s there a magic button that we can all press once we turn eighteen? Congratulations you’re an adult! Here are all the responsibilities which that entails. 

In case you haven’t figured it out already, there is no such button, and there is no list provided to you with all the “adult” qualifications. This journey is not so clean-cut, and it’s not easy.

Your legal age differs from your actual adult responsibilities. For many of us, we feel like adults long before the government labels us as so, and for many others, we could be going on into our mid-twenties and still don’t feel like we have this adulthood thing down. 

Regardless, you’ll know that you’re on your way to adulthood when you’ve accomplished one of these things. They serve as a marker of your transition, and you only have more bills and more responsibilities to look forward to after. Or not. 

  • Do it yourself home maintenance
  • Commuting
  • Your aging body
  • Keeping a pet or plant alive
  • An evolved taste in alcohol
  • Your loans, or more importantly paying them
A young man in a woodshop drills a small piece of wood into another.
Living on your own can be great until you realize you have to keep up the house yourself. 

Do it yourself home maintenance

Well, well, well, it looks like your washing machine is broken. Do you know how to fix it? No. Are you going to stick a book under the left edge and hope that stops the ominous rumbling? Yes, you are. 

Being an adult means that you’re going to have to tend to your household affairs yourself. And in the early years, you’re not going to have the money to spend on an overpriced electrician or handyman to come into your home and fix a few things.

So you’re going to do them yourself. YouTube videos and some advice from friends can get you a long way in the home repair department. So can paintings, and decorations, when it comes time to hide a crack in the plaster on your wall. 

Part of doing some home maintenance is getting creative with your options. When something breaks you have to evaluate whether or not you can afford to hire someone to fix it. 

And if you can’t figure it out yourself. If you can do either of these things without spiraling into a panic more than twice in an hour, you’ve got it going on pretty well. 

Two passengers sit cross legged on a subway.
The true marker of an adult job, your commute. 


You’ve heard your parents talk about it, you’ve seen them coming home after a long day at work slumping into the couch with a sigh, and throwing their arms over the eyes for a moment of peace.

Not only do you have to go to work now, but you also have to travel there and come back. And no, most of these commutes aren’t a quick ten-minute drive or a leisurely fifteen-minute walk to your downtown area. They’re long. Thirty minutes. Forty-five. An hour. 

The average commuting time for an American is twenty-seven minutes. Which on paper doesn’t sound too bad. But this is just an average, this isn’t everybody, and it’s not taking in all the time it takes for you to get ready and get out the door to whatever transportation you use. 

A train ride or a bus ride to your place of work could easily take half an hour, if not more. And you might even have to switch lines to a new one. Public transportation is tricky, it’s not always on time, and if you miss it there might not be a new one coming for a while.

Your car, while more personal might not be better. Bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush hour is a different breed of frustration. Make sure to have your favorite playlist rigged up, cause you might be there a while. 

A woman sits in her kitchen with a cup of tea, rubbing at the back o her neck in discomfort.
Body aches and insomnia, all a part of what makes you an adult. 

Your aging body

So you used to be able to stay up until three am, wake up at seven, drag yourself out of bed, and on the bus to school without a complaint or worry. It was a schedule you had down pat. Nowadays, you’re falling asleep staring at the TV at ten o’clock, and even when you do sleep past eight, you’re exhausted.

Welcome to the wonderful world of your aging body. It hates you, you hate it, and you can’t eat pizza anymore without getting ridiculously bloated afterward.

This is something both to appreciate and feel a bit sad about. You’re aging and growing! Your body is supposed to change, that’s natural. You're losing your baby fat and gangly arms from teenagedom and growing into an adult body.

But at the same time, you’ve lost that youthful energy and that wonderful stupendous metabolism that you used to eat your way through chicken wings, fries, and burgers for dinner in high school.

When you get injured, you’re not going to bounce back as quickly. You have to start eating more healthily. You don’t fare so well in the exercise department anymore, it’s a struggle to keep up with the younger people in the gym. 

