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Every Millennial Is Now an Adult Without -Ing

Millennials are no longer the new kids on the block! (Not to be confused with the boy band NKOTB, who are members of Gen X.) Millennials are all adults now, adults as a noun, no matter what we are doing or how well we have mastered life skills. As a matter of fact, we are roughly 25 - 40 years old, not girls and boys, not yet old olds. After years of riding the "adulting" struggle bus, we have arrived! We are the newest adults in the room, and we are winging it just like every other adult before us. We may whine more. We may cling to our childish fandoms longer. Nevertheless, the time for using "adult" as a verb has ended. We are adults, for better or worse. So has the time also come for us to let go of the laugh-cry emoji, side parts, skinny jeans, and the color millennial pink?

Short answer: No! We're the grownups and we do what we want. It's a tough spot because from now on, the harder we try to appear young, the older we look. But it's also a sweet spot because we're too mature to be bullied by fashion trends or TikTokers. Amirite?

Long answer: We don't have to do anything TikTok says, but maybe it's wise to reassess our habits once a decade or so, because we have entered the danger zone when some people get stuck in a time period and calcify into relics before their lives are even half over. We are balanced between the two age-related hazards of trying too hard and atrophying. Staying as awesomesauce as we are right now requires us to stay on top of social progress and cultural shifts as time goes on.

We are fully post-pubescent now, and we don't have to care about what adolescents think is cool unless we are buying a birthday gift for a child. We must resist the impulse to set all our pants on fire and cut all our shirts in half. At the same time, we are pushing middle age, and it's more important than ever to keep fresh by constantly learning and trying new things.

In this moment, we are the perfectly ripe avocado.

But unlike a harvested fruit, we are still alive and capable of adapting. We are neither green little teens nor compost bin scraps! Not even close, because the greatest trend of the 2020s is pro-aging instead of anti-aging, and people of every generation, from TikToker kids to badass centenarians, are getting behind that concept.

Here's how I am embracing it:

Digital Communication

I know better than to use excessive, literal emoji with my preteen daughter and her friends unless I am embarrassing them on purpose (LULZ!), but I'm still using them with my elder millennial friends, and I am not done having fun with stupid GIF reactions, especially if they reference long-ago times from before Facebook even existed. Resurrecting early South Park jokes is my birthright. 



Center parts and fluffy eyebrows are fine with me. Low-maintenance feels right in a pandemic. I've done plenty of hairstyles over the years--long, short, straight, curly, various kinds of bangs, no bangs, zig-zag parts, crown poufs, pigtails, messy buns, ponytails high and low, whatever. Hair is fun because you can style it however (avoiding Gorilla Glue, of course) and cut it however and it grows back. There's no shame in the game. It's fun to laugh at your own out-of-date hairstyles and makeup looks in old photographs, but only when you aren't still sporting them. WWJVND? (What Would Jonathan Van Ness Do?) Makeovers and makeunders are fun. Let's never retire from them.

I'm refreshed by the young folks' reaction against the surgically-enhanced, frosted-like-a-cake-wreck, finished-with-Facetune, Kardashian-branded fake-face constructed from injections of foreign substances, maybe drywall, and definitely AI technology and then copied and pasted as the false identity of all rich girl Instagram influencers (who have become abruptly passe), which I always found gruesome and grossly undignified. On the spectrum of trying too hard vs. letting myself go, I'm leaning toward transforming gradually into a powerful bog witch.

As I mentioned above, I'm loving the "pro-aging" trend for adults, and in this case it harmonizes with Gen Z's preference for recognizably human faces.

The only thing I'm committed to doing differently now and not looking back is to take advantage of my long year away from the hair salon by continuing to grow out my new natural silver "highlights." Aging rocks! 😂


Everyone calm down, because nobody is coming to peel the skinny jeans or Amazon leggings out of your butt crack. If you still want to wear leggings, jeggings, or jeans resembling sausage casings, they will remain on the market as long as there are millennials to buy them. At this moment, there are stores that still sell all the little-old-lady clothes that my little old grandma wears, brand new. Maybe in the future, H&M will be the new Christopher & Banks.

I, for one, am more than happy to pull out my vintage bootcut jeans, wide-leg trousers, and clam-diggers. (Are those last ones even back in style yet? I don't care!)

There are some trends for all ages that came of living through a pandemic that I'd like to carry forward into the rest of the 2020s too. Maybe as my daughter grows up, we'll be able to share some of those post-pandemic fashions!

Some of today's retro comeback trends are giving me new life. I'm ready to trade in my day pajamas for postmodern prairie frocks, a.k.a. nap dresses, and my jeggings for joggers. I'm looking forward to trying on new jeans styles, or maybe styles so old they could have been on the set of That '70s Show, and I'm thinking about finally breaking in a pair of Birkenstocks, which are now sported by both old hippies and little VSCO girls.

It's the circle of life!

And like I said, if you want to keep wearing skinnies, you can, and you can also decide not to care whether middle schoolers think you look cool in them. Face it and embrace it: skinny jeans are the new mom jeans. And you're the mom now (or one of Mom's friends), so you get to wear what you want.

Home Design

Gen Z can pry the millennial pink paint out of my cold, dead hands. Kids don't get a say in home decor beyond their own bedrooms because they aren't old enough to own homes. My emotional support plants are staying on the open shelves right where I put them, dammit.

If it helps you to feel more youthful about your grandmillennial decor choices, just get a load of all the Gen X "farmhouse McMansion" and beige-box-boomer houses that olds are still conspicuously consuming on HGTV. (If you aren't old enough to do old-people stuff like subscribe to cable, you can peep clips on YouTube, kind of like how we millennials watch TikTok videos of funny cats on Instagram because we are steadfastly too old to download the TikTok app.)

And anyway, my 10-year-old daughter, who falls somewhere on the cusp between Gen Z and whatever comes next (she's rooting for the name "Gen Alpha"), designed her own bedroom with minimalist furniture and pale pink walls.


No matter what you are doing with your adulthood--no matter how you text, part your hair, gird your butt, or style your shelves--if you're a millennial, we're all adults here. No -ings about it. We're the grownups now, and we call the shots! The fact that teens are now making fun of us is all the proof we need of our age-earned authoritah.


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