Adulting: A whole new word we never knew

Sean Siman // June 23, 2019, 1:00 am

Adulting 2

Before graduation, “adulting” was a term that used to stand for anything and everything that I didn’t need to do as a student. To my great surprise, I discovered that everyone in and around my age group – even if they were from different communities – was also using the term.

Of course, there were slight variations as to what the word referred to. For some, it spoke of the massive number of choices they were confronted with regarding what they could now do with their lives.

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For others, it meant the shouldering of responsibilities associated with “real adulthood”. For the rest, it reflected the big life transitions that people in their early to late 20s were suddenly going through.

Adulting felt like being thrust into a whole new world, even though the landscape around us hadn’t really changed. Everyone and everything still looked the same, but suddenly life was demanding different and more challenging things from us.


The beliefs that we had held since childhood were occasionally being called into question, and we were challenged to develop new world views. Some of us were confronted with “Abram moments” and were called to leave home behind to build a new life elsewhere.

For many, it felt like a season of being nomads: Wandering everywhere but belonging nowhere.

Young adults receive the schedule, expectations and resources of an adult, but do not feel that they can adequately navigate the responsibilities and challenges of this life stage.

We thought going through adolescence – that messy time of transition and swinging emotions – was difficult. Yet, I would be the first to admit that I was even more unprepared for this next growing-up phase.

In my opinion, what makes adulting so challenging is that young adults are people who receive the schedule, expectations and resources of an adult, but do not feel that their hearts, minds and practices can adequately navigate the responsibilities and challenges of this life stage.

In the meantime, life doesn’t stop for us. Some of us have hoped that adulting would be easy, that it would be manageable. We believed that with enough preparation we would overcome adulting’s difficulties on the first try and minimise its pains.

Unfortunately, this is more the exception than norm. In my few months of adulting, I, and many of my peers, have found that adulting is neither easy nor smooth. Indeed, in some areas it has been a downright disaster for me.

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Adulting will give us some sharp kicks and heavy knocks, and I’m not going to pretend that it’s going to be easy. But I’m writing to say that you’re not alone. God has sent His angels and His people to walk by your side. And He Himself will hold your hand and carry you on His back through even the most difficult of times.

Knowing this might be the first step you need for the journey of successful adulting.

Sean is on staff with Graceworks, which will be holding a course on Spiritual Adulting at the Biblical Graduate School of Theology (BGST). Graceworks founder Rev Dr Tan Soo-inn will be teaching six sessions on ministry to young adults. Pastors or young adult church leaders, as well as young adults who would like to help older leaders understand the needs of the generation, are welcome to attend. For more information or to register, visit the BGST website.