he air is getting colder, the leaves are getting crunchier, and fall drinks are back at Starbucks, which can only mean one thing -- spooky season is upon us! And you don’t have to scroll through the latest Huluween horror flicks to see something scary -- being an adult is scary enough all on its own. You’re supposed to have it together, but do you? Do any of us?
If you feel like you’ve still got a lot to figure out, you’re not alone. In honor of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of the 31 scariest things about adulting. Keep reading… if you dare!
1. Needing nerves of steel to live on your own.
Sure, it’s unlikely that a deranged murderer is going to scale the stairs to your 6th floor walkup apartment and be waiting in your closet when you get home from work, but the chances are never zero.
And as if feeling kind of ridiculous as you check under the bed weren’t enough, you also have to deal with more mundane concerns like what would happen if you met an untimely end at breakfast one morning because you choked on your toast and nobody was there to save you. Do cats really eat their owners' eyeballs? *shudders*
2. When the phone rings, it's all on you.
In your teens and even early 20s, you can probably get away with letting unknown numbers go straight to voicemail, but as an adult, scam calls about your car’s extended warranty aren’t the only ones lighting up your phone. Work calls. The pharmacy calling to tell you your insurance didn’t go through (again 🙄). And now that you don’t have all summer to spend at home with your parents, you should probably answer when mom calls, too.
3. You have to make your own doctor’s appointments, and even worse, you have to go.
As an adult, you don’t necessarily want mom and dad fighting all of your battles for you, but man, wouldn’t it be nice sometimes? Nothing’s worse than making a phone call you don’t want to make to make an appointment you don’t want to go to, except maybe actually dragging yourself to that appointment because you’re a grown up and you have to.
4. Wondering who’s flickering the lights, and then realizing you forgot to pay the electric bill.
Bills are like horror movie monsters -- they can be tough to keep track of. You may think you paid them all and the credits are ready to roll, but then BAM! There’s always one more that somehow catches you off guard.
5. Worrying about finding The One.
Dating in your 20s is tough. Not only are you trying to navigate the world as a full-fledged adult and fighting off anxiety about dying alone since you’ve wasted some prime dating years locked down in a global pandemic, you’re also hitting the age your parents and mentors were when they hit important milestones like getting engaged or married.
It can be tough not to stress out about it when at 27 your parents had two kids and you had two dinners-for-one from Chipotle this week. Especially if the adultier adults in your life start trying to set you up with “really great” singles they know. How are you supposed to know if they're the Gomez to your Morticia or a regular Patrick Bateman? 😟
6. Laundry day. And all the other chores, for that matter.
Running a household is a lot of work, whether it’s a dorm, an apartment, or an actual house. Every adult has experienced the nightmare of reaching into their drawer on a Tuesday morning to grab clean underwear before work only to find it empty. It’s okay. You’ll get through it. And you’ll start throwing a load of laundry in the washer every Sunday as a precaution because of it.
7. Looking at the nutrition facts on your favorite snacks and realizing that everything delicious is bad for you.
This one goes out to all the delicious nostalgic snacks out there that you packed away without a care in the world in your childhood -- the gallons of Mountain Dew, piles of Pop Tarts, Pringles by the sleeve, bottomless Dunkaroos, pints of ice cream, countless Twinkies. Sure, one of the cool parts about being an adult is that you get to decide what you eat. But take a look at the label of your favorite snack (it would take how long to work off the calories from a king-sized candy bar??) and you'll probably reconsider how often you indulge. And that's how you end up breaking a single square of dark chocolate off a candy bar you keep in the freezer every night after dinner.
8. Entry level jobs.
THE JOB MARKET! There, did I scare you?
If the thought of sifting through the nonsense entry level jobs to find one that will make enough for you to pay rent doesn’t get your pulse racing, nothing will.
9. Trying to figure out a skincare routine. How does it work? Does anyone actually know??
Remember when you watched YouTube videos about skincare and thought to yourself: oh I have plenty of time, I don’t have to worry about that for years? Well the time has come. This is your sign. If you don’t have a skincare routine and you know all the words to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, it’s time to consider a night cream.
10. Wondering what the heck escrow is.
The housing market is a scary place. Even if you’re able to find a great deal on a gorgeous home (and it isn’t plagued by angry spirits, structural issues, or annoying neighbors), you still have to figure out how the whole home-buying process works. AH.
11. Two words: back pain.
Have you hit the stage of adulthood where sleeping in a slightly different position one night can mess up your back for the better part of a week? Same.
12. Your metabolism slows down.
Think you know your body? Think again. Everyone tells you that your metabolism changes at 25, and they are correct. Prepare to be more judicious with your french fry intake if you want your clothes to keep fitting the same way. Or to take up running 🤷🏻♀️
13. Hangovers are somehow worse now.
Gone are the days of drinking jungle juice until 3am and then rolling out of bed for a 9am lecture. If you go too hard as an adult, be prepared to be out of commission for a couple of days. And maybe stock up on some Tums. Over-25 hangovers are in their own league.
14. Watching your paycheck disappear after taxes and bills come out.
It’s basically the worst magic trick in history. By the time you’ve paid for all of the things you need to pay for, poof. Your paycheck has disappeared.
15. Dealing with your own inner demons.
There are lots of things that can hold you back as a newly minted adult -- difficult job market, rent prices, living through a marathon of historic events -- but it’s a scary idea to confront that you might be holding yourself back, too. Your bad habits, your poor coping mechanisms, your unaddressed trauma… nobody can deal with them but you, and it isn’t always easy.
