How to Stop Sucking at Being an Adult

When we’re kids, life is pretty fun. Our days are filled with games, sports and activities, and everything from cooking to laundry to cleaning is done for us. We figure that the fun will continue when we’re adults because we can do what we want – eat ice cream for dinner, never clean our rooms… Then we turn 18, graduate from high school, and suddenly life is completely different. We’re considered adults and are expected to start acting our age, but many of us struggle through our early, mid and even late 20s, wondering why being a so-called grown-up isn’t as amazing as we once thought it would be. But a time comes when you have to, well, grow up. Check out this how-to guide on how to stop sucking at life as an adult.

1. Learn to Cook and Actually Do It

You know that you have to feed yourself. You’re living on your own, so it’s up to you to make sure you don’t go hungry and, even if you have roommates (or are living with a spouse/partner), you can’t assume they’re going to cook for you. Many of us have mastered the basics such as knowing how to fry an egg, cook a chicken breast, and boil some pasta to combine with a store-bought tomato sauce, but we still reach for the take-out menus and opt to have our dinners in restaurants instead.

How many dinners were made in the kitchen instead of eaten in a restaurant or consisting of take-out in the United States in 2014? The answer is not so surprising: fewer than 60 percent according to The Washington Post. So it’s no wonder that you’re part of the trend of people not being interested in cooking.

When you’re young, you’re definitely not all that interested in cooking and you don’t have the incentive of needing to cook for your children. But cooking is really the only way to live as a real adult. You will be able to control the ingredients in your food and will ensure that you’re consuming healthy meals. You can only survive on greasy pizza and McDonald’s for so long, after all.

Start small and prepare only one element of the meal, relying on your local market for the remainder of ingredients. It’s a good way to ease into cooking. For example, bread a piece of chicken with an egg, whole-wheat bread crumbs and parsley, and while that’s cooking you can toss a pre-washed package of salad greens with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add some cherry tomatoes and an avocado for some color and flavor, and you’ve got a healthy meal that screams adulthood. All that piece of pizza says is that you’re too lazy to cook for yourself.

2. Take Your Career Seriously

Many of us don’t get our dream jobs right out of college or university, and some of us still aren’t in the right position or even in the right industry when we’re approaching 30. Don’t let this be you. Of course, you need to work and so having a less than ideal first job is completely inevitable. But being an adult means taking your job and your overall career goals seriously. You want to make sure that you are making enough money to support yourself and to ensure that you don’t have to worry.

Think about how you view someone who is happy, healthy and has their dream career. It could be a celebrity or someone close to home. But they all have one thing in common: they seem like an adult. They make their own money, enjoy what they do, and have it all together. This could (and should) be you. You’re not living up to your potential if you keep your crappy job that pays nothing because you’re too lazy to find something else.

3. If You’re Unhappy, Embrace Change

Being an adult doesn’t mean crying into your pillow every single night because you hate your job and your life (although we all have those moments, of course). It’s all about being old and wise enough to realize that if you don’t like something, you have the power to do something about it.

When you’re in high school, you think you have your whole life ahead of you, and that’s because you do. As the years pass and you’re officially in your 20s and early 30s, you realize that this is it. You’re living your life and if you’re not happy, that’s on you. Make sure that every element of your lifestyle is in tune with your beliefs and what you want for yourself. Instead of complaining to your mom every night on the phone, quit your job and find a better one. Instead of living with messy roommates who throw parties every single night, take on some freelance work and make enough extra money so you can find a more appropriate living situation. You have the power to get what you want out of your life. You’re not a kid anymore.

4. Think About the Future

If there’s one thing that defines adulthood, it’s that you have to be smart when it comes to planning for the future. You have to save money for retirement, for one thing. Stop making silly decisions when it comes to your finances like blowing a paycheck on a shopping spree at your favorite boutique or buying your best friend an extravagant birthday gift because the mood strikes you. Get your finances in order by reading a few how-to books, talking to your parents or an older person whom you trust who can give you some useful advice, or hiring a financial advisor.

Your monetary future isn’t the only one you should be considering. If you’re single and you want to meet someone, get married and start a family, the clock is ticking, so start the process now. Ask around and see if your friends or relatives can introduce you to anyone and/or set up an online dating profile. Being an adult means realizing that the time is now to do something that will end up defining your life in the coming years.

5. Be Less Selfish

This is perhaps the biggest thing that separates those who behave like grown-ups and those who are still stuck in their adolescent years. You have to be responsible for yourself and for others around you, and that means checking your selfish nature at the door. If you go out with your friends to celebrate a promotion or a birthday and your friend gets too drunk to drive home, don’t laugh it off or think it’s not a big deal – it’s a very big deal and you need to call them a cab and make sure they get home safely. If your mom is sick, make her (or buy her) some soup and bring dinner over. Being an adult means realizing you have to stop being so selfish and start taking care of others.

If you’re tired of feeling more like the child you used to be and less like the adult you’re supposed to be (at least according to the number of candles on your birthday cake), follow this how-to guide and start acting your age right now. Adulthood may be filled with less than fun things like paying taxes, cleaning your apartment or house and attending conferences for your job, but it comes with its perks too, like having the financial freedom to travel, buy a condo or house, or take any classes that you want to further your education or just for interest’s sake. Embrace adulthood, and the responsibilities won’t seem so bad.