Dr. Adam Avitable knows all.

Are you 25 or older? Time to grow up.

Over at one of my favorite new blogs, I read about a great post from 2005 outlining 20 rules for people to start following once they turn 25. As the original author says:

If you have reached the age of 25, I have a bit of bad news for you, to wit: it is time, if you have not already done so, for you to emerge from your cocoon of post-adolescent dithering and self-absorption and join the rest of us in the world. Past the quarter-century mark, you see, certain actions, attitudes, and behaviors will simply no longer do, and while it might seem unpleasant to feign a maturity and solicitousness towards others that you may not genuinely feel, it is not only appreciated by others but necessary for your continued survival. Continuing to insist past that point that good manners, thoughtfulness, and grooming oppress you in some way is inappropriate and irritating.

Her original rules are below (read the post for her explanations):

  1. Remember to write thank-you notes.
  2. Do not invite yourself to stay with friends when you travel anymore.
  3. Do not expect friends to help you move anymore.
  4. Develop a physical awareness of your surroundings.
  5. Be on time.
  6. Have enough money.
  7. Know how to calculate the tip.
  8. Do not share the crazy dream you had last night with anyone but your mental wellness professional.
  9. Learn to walk in heels (men get a pass).
  10. Have at least one good dress-up outfit.
  11. Do as invitations ask you.
  12. Know how.
  13. Don’t use your friends.
  14. Have something to talk about besides college or your job.
  15. Give and receive favors graciously.
  16. Drinking until you throw up is no longer properly a point of pride.
  17. Have a real trash receptacle, real Kleenex, and, if you smoke, a real ashtray.
  18. Universal quiet hours do in fact apply to you.
  19. Take care of yourself.
  20. Rudeness is not a signifier of your importance.

And here are my contributions:

  1. Be aware of your hygiene. If you don’t shower, you will stink. If you don’t brush your teeth, you will have bad breath. If you wear the same clothes without washing them, people will notice. Wash your hands, wash your face, brush your teeth, and use deodorant. If you smoke, drink a lot of coffee or red wine you’ll need to learn how to whiten your teeth.
  2. Have a plan. You don’t have to have your entire life planned out – anyone who does that is setting themselves up for disappointment. But have some general idea of where your life is going. Do you want to own a house? Did you buy a TV with no interest for three years? Is your job something you want to do forever? At least try to come up with some broad strokes – you can always change them, but it’s good to have a basic road map.
  3. Understand the value of a work ethic. It’s no longer funny to think that you’re awesome because you take advantage of your boss, slack off at work, do a sub-standard job, or otherwise abuse the resources of the place that provides you with a steady paycheck. If your job starts at 9, you should be walking in the door at nine at the latest. If you haven’t figured out the value of doing a job well for the sake of doing it, now’s the time.
  4. Be your own person around your parents. You’re too old to act like a juvenile around your parents, whether that means that you’re sullen, you hate them, or you do whatever they say. You’re an adult. Your parents are also adults. They’re also human, which means they’re not perfect. It’s okay to have your own opinions, but don’t blame them for your current situation either.
  5. Throw away socks and underwear with holes in them. Okay, I’m still guilty of having the occasional pair of socks or manties with holes in them, but I’ve finally reached the point where I throw them away whenever I see them. And if I can do it, so can you.
  6. Know how (expanding on hers). Know how to… Open a bottle of wine. Cook one or two basic meals. Apologize. Accept an apology. Do laundry. Load a dishwasher. Write a thank you letter. Tie a tie. Make hotel reservations. Use your silverware. Defend from a ninja attack. Wake up at 8 AM, or 7 AM, or 6 AM – these are normal wake up times for most adults.
  7. Know why you have the opinions you have. You’re past the age when “My parents say” or “Bill O’Reilly says” or “Keith Olbermann says” is a valid reason for your opinion. If you don’t know why you have an opinion about a topic, you don’t actually have an opinion about a topic. You have parroted rhetoric.
  8. Accept responsibility for your actions. It’s not okay to blame everyone else for the suckfest that is your life. If you get pulled over for speeding, you get a ticket. Be willing to take it – the cop is not a prick for catching you when you violated the law. If you talk about your friends behind their backs and they find out about it and cut you out of their lives, take a look at how you live your life and grow up. Sometimes things happen over which you have no control. Pick up and move on. Taking the time to blame every person that you think is involved does nothing but make you look like a child.
  9. Don’t drown yourself in cologne/perfume. One splash. One or two spritzes. That’s it. If you can taste it, you’re wearing too much.
  10. Know your limits. If you have to get up at 8 AM and go to work tomorrow, don’t drink until you pass out. Part of being an adult is knowing your limits and making the mature decision to stay within them. And if you decide that this one night you’re not going to pay attention to your limits? That’s okay, but see #8.
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101 Replies to “Are you 25 or older? Time to grow up.”

  1. Maddie Marie

    i read the title of the post, realized i was 22, and decided to skip it.
    just kidding.
    i agree with pretty much everything that you said. also? pay your own damn bills….and parents of people who are over 25? cut your children off!
    that’s all.
    the end.

