Rule #2: Remember who you are before the world told you who to be.

Life has a funny way of coming crashing down around you at the exact moment you believe the tide was turning.

That crash reminds you just how much on the precipice you always were, and in many respects–always will be…

However, in your moment(s) of weakness, despair, and misery the veil of illusion is pulled back. You remember who you are, your purpose, and your destiny long before the world super imposed the wishes, desires, and hopes of society and conformity upon you. It is in your darkest hour you remember who you are before the world told you , who to be.

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Rule #6: Everything at one point in time was impossible.

I am going to get straight to it,  rule #6: everything at one point in time was impossible.

Some days–for example, like yesterday for me–you wake up and a task that is before you seems impossible.

As the day goes on the mere thought of even beginning the task seems momentous and unfathomable. Next thing you know, the sun rose and set and you have made no progress on a seemingly impossible task.

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Then, there are days you wake up and it feels as if you can bend the very fabric of time itself and move mountains.

I have come to realize the only difference between the two above described days is mindset.

In 1954, Roger Bannister became the first athlete to set the record for a 4-minute mile. Since then, over 1,400 athletes have broken the record.

Before Ernest Rutherford’s discovery of atom splitting in 1919, atomic energy would not be possible. Nor would Albert Einstein advancement and discovery of the theory of relativity.

From Roger Bannister to Albert Einstein, their works and contribution to their respective fields stand to show us that at one point in time what was viewed as impossible became possible. It is only through a change in attitude, mindset, and with tenacious belief and unfettered determination does impossible become I’m- Possible! 

So regardless of the day you have before you, the task that may stand in your way to completion, or the circumstances that you are presented with, remember rule #6: everything at one point in time was impossible.

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Rule #4: Self-preservation is the SUPREME law of the land!

Growing up my father told me many axioms that were self-proclaimed laws of the land, more so edicts as to how every person should live their life. As he passed down many of his edicts, they often were stored in the part of my mind that says “remember this as the person who is speaking deserves a certain carte blanche, but accept it as true at your own peril.”

However, there is one law that he imparted on me–at the time, I was recusant to accept as fact. That fact is rule #4: Self-preservation is the SUPREME law of the land! 

While later in life I would learn author,Samuel Butler set forth the very same principle– I fondly subscribe the principle to my father who learned it only through the misfortune of his adulting experience and the unkind hand that life dealt him.

In hindsight I have realized that I learned to care for others and put the needs of others before myself. While a necessity to having a functional society and ensuring continuity of human life, selfness, at first, can stand in opposition to accepting the idea of self-preservation.

Self-preservation is the principal of protecting oneself from ultimate demise–death. But in essences it is more than that. Self-preservation is the notion of guarding one’s soul from despair by giving away the key to entry to anyone and everyone; it is notion of discretion–holding back that immutable part of yourself (see rule #8); it is the notion of putting your essential needs (beyond the basics –food, sleep, etc…) for growth, development, etc.. before those of others.

While, easily confusable there is a fine line between self-preservation and being selfishness.

Selfish is when you have enough– money, time, food, insert physical item or intangible of choice– to share and their is no, or minimal emotional, physical, or psychological impact in providing another with the requested insert physical item or intangible of choice (i.e. money, a listening ear, etc..); yet you refuse to do so simple because….

Now,  if in providing your time, money, etc.. to another it will cause emotional, physical, or psychological impact beyond what you have to spare or can bare, then it is not selfish  but merely self preservation.

In understanding this rule, it became clear to me that the rule simply boils down to no one is going to look at for your best interest the way that you can. Further, while self-preservation is the SUPREME law of the land, it is one of the most difficult to accept. The notion of rule #4 requires you to sign on wholly to the idea that looking out for your interest can be done in an authentic and genuine manner; and recognizing everyone has limits, so taking action to prevent your limits from being crossed is not selfish but self-preservation. 

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Rule# 81: Forgive wholly

So yesterday, was my 28th birthday, and with the beginning of a new year–of sorts– comes new goals, new hopes, new plans, new worries—and overall newness!

