“Adulting” is a buzz word often talked about in relation to going to college, graduating, finding a job, moving out of a parent’s house, marriage, buying a home, investments, etc. The media is swarming with many contents on how one can become an adult. But what does adulting really mean?

Adulting can mean different things to different people. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ definition to adulting. It’s an individualized definition that only you can determine for yourself. For some, it might mean earning a stable income to achieve financial freedom while for others it can mean providing daily sustenance for the family. For you, it can mean setting a goal and preparing yourself to achieve it.

So the next time you judge yourself using someone’s life as a mirror to see how far you’ve come on your adulting journey, PAUSE, and use your own mirror. Only you can determine if you’ve become one.

There’s no timeline to adulting. This is one of the most important truths that you should know. Adulting doesn’t happen at a certain age. Every person’s adulting journey is different. We all have different experiences, cultural and religious backgrounds, upbringing, privileges, limitations, and everything else that makes our journey unique. Adulting can happen at any age or at any stage of someone’s life.

Moving out of a parent’s house at age 18 may be the marker of adulthood in some cultures but even within that culture, every individual’s journey is different. This marker can happen at age 20 or 25 or even 40 and can still mean adulting to someone. Although social norms would say otherwise, your adulting timeline is your own.

Adulting is not a one-time event, it’s a non-stop journey. Others might think that adulting happens only once and that once you’ve achieved it, it won’t ever change. The truth is, as our lives continue to unfold, our adulting journey also continues to evolve. You might consider graduating from college to be a marker of adulthood but once you’ve achieved it, your journey does not stop there. You then set your eyes on landing a job that will help you pay the bills and save for your future. Then you set your eyes on another goal and the journey goes on.

It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t mean your goals gets bigger or harder to achieve either. It can be as simple as choosing to get up in the morning even if you don’t feel like going to work or deciding to take a day off to take care of your mental health.

The journey is not just about the victories but also the lessons. Just like most journeys, everyone’s adulting journey has its ups and downs. Sometimes, even after giving your all, it just doesn’t work out the way you want it to . And it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay to feel discouraged and disappointed. What’s not okay is not learning from your experiences or choosing not to act on things that you can improve.

One of the true markers of adulthood is learning from your mistakes and failures and using those lessons to better yourself to become one step closer to your full potential.

Adulting doesn’t mean figuring it all out. If you’ve asked yourself the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and you haven’t quite figured out the answer yet, know that you’re not alone. Many people are not sure what’s next for them in the next 6 months, let alone 5 years. The truth is people figure things out as they go.

Not knowing what’s next doesn’t mean you’re failing at adulting.

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Being an adult has so many demands and it’s so often hard to keep up with. The pressures of work, family, marriage, dating, school, or other priorities that you deal with everyday can pull you in different directions and be overwhelming. It can even make you feel inadequate sometimes.

This is a reality for many and it’s okay. It’s all part of the journey. If you’ve made it through the day, then pat yourself on the back. Take it one day at a time. Celebrate small wins. Set realistic goals and commit to a consistent follow through. Don’t set the bar too high when you plan your day but also not so low that you won’t grow.

Adulting is not about finding time to do everything. As you grow into adulthood, you will realize that there will never be enough time to do everything you want to do but if you focus your time on the things that are most important to you, you will find that the time you’ve been given is enough.

The most important things could be financial stability, purchasing a home, investing and other big goals or it could be anything related to self-care and mental health, preparing a meal for the family, providing a safe space for learning for your kids, or finishing that book you’ve always wanted to read. What’s most important in life varies for everyone. Focus on what is most important to you and don’t let social norms dictate what you spend your time pursuing.

Adulting is fun. When people talk about adulting, sometimes all you hear is about how hard and challenging it is. Some would even say that they envy a kid’s care-free life. The truth is, adulting can be fun—you learn to stand on your own feet, make decisions, be accountable for your choices, earn from a hard day’s work, meet new people, create new relationships, carve your own path and reach for your dreams. You also learn from drawbacks and improve yourself along the way.

It is hard and sometimes exhausting but there’s also beauty in the journey if we embrace the truth that adulting means growing and growing isn’t supposed to be smooth and easy.

Having a ‘lazy day’ is okay. Binge watching your favorite show on a Saturday morning, sleeping in, or deciding to just chill for the day is okay. It doesn’t mean you’re slacking from your adulting goals. It just means you need time to relax—no deadlines or list to check-off. But it also doesn’t mean mindless scrolling on social media all day. It means taking a moment for some peace and quiet.

As you try to figure life out, don’t forget to let your body recuperate. Your mind and body work best when you’re well rested.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re not adult enough. We all need help from others, one way or another. We all need compassion, kindness, empathy, consideration, professional expertise, and the grace of God or divine intervention of some kind. Needing something from others does not equal not being adult enough. It’s the opposite. Recognizing when you need help and asking for it are marks of adulthood.

You might think that no one has time to lend a hand. But you will be surprised by how many people, even strangers, will come to your rescue if you need help. Sometimes, even the help you didn’t ask for will come.

Some help only those who are trained professionally can provide such as counselling or therapy, but don’t be afraid to seek professional help when you need it. Some things are not meant to be done on your own.

Whatever life throws at you, help is always available through the Savior Jesus Christ who knows you personally, knows your needs, and hears your silent petitions.

As you navigate your way through your adulting journey, you’ll discover more truths as you grow and flourish into the person you want to become. Cherish life as it goes. The beauty of adulting does not only lie in the destination but mostly during the journey in the search of what it takes to really become an adult. Enjoy life. Become better than you were yesterday and most importantly take care of yourself.