Full transparency: I really don’t like this new catch phrase “adulting”. I mean, there are 40-year-olds using the phrase to describe an abdication of responsibilities. Living in Grown-up Land isn’t some esoteric concept. Being a responsible, productive part of society is the natural progression in life. It’s not some new phrase that just got slapped on a t-shirt.

Okay, now that we have my personal bias well documented, let’s chat; because there are a few handy rules of engagement (or you could say “guidelines/ suggestions/tips” if you don’t like the stringency of the word “rules”) that can help immeasurably when you’re interacting with humans of the adult kind. (This really can be applied to engaging with all humanity no matter the age, but for our purposes here, we’ll limit this to adults.)

1.) Compassion is key. How you apply it (compassion, mercy, grace) determines how much you get back when you need it. You don’t have to understand folks to be okay with people being people. Sure, sometimes people NEED a lecture and a reprimand…I mean seriously, shouldn’t everyone driving in the passing lane get a stern talking to? Other times they just need a hug. There’s absolutely a time for tough love – knowing when to hold and when to fold, when to stay, and when to walk away. I am a fan and believer in the tough love concept, but proper application is fundamental. Remember the first part I mentioned about “it” (compassion, mercy, grace)? If you’re in doubt as when to apply tough love, revert to measuring up a sizable amount of any of those three. It’s better to err on the side of caution, never know when you’ll need it in return.

2.) People are people, not your personal expectation valet. Meet people where they are (and determine if you want to stay). It’s tempting to try to change people, but you have to deal with them as they are, not how you’d like them to be. And understand that deciding to terminate a relationship – whether personal, business, or even familial – doesn’t automatically mean you or the other person are bad. It means that you are conscious (Know thyself!) of where you are, and of the direction your compass is pointing you. This is essential for surviving and thriving in Grown-up Land.

3.) Disagreement doesn’t equal intolerance and love doesn’t equal agreement. We live in the age of positivity (I’ll be writing another post on this concept), and I get it, it’s important to have hope and to feel joy. But (and it’s a big “but”) reality is a gamut of emotions and feelings, and joy and happiness are just two of those. If you reduce and restrict your interactions only to people who make you feel abundantly joyous 100% of the time, you are setting yourself up for epic failure. It is completely unreal, and if you live that life, you will never build your coping muscles (something I hear very few people on social media talking about while they promote 100% positivity all the time). Grown-up Land requires coping skills, and to develop them, you need some practice, just like everything else you want to develop. So yes, keep that irritating person or polar-opposite-in-beliefs person (for God sake, who in their right mind voted for ‘fill in the blank’ anyway), in your life…it’s good practice. Oh, there’ll be more about this point in the future.

4.) Lastly, get over yourself. Yes to self-care and self-love; no to thinking the universe has conspired against you, you are top of mind for people, or the offense was against you. Most people are just trying to get through their days. While you think very highly of yourself (and that’s not a bad thing), their comment or action probably had very little to do with you, and everything to do with them. When someone gets you riled, consider the possibility that you’re being overly sensitive. People are messy, and if you have plans to participate in Grown-up Land, you’ll likely get a little dirty, too.

In All Ways and Always,