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How to adult: What you need to know before you’re really a ‘grownup’

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(Graphics by Katie Tamosiunas / The DePaulia)

If you Google “adult-ing” and look at the images that show up, you won’t see professional adults with business-casual outfits, people giving each other handshakes or professional headshots. Instead, there are hundreds of memes poking fun at growing up. There is a meme of a tiny, brown pug lying on a wood floor looking exhausted with a caption reading, “Please don’t make me adult today.” The transition from student to grown-up can be a bit tricky. It’s awkward, harsh and sometimes funny.

Joce Carrera, a DePaul junior, knows just how harsh growing up can be.

“I tried doing my taxes on my own for the first time,” he said. “My mom had explained to me that as a student I get my taxes back and I shouldn’t have to pay more. So when I did them and found out that I owed more than I was getting back, I realized that I still wasn’t ready for the real world.”

Michael Mulligan, a DePaul sophomore, said he thinks sometimes growing up can be a little bit tricky, but tries to get a laugh out of it as much as he can.

“The funniest thing that has happened was the first time I bought groceries by myself,” Mulligan said “I swear I came back to my apartment with 10 things of ramen, a box of chicken in a biscuit, a bunch of bouncy balls and a gallon of milk. Not very balanced, but pretty funny.”

When someone thinks about the transition to adulthood, usually what first comes to mind are the instances when you tried growing up but failed hysterically. What also comes to mind are the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Then, maybe you question how you can delay it all but you realize you can’t.

A lot of the times there aren’t answers to how to become an adult but fear not, if you need a bit of assistance, below is a list of adult-ing tricks that anyone is welcome to use. You no longer have to Google anything like, “What are bills and how can I pay them on time?”

Personal Life

silhouettes-02Your personal life is important and the great thing about it is that you get so much freedom. However, with freedom comes partying like an adult. If you want to host a dinner party for your friends like an adult, you want to have the right food, the right dinnerware and the right silverware. You want to plan a menu that has complex dishes like pasta, rotisserie chicken or salmon. So say good-bye to that instant macaroni and cheese and grab your favorite cookbook.

Say you are at the receiving end of the invitation. What should you take to the dinner party?

Nikolai Nodal, a DePaul senior, is comfortable with these situations and said it all depends on how well you know the person who invited you to the party.

“In general, it’s usually polite to bring a dessert, or dish or maybe drinks, and usually if I know the person well, I’ll ask, ‘Is there anything I could bring?’” Nodal said.

Once you are at a dinner party, table manners are very important. Nodal, who has attended an etiquette seminar, said waiting until everyone is served before eating is polite. If you are not sure as to what is considered polite manners, “asking is a good idea too,” Nodal said.

Sure, table manners, chewing with your mouth closed and holding your fork and knife correctly seems a tad boring, but while you learn about all these things, you’ll be learning about yourself, too. Going out of your comfort zone is great to do when you’re learning about adulthood.

“The fun part is that you get to figure yourself out a little bit without anyone else pushing you,” Mulligan said. “You get the chance to learn a little bit about you, what you like and don’t like. What styles of living work for you — it all becomes choice.”


silhouettes-03Professionalism is big. It’s important because after college you enter the professional world. Exciting, I know. First, to be professional, you need to know how to shake someone’s hand.

Sometimes it can be weird when you don’t know what to do. Anam Merchant, a DePaul junior, has had an experience that did not go so well.

“Someone introduced himself (to me) and I just waved, and then we were both going in for a handshake at different times,” Merchant said. “It’s the weird moments when (you) don’t know what to do with your hand.”

An adult’s handshake does matter. A person should stand with confidence, make eye contact and shake the person’s hand a few times before releasing. You should also say “hello”, followed by the name of the person you are greeting. If you are meeting the person for the first time then you should give them your name.

Another aspect of professionalism has to do with our everyday use of social media. Social media is great, but at work, not so much. The rule of thumb to be successful and be productive is that people should never go on social media while at work. And when it comes to social media accounts, adults need to be careful with what they post.

“I would suggest everyone put their social media on private — that’s just a smart thing,” Caitlyn Brogan, a DePaul senior, said. “Hopefully everyone knows too that what they put out there will always be able to be found to some capacity — it doesn’t always go away when you delete it.”


Making a meal may be familiar territory for young adults, but for most, what drinks to pair with certain meals is not. I’m not talking about your typical boxed wine or cheap beer, I’m talking about expanding your palate and trying things like Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon.

When it comes to wine, you need to know what to pair it with. According to Michael Lynch, a DePaul business adjunct professor who teaches International Wine Education and Management, wine has to be matched with the food being consumed.

“Match acidity with acidity, weight with weight and creaminess with creaminess,” Lynch said. “Bear in mind that sweet will counteract spicy. Also, if it grows together, it goes together,” Lynch said.

Lynch said if a dish has some type of lemon, like a fish or a chicken dish, then it should be paired with an acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc. If the dish is a buttery lobster, for instance, it should be paired with an oaked Chardonnay. Drinking Zinfandel is a great wine for your summer barbecues, Lynch said.

Some interesting pairings Lynch enjoys include Muscato d’Asti with Garrett’s popcorn and sparking wine with Kentucky Fried Chicken or salty popcorn.

But what Lynch said is most important when drinking wine is to drink what you like and pair it with the food you enjoy the most.

“Sticking closely to the rules will help you expand your palate and introduce you to new experiences,” Lynch said. “The mistake far too many people make is trying to adhere to someone else’s taste. Life is too short.”


silhouettes-04Paying bills is not always easy, especially after graduating college when you have to pay student loans. Paying bills can be a big pain in the neck. You might feel like the online meme asking, “Who do I speak to about quitting adulthood?” Cedric Ngwa, a DePaul senior, isn’t giving up on adulthood yet. He keeps going and always checks his bank balance to be sure he’s up to date on his expenses. To keep spending under control and to pay bills on time he also gives himself an allowance.

“I always give myself an allowance from every paycheck,” he said. “I would say that I always put $200 together or $150 a week just to make sure that no matter what happens, I can always have money for food or anything of that nature.”

Ngwa also uses his bank smartphone application to check things on the go. Saving a little bit of money from each paycheck is a very important rule for Ngwa. He said saving a bit of money is crucial for him for potential layoffs or other emergencies.

Saving money is important, but there are other ways to maintain an income. For instance, a person can easily invest his or her money. Sid Khaitan, who is a junior at DePaul with a finance minor, thinks investment is a great thing to try — even more so at an early age.

“I actually started my first account when I was 13,” Khaitan said. “I asked my parents to give me a certain amount of money. They gave me $1,000 to $500 and I just researched companies I liked.”

To create a stock portfolio, Khaitan uses Schwab, a brokerage and banking company, where he can buy or sell stocks, but there are other companies like Robin Hood that are free.

If you don’t want to try out the stock market, that’s okay, just always try to keep in mind to save your money and pay your bills on time.

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How to adult: What you need to know before you’re really a ‘grownup’