However, if life has taught me one thing it is that humans have capacity levels (future rule forthcoming). When those capacity levels are reached, it is incredibly difficult to function as the best version of yourself.

I myself have found that when I am at capacity–

  • My ability to process and move on from grievances, no matter how slight, is tested and likely to fail;
  • My desire to communicate and work through issues is exhausted (see rule #2) and I match rather cast off the problem–either through avoidance or banishing it from my life–then to implore my diplomatic prowess; and
  • I have a general overall sense of continuous lethargy and defeat.

In recognizing the affects on my mind, body, and soul of reaching capacity, I am able to stymie the challenges that cause me to reach capacity. I have also learned that a challenge that plagues most of us–especially Adulting millennials– is the inability to forgive.

The inability to forgive others. To forgive past actions or missteps. Most importantly, the inability to forgive yourself.

While adulting, I have made countless missteps, mistakes, and engaged in misdeeds. Some at the time, I believed to be the best course of action. Others at the time I seen a cataclysmic end but failed to stop myself, out of sheer fear of the unknown alternative. Regardless of the reason, in the end I am left with the pain and burden of the impact I made, and the potential hurt I have caused.

The weight and burden of failure, hurt, and pain grows with each mistake, misstep, or misdeed–until finally, you are rutted in the quick sands of despair. Sinking quickly and going nowhere fast! Stuck in place only to stew over every past action you caused or that has been done to you.

Life at this point is best summed up with the adage– a watched pot is slow to boil. Stuck in the dusty recess of your minds graveyard of hurt and despair, waiting for a magically moment to happen where all of a sudden life is better and all is grand….will not come without taking a noble and powerful step on your behalf.

This step is what I have learned to do, although it has taken me 28 years to be made known, fully comprehend, internalize, and act upon it. The step is rule #81: forgive wholly!

Les Brown once said ” It doesn’t matter about the things that you’ve done, that you feel guilty about, if you wouldn’t do it today you’re convicting an innocent person.

If you have thought about it, prayed about, dreamt about it, and figured out why you did, what you did, when you did it and have determined that it was necessary thenForgive yourself !

If you have thought about, prayed about, dreamt about it, and determined that what you did, when you did it, was uncharacteristically you and you would not do it again, then forgive yourself!

If you have asked about it, thought about it, read about it, and figured out why whomever you believed did you wrong, did what they did to you, and some how you can forgive them for it then do not feel bad for forgiving yourself!

Even if you cannot for the life of you figure out why someone you thought was close to you, did what they did to you, still forgive yourself!

Most importantly, forgive yourself wholly! Everyone has a capacity level at which point you are doing yourself a disservice, and the world a displeasure!

As we are adulting we will make mistakes! Take the time to learn from your mistakes, missteps, and misdeeds and for your health, wealth, and piece of mind– forgive yourself wholly! 

Here is to being 28 and forgiving myself wholly– to all my past mistakes, past hurts, and those who hurt me– I ask for your forgiveness and I release you!

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Rule #7: Make the pain worth it!

Yesterday I celebrated my 28th birthday! Turning 28 is not seen as a pivotal birthday such as 16- because your ‘sweet’; 18- because your ‘legal’ ; and 21- because ‘all rights and privileges’ of adulthood are officially conferred upon you. However, turning 28 is, and was a major milestone; because it marks the countdown to the big 3-0.

During the final hours of my birthday my mind beginning to wonder back to previous internal monologues and soliloquies in the living room during the stale early morning hours.

Soliloquies and internal discussions in which I determined that I have to make it by 30.

Internal diatribes and out loud realizations that led me to proclaim by 30 I must—I will-– make it and that led my mind to quickly begin to bombard my chest with questions causing me to feel as if the walls were closing in around me.

What exactly does it mean to make it ? 

What exactly is the destination to which I have determined I must arrive?

How will I get it there?

Do I have it in me to make the journey?

What is the it that I need to have in order to make the journey?

With the recognition of every question came another question. Few answers were made known but more questions arose….And within in instance, I was capitulated by fear…frozen…and it all boiled down to one essential question ” what will the next 28 years of my life look like? and how will I get there?”  (Ok, so that is two essential questions!)

