There is a word that has come to be part of our everyday vocabulary: adulting. There are memes devoted to it, clothing that says it, and I’m pretty sure it’s been added to the dictionary by now, or will be soon.
If you’re unsure of what this phrase means, basically it is doing the everyday tasks required to live on your own and be a functioning adult in society. This includes shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. As long as you’re in an ok situation financially, this seems like it should be pretty basic right?
And as someone who is “high-functioning,” that’s exactly what I thought too. I mean, after all, I did pretty well in school and wasn’t even diagnosed until I was an adult, so I’ve got this whole life thing down.
Except, I didn’t have it down, and still don’t. You see, as someone with autism, me and adulting aren’t the best of friends. Sure, it can be hard for everyone sometimes, and I don’t dispute that at all.
But, I have it extra hard in that my disability brings with it the challenges of executive functioning. Basically, that means trying to keep on track of all of the things that I need to, like deadlines, bills, even household chores, is too much for my brain sometimes.
It’s not that I want bills to go unpaid, work deadlines to be missed, or my house to be a mess. I actually think of myself as somewhat of a minimalist (more on that another day…), so simplicity and having everything in order is a goal of mine. But, alas, my brain has other plans sometimes…
The best way I can describe it is that my brain is like an internet browser with lots of tabs open, each representing something I need to do. The more tabs I have, the harder it is for me to get stuff done and the more likely it is for something to get overlooked or completely forgotten.
So, what do I do? Well, sometimes, I do what an Apple Genius tells me to do when my MacBook shows the spinning wheel of death—shut down, wait, and restart. Now, obviously I’m not a computer and can’t do this literally, so basically I do something fun and mindless, like watch tv or take my dog for a walk. Then, when my brain can handle it (something I just know I’m ready for, if that makes sense), I plug back in and get to work.
Another trick is to break down what seem to be large tasks, no matter how simple or small they actually are, into what I feel are manageable chunks. That might mean that instead of cleaning my whole apartment, I just do the dishes. Instead of putting away all my laundry, just the shirts get hung up. Instead of getting all my bills set up and paid, I take care of the most important one. Instead of cooking all my meals for the week, I…well, you get the idea, right?
If you are autistic, don’t feel badly if you still struggle with adulting. Even with these tricks, some days are just all but impossible to get through and the biggest accomplishment is surviving. If you take care of someone who’s autistic, keep this in mind too.
What are your tools to help you “adult” better, especially if you have autism like me? I’d love to hear from you, and thanks for reading!