A User's Guide to #Adulting

Ready to say “Yes, please!” to independence but nervous about the responsibilities that come with it? We’ve got you covered.

Laundry. Job interviews. Meal prep. Thank-you notes. Does the mere thought of these tasks fill you with a mixture of dread and anxiety? (Dranxiety?) Thinking about all the responsibilities of adulthood can be super stressful, especially since adults often act like this stuff comes naturally to them. Truth is, no one is born knowing how to make a meal or open a savings account. The grown-ups in your life all had to learn these life skills, and if they could learn them, you can too. Once you do, you’ll start reaping the benefits right away.

That’s because when you do things for yourself, you get a lot more say in how they’re done. (Like your scrambled eggs soft but not too soft? Make them yourself, and they’ll be perfect every time.) Plus, the confidence you get from accomplishing things on your own will empower you to try new things, which will grow your skill set even more. The goal is not to do everything flawlessly (even adults aren’t perfect at adulting). Instead, think of adulting as a muscle—if you start exercising it now, you’ll be ready to do the heavy lifting of adulthood when the time comes.

Not sure how to begin? The following four skills will give you a jump start on feeding yourself, clothing yourself, snagging a job or internship, and keeping your living space organized—in other words, being an adult (even if your 18th birthday is still years away).


1. Write a Thank-You Note

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Expressing gratitude to someone who helps you with something, gives you a gift, or does you a favor is not just good etiquette. It helps you too. According to one study, you can experience increased feelings of wellbeing for months after you’ve sent a thank-you. And you can get it done in minutes. A handwritten, snail-mailed note is best, but if you don’t have the person’s address (or if time is of the essence), an email is OK. And even a thank-you text is better than nothing!

  • Open with a greeting— “Dear” if you’re being formal, a simple “Hi!” for a friend.
  • State your thanks for the gift or gesture.
  • Add a detail about how you’ll use it or what you love most about it.
  • Close by mentioning the next time you’ll see the person.

2. Do a Load of Laundry

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: Nasty germs like E. coli and salmonella, both of which can cause diarrhea (eww!), can live on dirty clothes for up to several weeks. Plus, sweat and oils from your body rub off on your clothes, making them stinky. Aside from health and hygiene reasons, you just feel better when you’re wearing a clean, nice-smelling outfit—and you look better too.


  • Prep your load: Unball socks and empty all pockets. Separate new, brightly colored items to wash separately and remove clothes that say “dry clean only” on the tag.
  • Put your load in the washing machine, making sure you leave room for the clothes to move freely, then add detergent and adjust the settings according to the instructions. Most clothes can be washed on cold, which uses less energy and is better for the environment.
  • Set a timer on your phone. Wet clothes that sit in the washer for too long can start to grow smelly bacteria and will need to be washed again.
  • Once the wash cycle is over, remove anything that says “line dry” on the tag.
  • Make sure there’s no lint on the dryer vent. Add your clothes and start the cycle.
  • Set your timer again.
  • When the dryer dings, take the laundry out immediately so it doesn’t get wrinkly. If you want to flex your adulting muscle, fold the clothes and put them away.

3. Make a Simple Meal

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Nothing screams “I’m an adult” louder than being able to cook a scrumptious, satisfying meal for yourself (bonus points if you cook for friends and family too). Cooking at home is healthier and cheaper than takeout or fast food and better for the environment because your meal doesn’t have to be packaged. Cooking is also a great way to bond with a grown-up: “If you have a parent or grandparent who loves to cook, watch them,” says chef Mary Giuliani. “And don’t be afraid of making mistakes—the worst kitchen disasters sometimes turn into great meals.”

HOW TO CRUSH IT: Protein-packed scrambled eggs are quick, versatile, and will keep you full for hours. Once you’ve mastered the basics, get creative with add-ins: chopped veggies, grated cheese, crumbled bacon—you name it. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Put a skillet on the stove and turn on the burner under the skillet to medium.
  2. Crack two eggs into a bowl. Add a splash of milk and a pinch of salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix the eggs until the whites and yolks are blended.
  3. Add a big pat of butter to the skillet. When it starts to sizzle, pour in the eggs.
  4. Using a spatula, gently move the eggs around the pan until the mixture starts to look solid and there are no runny parts. This should take only a minute or two.
  5.  Turn off the stove and immediately transfer the eggs onto a plate.
  6.  Dig in!

4. Keep Your Room Tidy

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Maintaining a clean space has proven benefits: You’ll sleep better, be more productive, have more focus, and, oh yeah, always be able to find the things you’re looking for. Plus, getting in the habit of keeping your room tidy and organized now will help in the future when you’re sharing a space with a roommate, officemate, or family of your own. According to cleaning expert Rachel Hoffman (she wrote a book called Cleaning Sucks, so you know she gets it), the trick is frequent small bursts of tidying, as opposed to a marathon session when the clutter is so thick you can’t see the floor. Aim to get in the habit of doing a little bit every day.


  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and put on some music. When the timer goes off, you’re done.
  • Look for things that have the potential to smell. Deal with dirty dishes, garbage, and wet towels first.
  • Beware the floordrobe. The pile of clean clothes strewn all over your room will soon become dirty clothes if you don’t put them away.
  • At the very least, make your bed. Studies show that daily bedmaking can boost happiness—and it’s a two-minute way to feel accomplished first thing in the morning. Think of it as a gift to bedtime you.
  • And remember this mantra: Don’t put it down, put it away. If you get in the habit of putting your shoes, coat, and pack in their proper spots as soon as you get home, you won’t have to deal with them later.

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