Kelly Williams Brown's Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps is just about the most helpful guide to becoming a successful adult you'll ever find. Though you'll need 458 more steps to get all the way to Grown-Up, here are 10 to get you started.
Graduates, apologies in advance: I know by now, all of you are (metaphorically) crushed under the weight of advice that piles up around you like so much smug, self-satisfied snow. That, and student loans.
But here is a tiny bit more. It has nothing to do with going in the direction of your dreams or living the life you imagined, and everything to do with not running out of toilet paper or contracting salmonella. Fact: it is nearly impossible to live the life one imagined while in the throes of food poisoning, unless your dreams consist of sipping flat ginger ale and longing for death.
1. Buy four sticks of deodorant
One will live in your bathroom. One will live in the car. One will live at the gym, if you belong, or in your significant other’s home, or wherever it is that you spend time besides your workplace and home. One deodorant shall rule them all, and it shall dwell in your desk at work, and at least once per year you will be so, so grateful for its existence.
2. Your intentions are important — to you. Your actions are the only thing the world experiences
Let’s say you really really meant to send a thank-you note (see Step 3) and didn’t. That is exactly the same as never even thinking about sending a thank-you card. The person who was good to you still gets zero thank-you notes.
3. Send thank-you notes. All the time.
There is nothing bad and everything good about thank-you notes. Got a present? Thank-you note. Someone invited you to a dinner party? Thank-you note. Job interview? Thank-you note. And so on, forever.
First, think about what this person did for you — shopping for meal ingredients to cook something they think you’d like, for example — and the 10 minutes it takes to scrawl out a note seems small in comparison. Plus, this has the slightly sneaky effect of leaving this person inclined to do further nice things for you.
4. Purchase toilet paper in bulk
You will always need toilet paper. Show me a day when you don’t need toilet paper and I will show you a day when you are either backpacking or things are deeply, deeply wrong.
So go ahead and buy a whole bunch at once. 24 — nay, 48 rolls even! Why not? The grocery store clerk isn’t judging you. Whatever you do, do not purchase the individually wrapped rolls at the convenience store. What you are really doing there is buying yourself a false sense of hygienic tissue security.
This works for a variety of non-perishables, including but not limited to laundry detergent, cat food, canned goods, paper towels and so on.
5. Don’t mention how tired you are
Whoa, what? You’re tired? What a fascinating and rare tidbit! Also, this person will definitely be able to help you out on the sleep front.
6. Cook your chicken thoroughly
There’s about 14 million ways to cook chicken, the simplest of which is putting salt and pepper on each side of a chicken breast, then putting a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and cooking over medium-high heat for four to six minutes per side.
Here is the way to know it’s done: jab a knife down in it, then remove the knife and push down on either side. Juice will come out. If it’s clear, yay, chicken time! If it’s pinkish or reddish, you are still in the Salmonella Danger Zone. Give it some more time.
7. When saying something difficult to someone you care about, use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’
This is a very simple
but and very important concept. (See what I did there?) These two phrases would be heard very differently:
“I love you but I need you to respect my boundaries.”
“I love you and I need you to respect my boundaries.”
The word ‘but’ negates whatever came before it, while the word ‘and’ signifies that whatever comes next is a logical extension of the thought.
8. Bleach is your friend. Your potentially destructive, but ultimately useful, friend.
Bleach is the domestic equivalent of a volatile but ultimately brilliant coworker. It will ruin everything if you disrespect it, but used correctly, it can do just about anything.
Here’s the secret: dilute it in water. If you want to bleach your whites (natural fibers only!), let the washer fill up, then add ¼ cup. If you want your porcelain tub to be white again, fill it up with hot water then add ¼ cup of bleach and let it sit for 20 minutes. If you’re going to clean with it — spoiler alert! — dilute it in warm water. Then wear latex gloves and marvel at a clean that will burn your eyes if you let it, so be sure to open a window for ventilation.
9. Be fine with being alone in a public place, as no one notices or cares you’re alone besides you
What you think others are thinking, when they see you alone: “Oh, gross. Look at that woman, eating teriyaki chicken all alone! God, how awful. What has she done, that she has no friends or family or significant other to care about her? Does she smell bad? What did she do to alienate everyone from her life?”
What people are actually thinking, when they see you are alone: “[Thoughts completely unrelated to you.]”
You can just enjoy the pleasure of your own company. You don’t have to fidget, or stare compulsively at your phone, or look around desperately for someone to save you from the terrible fate of not making boring small-talk.
10. You are a better grown-up than you think you are
I promise. You handle many aspects of your life superbly — it’s whatever you’re not good at that you hold up to yourself as proof of your non-adultness. Adulthood doesn’t have to be everything at once. It can be one small step at a time.