By Margret Vogl
On my desk sits a yellow stress ball. A simple smiley face consumes its front while the back reads: “Not Adulting Today!” It was a gift from a young adult colleague and I treasure it.
What is Adulting?
“Adulting” is a term from pop culture that playfully captures the angst-filled transition from dependent youth to independent adult.
“I’m not adulting today!” is similar to crying out “Calgon take me away!” in the late 1970’s. The phrase conveys a far-flung wish that student loans would be erased; meals would cook themselves; and employers would cut paychecks simply because we’re good people.
As a person interested in faith formation, the concept of adulting energizes me. I believe the phrase “not adulting today” reflects an opportunity for community revival and personal discernment.
Community Revival: There’s more to life than Adulting.
Through advancements in science and technology, society has become like a large interconnected machine. As digital natives, young adults may be plugged-in but they are struggling to benefit from the system.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young adults have lower employment levels and smaller incomes than previous generations. In addition, young adults are more frequently strapped with student loan debt which impacts their options for housing and reduces their buying power. Young adults are waiting longer to complete traditional milestones of adulthood like marriage and starting a family. At the same time, new milestones of adulthood have yet to emerge.
When my young adult friends say “I’m tired of adulting” they are most often sharing their frustrations over these realities. They feel stuck because in many ways they are. To adult is to become an effective manager of your life and while that is good, it feels incomplete.
This hunger for meaning is where I believe communities of faith can help. Revitalized communities of faith provide alternatives to “mindless adulting” by equipping men and women – both young and old – to discover and live their vocations. In these communities, stale catechesis is replaced by a Culture of Encounter and Vocation.
How do congregational leaders begin this revitalization?
- Let go of old program models that don’t work
- Create space for people to listen and hear God who is calling
- Help people identify their gifts
- Appreciate the diversity of talents present in the community
- Call gifts from the margin to the center
- Uphold the dignity of all work
- Place people in relationship with one another so needs can be shared without shame
- Celebrate and find meaning through story sharing
The yellow stress ball on my desk is a reminder to keep these tasks in mind as I consult with communities of faith. The world is filled with adults but few have discovered the profound joy that stems from intentionally living a life of vocation. Isn’t it time for a change?