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After a semi-brief panic attack and moment of paralyzing fear, I stilled my mind and brought focus to the fact that over the past 28 years, I have achieved a number of accomplishments, triumphant successes, and survival frets. Some shared by most humans and others unique to my life’s journey.

From learning to walk to learning to read.

From being the first person in my immediate family to earn not only a bachelor’s degree but a master’s and then a law degree.

From being entranced and in love with policy and politics to having the privilege to work in local government and help my community achieve long sort after policy goals.

No matter how small or great the fret, the thought of past successes only stand as a testament of the power of continued effort and determination. In this moment, and during the final hours of my birthday, it is when I realized rule# 7: make the pain worth it. 

Life will continue to dole out your fair share, and sometimes seemingly unjustified-unfair share, of struggle, burdens, and failures.  These struggles, burdens, and failures can leave you at a loss of words and at times at a loss of direction. However, take solace in the victories you have achieved, the skills you do have, the knowledge you do know, the connections you have made, and the fact that nothing is irrevocable except the willing capitulation to the status quo!

In short, keep going, keep striving, and make the pain worth it!

Follow me on twitter @AoAMillennial.


Rule #8: Always hold something back!

I can tell you a thousand things about me but, I will always hold onto one.

I can tell you a thousand things about me but, their always must be something that separates us–one from another.

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My journey as an Adulting millennial-like many–has not been easy. Learning, tussling, and often losing sleep over the tortious task of discernment between what oft seems as to mutually exclusive counter-weights.

Transparency and Discretion.

Openness and Reservation.

Friends and Associates. 

True Progress and In-place stagnation. 

In my struggle, I have learned many lessons in the tug-of-war of competing interest:

Transparency and Discretion.

Not sharing enough of yourself and people find it hard to relate to you; society stops seeing you as human and begins viewing you as alien. Conversely, share to much of yourself and you are either ostracized for being an oversharer or being seen as unable to keep a secret.

Openness and Reservation.

If you are too open, society gazes upon you in question of your genuineness and authenticity. Seeking to determine what may be the nature and purpose of your openness. On the flip side, if you are too reserved then you are viewed as weak and lack the grit to get ahead.

Friends and Associates. 

Similar goals, similar hopes, similar dreams, similar backgrounds, similar struggles. Friend or associate? The fine line of between being friend and being an associate is one that differs for each person. Requiring careful introspection to determine the values, duties, and obligations of friendship–undying loyalty? truth above all else? agreement even in light of heartfelt concern? Whatever your criteria is for friendship, know them and examine your relationships in light of them. If you do not know them, spend the time figuring them out.

True Progress and In-place stagnation. 

There will come a time when you question, have you made true progress or simple kept your self busy resulting in-in place stagnation? Figuring out if the task you completed, the day that is closing out, the job you are working is moving you closer to your life’s purpose, your divine calling is a never ending task…

But one that is learned only by thoughtful reflection and continuous action( see rule #1). 

Above all, what I have learned is that life is a continuous transition from one stage or phase into another–the moment you feel you are getting the hold of things is the very same instance in which things change. During these transitions we are always learning new ways to balance competing values, interest, and objectives; we are always being given new values, interest, and objectives to balance; and if we take the time, we should always be learning more about the world and ourselves.

While these transitions are occurring and balancing is being learned, it is important to remember rule #8: Always hold something backNot because you seek to be untrustworthy, disingenuous, or unrelatable but because during your life’s transitions and balancing acts you are in a vulnerable and malleable state. The scared part of you, the essence of your personhood–the very part of you that is inexplicably linked to the very unique spark that pulsates through you in giving you life– must be protected. Protected so that is nurtured, groomed, weeded, disciplined, and developed in a way that allows you to reach the true masterdom of your character and personhood without being broken or destroyed by the vicissitudes of life and sometimes evil perils of people.

Rule #2: Most of working (or dealing) with others comes down to communication. (Alternatively: all relationships come down to communication(even the crap-tastic ones).

Have you ever been sick ? Or better yet, lets’ start with the question– have you ever had a sick friend, partner, sibling, or anyone that you care about ?