I don’t care how cute you think their chubby little hands are -- everybody, everybody, is scared of babies. You’re either scared of having them, scared of not having them, scared of your friends asking you to hold theirs, or scared you’re going to mess yours up. All in all, a high-stress part of adulthood.
17. Staying on top of the news feels like a horror movie marathon.
Is anyone else tired of living in unprecedented times? To make things worse, it’s not like you can avoid being inundated with scary news stories by cancelling cable because social media is full of it.
18. Taking care of yourself when you’re sick.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, please go get your flu shot. You’ll be thanking me when you don’t have to hobble to the grocery store for Nyquil and Campbell’s, only to have the bag break halfway back to your apartment so you have to chase cans of chicken soup across the sidewalk while you feel like death (based on a true story).
19. You’re tired all. the. time.
Okay, maybe you’re tired because you stayed up scrolling through TikToks until 2am last night. But you could also be tired from balancing work and a social life and romantic relationships and family obligations and dealing with the mess of a decade the 2020s have been so far. Take care of yourself.
20. Running into your ex somewhere unexpected.
By the time you’ve hit adulthood, pretty much everyone has had a bad breakup. And the worst part of a bad breakup isn’t crying into your ice cream at 3am while you watch trash reality tv, it’s unexpectedly bumping into them down the road. Because of course you’ll be having a bad hair day, and you’ll be running late, and you’ll look like you don’t have it together at all. Even if by some miracle you are looking and feeling your best, running into that ex can still throw your day off. Talk about scary.
21. Dragging yourself out of bed on time every morning.
There are plenty of good reasons to get out of bed -- you have to get to work on time so you don’t get fired so you can afford to buy your dog the fancy kind of puppy chow with actual food in it, right? But it is so very hard to think of them when your alarm goes off at 7am and your bed is so cozy and warm... maybe just in this one scenario, living in a haunted house would be helpful.
22. Trying to find your place in the world.
Remember how as a kid you thought adults had it all together?
You don’t stop growing as a person just because you’ve hit a certain age or graduated from school or gotten a job. Adults are still figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Which sucks and is scary if you thought you’d feel like you had a handle on things by this point, but hey. Keeps things interesting.
23. Lines. Lines everywhere.
And not just on your face (re: it’s time for you to figure out a skincare routine). The DMV and the deli counter at the grocery store are just the beginning. As an adult, you spend an astounding amount of time waiting in lines or listening to hold music.
24. Work/life balance? Never heard of her.
The gig economy allows for lots of flexibility, but the downside of monetizing your passions in the form of a side hustle or trying to make some extra cash delivering food is that it really eats into your work/life balance. And with wages failing to keep up with inflation over the last four decades or so, carving out time to live your life has been increasingly difficult as it is.
25. Not becoming your parents even though a lot of their advice is actually starting to make sense.
Everyone starts out thinking they'll never become their parents, but getting older has a weird way of changing how you think about things. Maybe you find yourself reaching for a hat every time you go outside past September. Or maybe you start waking up at 5am to cram some personal time into your morning before work. Or in even more extreme cases, maybe you've opened your mouth to say something, only to hear your parents' words come out? 😱 Strange phenomena, yes, but it does happen. Turns out they may have known what they were talking about. On a couple of things, at least.
26. Being buried alive in interest from your student loans.
Only the last surviving friend in a scary movie knows the level of horror you feel when you’ve paid $2000 on a $3000 loan but somehow still have $2500 to go 🙃 Consider paying off your student loans ASAP the real life equivalent of seeing the creepy basement door, and choosing to just walk away. The sooner you get them off your plate, the better.
27. Returning to the world of the living after ghosting your friends for two weeks straight.
Adulting is hard. You may not even try to, but sometimes you just look up from your laptop and realize it’s been weeks since you’ve spoken to anyone not on a Zoom call ☠️
28. Making good choices because you’re a role model now.
Part of being an adult is making big decisions -- the kind that change the whole trajectory of your life. But it’s not like the day-to-day decisions about how you live your life are any easier. As an adult, you’re supposed to do the right thing. But that isn’t always easy to figure out. And I definitely took for granted not having to choose what to make for dinner every night in my childhood.
29. Turning 30.
They say that 30 is the new 20, but whether you’ve already hit the big 3-oh or it’s still on the horizon, it’s hard to deny that it makes you feel old. In the words of everyone’s Netflix therapist Bo Burnham, oh, fuck -- how am I 30??
30. Realizing you are, in fact, a grown up.
Do you ever walk past an adult and think to yourself, hey, it’s an adult. And then you realize that you are also an adult and not a 19 year old English major, and then you question whether your shredded up skinny jeans are still an ok fashion choice? Nope, just me? Cool.
31. Admitting that sometimes you still just need an adult.
Sure, adults are supposed to have it together. But one of the most adult things you can do -- and also one of the scariest things you have to do -- is admit when you don’t know what you’re doing and ask someone who does.
Spooked yet? It’s okay -- we’re right there with you. Just remember that if you ever need an adultier adult, Adultist is here for you. Drop us a line with an adulting-related topic you want to see us cover, or share your adulting horror stories in the comments -- we love to hear from you!
It’s a scary world out there for grown ups, but you’ve got this. Happy Halloween! 🎃
P.S. Wanna take a stroll down memory lane? We also covered the scariest things about college 👻