Jennifer Dziura writes life coaching advice weekly here on TheGloss, and career coaching advice Fridays on TheGrindstone.
I have been informed that Jennifer Wright is giving up caffeine as a way to become more adult.
I don’t understand this, and fortunately I don’t work in the offices, so she can’t punch me (not that she’ll have the energy to, considering the lack of caffeine). Subsisting on only black coffee, croissants, and cigarettes seems very adult to me, if obviously unhealthy (see the Jean-Paul Sartre cookbook), because “healthy” is really not the same as “adult.”
In Bullish: Gentlewomen Don’t Crash Diet, I commented on people who put way too much emphasis on fitness for my taste. (Favorite hobby: Working out! Favorite book: PUMP IT UP YOU GO GIRL! Favorite song: WORK IT GIRL!). I think a constantly-peppy, exercise-based approach to life is … well, maybe just one of the totally normal ways that regular people live, but not a special claim to adulthood. Eating all the right foods on a special schedule also reminds me a little too much of toddlerhood. Worrying about that is the sort of job we assign to First Ladies, not Presidents. (No offense, Michelle. I’ll bet Michelle Obama gets even more awesome someone around 2016 when she can do whatever she wants.)
You know what I think is really fucking adult? Christopher Hitchens, dying of throat cancer, commenting that he doesn’t regret all the drinking and smoking that probably gave him cancer, because without the drinking and smoking, he wouldn’t have had the same life that allowed him to write all those books:
“All the time, I’ve felt that life is a wager and that I probably was getting more out of leading a bohemian existence as a writer than I would have if I didn’t,” he said in an interview that aired Friday. “Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me. So I was knowingly taking a risk. I wouldn’t recommend it to others.”
And now he’s dead but we have the books. A life that causes people to thank you after you’re dead is probably a good indication that you lived in an adult manner.
When our undercaffeinated Editor-in-Chief informed the staff that TheGloss would be observing “Big Girl Badge Week,” Jamie Peck commented that many definitions of adulthood are “ridiculously classist.” (You might enjoy Bullish: The Things I Was Trying to Say to the Women of Dartmouth Before I Passed Out, in which I talk quite a bit about class). So, thanks to Jamie for making me think about that.
I certainly don’t think that adulthood exclusively means getting married and buying a house and having kids and a 401K. But as someone who met her fiancé via an OKCupid ad that specified, “Please be content with the fact that your youth is over,” I’m not at all willing to throw out the idea of adulthood entirely.
So, I’ve come up with some working guidelines on what it means to be an adult in modern society. I’m open to revisions. But I think I’ve got a little something here.