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When they are sick, you pull out all the stops that you can think of:

  • giving them quietness to rest,
  • above average check-in’s to see if they are still breathing (no really, but kind of really),
  • even if you are really T-Oed with this person, putting on the sweet “how are you doing? do you need anything voice”,

and the list goes on. No request is too big and you are willing to pull out all the stops you can think up.

Days later…your loved one has recovered and you are back to being your sassy and witty yourself (or maybe that is just me!).

Days go speed by, the weeks roll on, and a few months later–it is your turn to be sick. However, now when are sick and infirmed the same care, concern, and prioritization you gave in the not so distant past is amiss!

That is not to say you are not being cared for or checked-in on. But, something… you cannot quite put your finger on is missing.

Now, you are sick but you have to provide what seems to be play-by-play instructions…

  • Can you get Alevee from the pharmacy?
  • While you are out can you grab some green tea?
  • Please make sure payment is remitted for the rent? (truth be told, I do not go around saying “be sure to remit payment for (insert x thing needing payment) this just seemed like an opportune time to use the word remit).

While trying to hold onto the precipice of life, you are now also stuck giving 50,000,000 instructions for what you believe are self-explanatory and straightforward task.

PAUSE. PUMP YOUR BREAKS! ( if you are reading this while driving, do not pump your breaks unless there has been a loss of pressure.)

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The fact is.. we often don’t communicate as well as we think!

Often times we imply what we thought we expressly stated.

We express what we assume is unknown.

And we do what we knows needs to be done.

But when it comes time to turn over the task to someone else, we have not communicated no where near as much as we are THINKING.

Which brings us to rule #2: most of working (or dealing) with others comes down to communication. Stated different all relationships come down to communication (even the crap-tastic ones) . So here are some quick answers to questions you may often think to yourself (questions not included):

  • No– your loved one does not know that it hurts to think and you need them to step up and take care of task with little input from you.
  • No– your supervisor does not know that they cannot talk to you any old way.
    • Yes, your supervisor may be out of their mother loving mind
  • Yes– you may very well be pissed off about something and not know what it is… But it is your duty to figure it out, report it out to those that need to be communicated with, and work it out

Stay tuned for a follow up to rule #2… Notice, I said “most of working (or dealing) with others…” As a sneak preview — rule #3 deals with what to do when it is not you but it’s them!

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Rule #1: You are born, life is tough, you die! (simply state: life is hard!)

When I was younger, I believed life was not hard but we, as in people, made it difficult. I still believe this is the case. However, while Adulting, at some point in time, I realized life really was…is…hard!

It’s hard for several reasons, in millennial bulleted fashion:

  1. there is always something you don’t know
  2. there is always something you don’t know that you don’t know
  3. there is always someone who has nothing better to do than to concern themselves with what you are doing, why you are doing it, and when you are doing it
  4. at some point in time you are likely to suffer, or are suffering from the disease known as more (where what you have is never enough and you want more)
  5. at some point in time you are bound to fall asleep behind the wheel, and when you wake up your life has been side-tracked–and you are not quite sure how to get it back on track
  6. the pain of believed sunken cost will consume you (i.e. I have already spent 3 years of my life as an English major, why change now– by the way I was a poli sci major, this is truly an example)
  7. sometimes life is plain and simple difficult and you do not know why
  8. Bullsh*t rolls down hill
  9. if you were born into a financially challenged family (because broke and poor are words that should be used sparingly) it may seem like you are in a never ending press to get ahead or if you were born into a family of comfortable means are always trying to escape the privilege or shadow of those means (so I’m told, I still am working on arriving)
  10. As your mom told you when you were younger, simply because….

Regardless of the reason accept that life is hard but never let it stop you from being even tougher. Roll with the punches, and when the opportunity presents itself, or you make the opportunity–throw a few blows back!

Rule #1: Life is hard…so deal! 

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Rule #72: When giving a f*ck is too much work…don’t!

