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A list of things I don’t know how to do as an adult

| Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Kerry Schneeman | The Observer

In the midst of my existential crisis as a soon-to-be Notre Dame alumnus with no concrete plan regarding the rest of my life, I have decided to place myself in a state of more dread and anxiety by highlighting the skills that I have yet to master as an adult. Though I live with the comfort that many of my peers also lack some of the seemingly necessary developments of being functional members of society, I am constantly reminded that the time for me to master these skills is quickly approaching, and a comprehensive textbook for adulting does not exist. So, I present to you a list of the things I don’t know how to do but which are seemingly paramount to a successful life experience, put together by some pals and I.

1. File taxes

While I understand the importance of paying taxes for the betterment of our community, the concept of paying them completely confuses me. Is there a form I can print, fill out and mail to the government? Apparently if you don’t fill it out properly, you have committed tax evasion, which you can go to prison for. Those scam calls I get from the IRS will become real calls, and I can’t imagine how aggressive they’ll be when they’ve actually reached a person who is actually committing a felony. Instead of making the process so tedious and confusing, why can’t they just email me how much I owe and I’ll Venmo them within a week?

2. Open a bank account

My parents opened my bank account back in high school, and it was simply for saving the few dollars I earned working at my summer job and the birthday money I received from my relatives. A simple checking account will no longer suffice for my adulting needs; I’m going to need several different places to hold money so that I know what to pay when, and no one’s ever told me how I go about that task. Do I just call up Fifth Third and ask them to open up another manila folder under my name? How does compound interest work again, and why isn’t it making my bank account swell like the practice problems we did in Algebra 2?

3. Buy insurance

The concept of insurance boggles my mind. There’s secret money at an organization that I can use if bad things happen, but then I have to pay for it anyway in the long run? God forbid something tragic happens to me and I don’t have health insurance; am I simply left to suffer with my injuries if I can’t afford it? Finding out which policy is best for you can’t be as easy as the Progressive commercials make it seem; they don’t just come in boxes you can pull off the shelf and ring up at the counter with Flo. 

4. Not get scammed by the auto repair people because I’m a woman and don’t know how to change my oil

I can’t live the rest of my life standing outside the car dealership awkwardly calling my dad to ask if I really need new brake pads and an alternator during my regularly scheduled oil change. My dad intelligently did teach me how to change my own tires, but what happens when the car starts making funky noises and the dealership tells me I need a new engine when I really just need coolant? Does Hank Green have a crash course on car anatomy so I don’t get cheated out of thousands of dollars that I don’t have?

5. Send things to dry cleaning

My laundry routine consists of throwing things in the washer, chucking some detergent in there and hoping nothing changes colors. What do they even do at “dry cleaning”? How do you stop sweaters from pilling and why do white things turn yellow when you bleach them? I didn’t tell it to do that; that’s the whole reason I put bleach in there: So it doesn’t change colors.

6. Find a good doctor

We were all set up with pediatricians and various other specialists by our parents to look after our health, but now I have to find doctors on my own for my medical needs. Is there a doctors.com website I can sift through and find one that best suits me? As a Black woman, how do I ensure that my doctor will be intentional about my concerns, and won’t gaslight me into thinking my bodily pain is an over-exaggeration? Don’t even get me started on the horror stories I’ve heard about pregnant women and their concerns with medical staff.

7. Parallel parking

The cone activity in the drivers test may have simulated this daunting task, but under the pressure of the parked, unnaturally close cars you’re supposed to squeeze between, parallel parking is an exceptional feat. The crippling embarrassment you feel as you repeatedly switch the car from drive to reverse and back again in order to not hit the vehicles in front of you, behind you and driving in the next lane almost hinders you from completing the task all together. Do you give up and park a mile from your destination? Do you risk getting your side mirror clipped? Why does every adult activity commence in spaces with no parking lots?

This list is completely and utterly not exhaustive; there are so many other activities, concrete and relative, that I will need to figure out within the next 8 months, yet my current, most pressing tasks involve writing papers and filling my resume. What buttons do I press in that mysterious grey box when one “blows a fuse”? Why do I need to rotate my tires? They’re tires … that’s their job. How do I keep my composure if I get in a car accident and someone tries to blame me for it? For now, the answers are I don’t know, but hopefully I’ll find a YouTube video on these subjects soon.

Sydni Brooks is a senior studying English and gender studies. She hopes to continue her work in writing and editing in her career while advocating for women’s health issues. She can be reached through her email [email protected] or @sydnimaree22 on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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