Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

Blown Away on Publication Day

The responses to Leirah and the Wild Man 's publication have blown me away! I feel like one of Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham's little fall fairies lifted on a happy gust of wind. I told my husband earlier this month that I wanted to release my first novel secretly, so nobody I knew would feel obligated to buy it and pretend to read it. Even worse, I didn't want my parents or coworkers to actually read my salacious book! I’ve tried for years to find a literary agent who might grant me access to the professional services and veneer of legitimacy that traditional publishing offers, so I would have the courage to put my weird and wild writing out there for readers who don't know me but happen to be looking for 11th century Byzantine thrillers. But I ran out of patience with the publishing industry's compounding scandals, dramas, changing rules, and vulnerability to volatile markets and supply chains. Years ago, finding an agent felt not only possible but inevitab

LEIRAH AND THE WILD MAN: Available for Pre-Order Now!

I am thrilled to announce the surprise release of my first novel! Leirah and the Wild Man: A Tale of Obsession and Survival at the Edges of the Byzantine World is now available for pre-order. Leirah dreams of stealing a Viking longship, hunting pirates, and freeing the world's thralls. As if by magic, the dragon boat of her fantasies appears at her backwoods homestead, and a crew of seductive outlaws invites her to join them in terrorizing the rich with disguises based on the monsters of local folklore. But Leirah fears their secretive interest in her favorite brother Aven. She takes him and flees on an epic journey down the length of the Danube, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, through the gates of Constantinople, and into the last stronghold of the Goths.   on sale October 23, 2021 (hardcover)   and   November 11, 2021 (ebook) Nook Kindle   I released this book softly, with no marketing or distribution arrangements made in advance, so you will not find it already

Pocket of Joy: Laughing Off Bogus Critics

Beware the false devils of other people's anxieties, insecurities, and petty jealousies that they try to project onto you. If you hear negative messages about yourself repeatedly, especially from people who are very significant to you, like your parents or closest friends, they can worm their way under your eardrums and hijack your own inner voice with their damaging scripts. Once internalized, they can sound like fundamental truth, but they lie as shamelessly as the false angels of your ego do. Don't listen to those who fear your competition because they feel threatened by your talent, your passion, or your persistence. Don't listen to those who would betray you just to keep you down in the crab bucket that they themselves are too afraid to escape. Don't laugh with people who are laughing at you in a mean way. It's healthy for your friends and mentors to keep you humble with constructive criticism, friendly ribbing, and gentle teasing. It's good to maintain yo

Pocket of Joy: Starting a Shiny New Project

Oh, the buoyant thrill of a sparkly new idea! Ooh, the giddy joy of starting in on it--like planting the first footprint on a blanket of new-fallen snow, or drawing the first line on a clean sheet of paper, or sweeping the first brushstroke of slick, wet paint across a wall! Of course, it takes follow-through to manifest a dream through the sweaty, dirty, messy middle of any big project. But when you know you can do it, you can hold onto that shiny new feeling to sustain you all the way to the finish. Here I am chiseling away at the remains of my old kitchen back in the spring, when my new kitchen lived only in my imagination. My husband and I have been working on our kitchen (with my parents' help early on) for four months now. Our summer has been a marathon of hard, sweaty, dirty work littered with setbacks, frustrations, and frequent changes of plans--including the decision to redo our main bathroom at the same time, while we're at it! Anyone who has repaired or remodeled a

Pocket of Joy: Catching More Grief with Sugar

A few days ago, I wrote about the irrational anger at death that I discovered lurking under my grief and fear . Then I saw this poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and it broke my heart open in a different place. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (@gabbat) It is said in pop psychology that sadness lies beneath anger, but in myself I find layers of both, one upon another over and over again, glued together with veins of sticky sweet frustrated longings and backed up affections and other feelings wedged here and there untidily, which cannot be easily peeled apart and healed. I suspect that most people are like me in that way, more or less, and so they have patterns of mixed up emotional tissues unlike mine, in other disordered arrangements. Last week I realized once again, as I must do from time to time, that I am a coddled pet of this world, with so many privileges that a sense of entitlement sneaks up on me whenever I forget how a

Small But Sweet Bathroom Renovation

We have fixed, upgraded, and redecorated our little old bathroom just in time for another pandemic winter! Now that the kitchen and main bathroom are both functional and personalized for our family, we are ready to hunker down in comfort. I had hoped I wouldn't have to spend quite as much time at home heading into 2022, but here we are. At home. What a difference it makes to have a beautiful bathroom, though! For a tall person, it is such a relief to my back to have a higher bathroom vanity that allows me to wash my hands without bending over, and a shower that rains down from well above the top of my head! We put up a taller mirror (an inexpensive antique) than the one that was there before and installed the new light fixture ("rescued" from our local Habitat ReStore) up close to the ceiling, making the room seem taller and bigger even though there is actually less space between the vanity top and ceiling. We saved loads of money by doing as much work ourselves as we co

Feast Your Eyes on This Cozy Cabincore Kitchen

My dream kitchen has become a reality at long last! Just in time for fall, I am falling in love with this new hearth of my home. Feast your eyes on this pure Michigan, cozy, crazy, cabincore kitchen! It's too bold and particular a style to be everyone's cup of tea, and that is exactly the point. This isn't a generic, beige box of a house to be flipped into the impersonal sales market, and it's not a rental unit, and it's not an entertainment space designed to be minimally offensive to the maximally judgmental hypothetical guest, it's my family's home , where we personalize our own cups of tea using supplies organized within our giant alien ceramic shelf pod and its smaller companion weird ceramic pod that holds our precious baggie of holy basil given to my husband as a tip at the bike shop he manages. Most of the ceramics in this room were created by a personal friend, artist Lisa Truax, who used local Michigan earth as one of the components in the piece tha

Releasing My Thirsty Darling

Good news! I have accepted the death of my most cherished lifelong career dream, and that means I am ready to release my debut novel exactly the way I want to: full of blood and other juices, rich historical detail about places you've never visited in another book, a large cast of complex characters entangled in complicated relationships, historical authenticity beefed up with a healthy disregard for biased conventions, and an all-absorbing plot that moves at its most effective pace. Leirah and the Wild Man glides forth destined for a fate of cult classic, not bestseller. Let's... push... things... forward. (Shout out to nostalgic muse Mike Skinner of The Streets and his legendarily underrated Original Pirate Material .) Here she comes, my thirsty darling, like the Lady of Shalott floating off to her glorious doom after a fever-hot vision of Lancelot torched her will to stay locked up and safe in her tower. She won't live happily ever after, but she'll look flawless a

Pocket of Joy: Sunny Days with Dark and Stormy Nights

We need both sunshine and rain to survive, all of us--all people, all animals, all plants, all life on Earth. And when we can learn to enjoy changeable weather and seasons with a flexible attitude and a readiness to take advantage of whatever comes along, we can weather the storms of life--metaphorically speaking. Literature helps us to envision pleasures we've never experienced as well as terrors and hardships we've never faced--in the safe, pillowy world of our own imaginations. Reading literary fiction makes us more empathetic and resilient when we encounter situations we've read about in real life. Dark fiction inoculates us against shock and despair in the real world. Writing fiction has therapeutic benefits as well. Way back when I used to participate in NaNoWriMo , I learned that a good author must behave like a fickle, brutal god of the ancients--setting up trials and tribulations for our beloved creations just to watch them fight their way through. My writing compa