On the Adulting journey, some days you wake up with little to no cares.  Your general disposition, attitude, and psyche can be summed up with this face:


Some how you need to still pull yourself: (1) out of bed; (2) brush your teeth; (3) take a shower; (4) get dressed; (5) get to your destination; and then (6) interact with your colleagues, friends, associates, and strangers…. But wait, as if that did not call for all the effort and energy you already do not have, you need to interact with others with a smile, or at least some feigned interest, care, and concern.

Meanwhile, your mind is going about as fast as the pour-over cup of coffee you are making (assuming you were able to afford coffee that month–who am I kidding, you are always able to afford coffee, maybe not food, but definitely coffee) scrambling with the real important questions of the day:

What’s for dinner?

If I pack everything up right now and move back home, am I failure or am I being financially prudent?

Hmmm, as to that last question, what is the difference between begin a failure and having failed?

Oh, Sugar, Honey, Iced, Tea—I forgot to lock the door! Wait, I did lock the door(phew!)

…Wait, did I lock the door?! Oh, yeah, I did !(at least that’s what I am going to tell myself because I simply cannot deal with anymore disappointment and not locking the door may very well break me right now)

Will I be able to pay my rent, car payment, utilities, and buy food this month?… Oh shot, I will– God is shinning down on me this month!!

After being side-tracked by contemplating real issues, you are snapped back to the misery of the day by some overzealous colleague, customer, client, stranger–person–needing something. A lot more something then you have to give.

At which point you scrounge up every bit of the little energy you have, to provide to the best of your ability a thorough and pleasant response. This act continues person-after-person, hour-after-hour, until your day comes to an end.

Finally, you gather your belongs, the remainder of your energy, wit, and mental capacity and shuffle off to your next destination…and finally home!

At long last you reach home…but wait, you have no energy to read the magazine article you planned to read, work on what you are sure will be the next great American novel, or paint a portrait that would put Da Vinci to shame. The endeavors you know some how in your soul will turn your situation around–reading that article will unlock the financial plan that will have you retire a millionaire at 30, or writing that novel will turn you into the next Stephen King.

So, rule #72: when giving a f*ck is too much work, don’t!Use this rule with caution– sometimes you have to pull yourself through the day, but remember always save a little energy for yourself and your own endeavors.

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Wholly cr*p, I’m an adult! Is this really it?!

Soooo, is it just me or did one day you fully felt the weight, responsibility, and gnawing feeling of adult-hood hit you like a runaway train?

Then… shortly, after you were saddened. As you begin to think about it, your conversation with yourself went something like this (at least this is how mines went, or at least something similar ):

” Wholly sh*t, I am about to be 30 in three years?”

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Then I begin to think about my bank account…then I took a look at my bank account, my student loan bills, and then a deep introspective examination of my life and said,

“Oh, wholly sh*t, I am about to be 30 in three years?”

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Following, the second pronounced and exclaimed “oh, wholly sh*t…” I begin to spiral into a depressive descent. Wondering and questioning,

“when did I get here?” (the proverbial “here” as in this juncture in my life)

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“Is this how 27 is suppose to be look?”

Because it most certainly is not what I had in mind. I was thinking 27 would be more like the male equivalent of Jennifer Garner’s ” 13 going on 30″– I was suppose to be on track to being 30, forget flirty, but thriving.

Next, I did what most people would do in my position (at least that is what I told myself), I had a good boo hoo! Full on man tears ( of course, I kept it classy (at least that is how I am choosing to tell it; nonetheless, there were full on man tears)


Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

Finally, I did what any self-respecting, millennial would do… I got mad and decided to take to social media… In actuality, I took some time to come up with a plan and chart a path forward, so that my next 27 years look as great as I know they will be.

After planning, I realized how many millennial’s out there are on the #StruggleBus (yes, I know the term is played out but let’s get real it precisely describes the millennial struggle). We are out here with big ideas, little guidance, a lot of resistance, and at times…what feels like diminishing hope.

So The Art of the Adulting Millennial was born. A guidebook to navigating the road between whatever you call post adolescences/ teenage-hood and becoming a full on “Adult” (whatever that means, because their definitely seems to be a low supply of good examples).  I will discuss life lessons/rules for making it on the journey of Adulting.

Feel free to drop me a line, comment with your Adulting journey stories, and follow me on twitter @AoAMillennial