits. I have family members who were forced to wait a year because a collage was going to force them to take classes they didn’t need for over a year before accepting them into the right course. A lot of times living at home is due to circumstances outside the young person’s control.

    I DO agree with the point about young children hanging out with their grandparents and such, I grew up with mine, and they were a huge influence on my life. I think its important for youngsters to understand the nature of life and receive wisdom from other people and not just their immediate family. I also don’t believe in ‘sheltering’ kids from the truth, or from the fact that there will be people who have different beliefs and values than them. The sooner children learn and accept that the better. I also agree that responsibility is very important and some members of my generation could learn a thing or two about it! 🙂

    Interesting read and I agree with some of your points… But not all. That’s okay though, its good food for thought.

  • Timoteo S Honesto

    Mr. Horvatt, is there a PDF file of this article available (not for reprint but for personal resource)?

  • Scipio Africanus

    This was wonderful. Thank you, Mr. Horvat! Excellent, and worth sharing widely.

  • terrence morris

    This article is unduly harsh. I know many good kids who are trying to make it with college debt and uncertainty about what is important. It is wrong to lump all kids together and blame them for not being “adults”. They, more than we, perhaps see the futility of the work- until- you- drop- mentality. And in the absence of good role models ( since many kids are from broken homes) how can you expect them to be other than what they are. Yes, they need to become adults but who will teach them? Maybe when we point the finger at someone we should be pointing it at ourselves. This blaming business has got to stop if we are to make any progress at all towards solutions.

    • scragsma

      He didn’t ‘lump all kids together’ and he wasn’t addressing blame. He merely pointed out an observed phenomenon that is growing and has reached the stage of being culturally dangerous.

      There are plenty of good role models out there – but as the article said, it’s up to each individual to grow up and take responsibility for him/her self. There’s a level of maturity at which self-teaching must take over, and too many kids today are refusing to take that step. Your comment reflects exactly the phenomenon the article is describing.

  • Dale McNamee

    Excellent article !
    I’m reminded of 1Corinthians 13:11, where Paul relegates to childhood “childish thoughts & childish reasoning”…

  • Mary Brokaw

    Well done!