But hey, at least when you’re buying ice cream for dinner, it’s a choice you’ve made yourself. 

A blue beta fish swims in a small tank with gray rocks at the bottom.
You’re living alone, and you're feeling the isolation. How about a cat for that? 

Keeping a pet or plant alive

Congratulations! You’re a parent. Well, a pet parent. Before you give the real thing a whirl, let’s try to keep a plant shiny and green for a couple of weeks without wilting.

Let’s be real, when you’re a kid the one taking care of the family dog or cat or turtle or goldfish isn’t you, it's your parents. Or an older sibling who doesn’t forget to feed the starving fish a few food flakes and change its algae-covered tank every once in a while.

Getting a pet that belongs to you as an adult, and only you is a big step in terms of responsibility. There are no excuses when your pet literally only has you to rely on. So they can teach you pretty quickly how to keep a home clean, how to install discipline, and how to budget your money for added expenses.

If you’re doing it right, your furry friend will not only be a loving companion but a trained one too. At least for any dog or cat, you might get.

If you’re not quite ready to commit those pets, a fish would be a good suggestion. Or a plant. Your plants can be your kids too. And there is nothing more satisfying than watching a sprout grow and flourish under your care into a full-grown leafy monstrosity. 

A group of friends make a toast with their golden colored drinks.
Being an adult means you're tired of the four-dollar beer that tastes like sewer water. 

An evolved taste in alcohol

Have you finally given up on Natty Lights? Finally, those days in college are over, when you were wall to wall with some sweaty strangers in the basement of a person you didn’t even know, sipping foul-tasting beer while trap music blasted from a mishmashed DJ setup.

Listen, there’s no judgment on whatever kind of alcohol you prefer. One, alcohol is expensive and you don’t have the money to be browsing through those fancy liquor stores for a bottle of wine that’s older than you are.

But still, the boxed wine you used to love in college doesn’t do it for you anymore. Neither do the neon-colored wine coolers from Seagrams or Mike’s Hard. They’re fine, and if you're at a party you’ll gladly partake but sometimes you want something harder, stronger.

Also, you might be one of the lucky ones that have a little more money to be spending. So why not use it on that fancy liquor you’ve never tried but always seen at your parent’s parties. 

Even better, but some fancy glasses! Wine glasses, whiskey tumblers, even if you don’t love the line of fire that Jack Daniels might leave down your throat well you can fill that glass of yours with juice and pretend that you’re living it up while watching something on Netflix. 

A woman counts her cash at her desk with a notebook in front of her.
Finally, the one you’ve all been waiting for. Loans. 

Your loans, or more importantly paying them

Here’s the big one, money. The thing your parents and your family are always harping on you about, and the thing you also don’t want to hear. But it’s important, and probably the most prominent indication of adulthood for you.

When you’re just starting as an adult, fresh out of your parents’ home, into the workforce, or into college where after four years you come out having no idea what you want to do with your life, you’re going to have to take out a loan eventually.

Whether it’s to pay for the college education that was supposed to help you into the workforce, or for something else like an apartment, a house, or a car. 

Most of us can’t pay for these large expenses outright, there’s just not that much money in our pockets. But if you’ve managed to keep your credit score good, then you can work on these larger investments. 

Better yet, after a while, you’ll be able to start paying them. And when that day comes in the far future when you have your apartment paid off, or your car all to your own. Adulthood is going to taste so much sweeter. 

A group of ladies make a cheers with their beers.
Yeah, adult life is stressful, but take it one step at a time if you can.

Participating in even just one of the things on this list is qualified to give you a major day’s headache. So if you’ve got a couple of them down, you’re on your way to the big leagues.

Adulthood is basically a long winding road of trials and tribulations, with more than enough rocks in your way to trip over and teach you a lesson. So give yourself a pat on the back for the things you do accomplish. And take a day off, because you need it. 

Mar 29, 2021