by Jessica Grose
Originally published: May 9, 2017
You never hear anyone say it out loud, but the unfortunate gerund “adulting” is everywhere. Peculiar to social media, it’s a term that seems to be wielded most frequently by young women — and the pastel-bedecked brands wooing them — to signify the completion of quotidian grown-up tasks like doing laundry, going to work, exercising and cooking a meal. Every day I don’t eat canned soup is a day I win at adulting; Me: I just bought my first business cards! I feel like a real adult now!; Also Me: They are purple and blue and green and pretty! #adulting; or the meme that nearly broke me: “I’m done adulting. Let’s be mermaids.”
I confess that as my 30s progress, I’m becoming distressingly Andy Rooney-ish (a reference the #adulting crowd might not even get), but my burgeoning crankiness isn’t why I hate the word. And I don’t hate it because it’s an example of a noun becoming a verb, something that one linguist told me “a lot of pedants hate in general.” I hate it because it’s a self-infantilizing rejection of female maturity in a culture that already has almost no love for grown-up women — deploying “adulting” to describe what’s otherwise known as “life” is a sure way for a woman not to be seen as an adult.