  2. fiwa

    This is going to be one of those things like with driving – everyone thinks THEY are good at it and everyone else sucks. But I do know a few people who could stand to read your list. I have a friend who abuses rule number 9 so much that the passenger side seat belt in my car permanently smells like her perfume now. Most of these could be summed up in two words. Personal responsibility.

    Good post.

  3. Headless Mom

    #3-YES! And to those of my generation who are helicopter parents? Stop now because your children will never understand #3 if you don’t.

    Sorry it’s a little off topic but it’s been on my mind lately.

    • Avitable

      @Headless Mom, there are two different ways that people treat their parents that I find fault with. One is to act like a sullen teenager instead of an adult, but the other is definitely a result of helicopter parenting – when the adult child thinks his or her parents are completely infallible and does whatever they say without thinking about it. Huge issue.

  4. Blondefabulous

    This would have been an awesome commencement speech at a college graduation. Let them know what the world expects of them in the next couple of years.

    Funny, I wrote about work ethic in my post too. Namely how someone with a huge responsibility who should have one, doesn’t. Maybe I should print this entire thing out for her. I imagine she could use a few of the other entries.

  5. Kristen

    Found you and this post through a friend’s shared items on Google Reader. Having just turned 40, I can’t believe that there are people who need to be told this at 25! My child is on the verge of turning 10 and I’ve instilled most of these in him, as well as the “why”s. Granted, he has yet to approach the “drinking until you throw up” point but he knows the elements of a good thank-you note and the importance of personal responsibility. Esquire magazine just ran an article about the age at which you should transition into certain phases – like when to buy a good suit or switch from movie posters into collecting art – but I hadn’t thought these basic lessons were necessary.

    I guess I’m glad there’s someone out there telling the rest of them. You only rent your place in the world; make it worthwhile.

  6. muskrat

    I like that blog, too…I think I found it via your twitter stream.
    Esquire magazine had a list similar to this a while back. What’s funny (and sad) is that a lot of what’s encouraged and expected of adults at 25 (particularly men) used to be expected at a much younger age, like 18 or 20. Of course, this was before “adultescence” became the norm with Gen Y (aka “the boomerang generation” as they move back in with parents after school). I wonder if we won’t expect these behaviors until 30 in a few more years. Let’s hope not. You, Deb, and I will be hiring these people before long!

      • muskrat

        @Avitable, PS…re #3, I decided when I was 25 that I was too old to help people move, so I quit asking others for help and started offering cash when others would ask (which usually made them feel guilty, so they’d refuse it). My last move cost <$300 even with a tip (in 2004). I'd gladly pay that over helping someone move!

  7. Vanessa

    Just turned 26 this past March. And boy, you couldn’t be more dead on. Even though, a majority of that list applies to every adult, there are still a few, like blaming others, that I’m trying to work on. I guess seeing it written out in words kind of gives me that “Ohhhh” moment. It’s all that stupid shit you hold on to and blame others, but if you just let it go and own up to whatever you’ve gotten yourself into, you’ll come out a much better adult.

    Yep, I definately rambled. My bad.
    Thank you for sharing. And helping me grow up a little more.

  8. Krëg


    Doesn’t your header say Tact Is For Pussies? Because this list fell straight out of a vagina.

    I’m not sure if that list is too constrained or not detailed enough. Or perhaps both. Either way it is ridiculous. Half of it seems torn from some 50s book like “Manners In Polite Society” and most of the rest is just common sense. Further, the bulk of these appear to be rules for pleasing others, not for achieving personal or unique growth. Conformity may be great for other nations, but Americans have a reputation as loudmouthed, hard-drinking blowhards that must be constantly cultivated and maintained, and this… Wait a second… Was this list written by an aristocratic British woman?

    This list of rules is a recipe for mediocrity: How to make another YUPPIE. I can’t think of ANY of my personal heroes that adhered strictly to ALL of those rules. Eccentric people are the spice of life, and no reputation for greatness ever came solely from having real Kleenex. When I think of some of the more noteworthy or notorious historical figures, almost all of them disrespected “Universal quiet hours”. Quite a few of them were horrible drunks. I suspect very few of them wrote thank-you letters. And NONE of them toiled away in vanilla-flavored obscurity, trying to fit in with the rest of their communities. Homogeneity blows, and history knows that.

    That whole list can suck my dick. Don’t tell me how to live my life. And don’t write presumptuous and condescending lists that treat the reader like five-year-old mouth-breathing imbecile. I realize that life is full of douches, and sometimes those fuckers make people want to make a list classifying what they feel are shortcomings in others, but lighten the fuck up already. Almost NONE of the things on that list are critical to leading a happy life. I hope life lowers the boom slightly on whomever wrote that original list (but not you man), bringing humbleness and perspective about what is truly important in life. Because it sure as shit isn’t “Know(ing) how to calculate the tip”.

    I do like your #7 though. THAT is solid advice.

    • Avitable

      @Krëg, yeah, you’re wrong.

      Knowing how to calculate the tip has nothing to do with polite society or being a yuppie and everything to do with being an adult. In fact, labeling something as “yuppie” is a good example of someone who needs to rebel just to rebel.

      I don’t know who your personal heroes are, but eccentric people also barely took care of themselves. Look at Poe or Van Gogh – these people were barely functioning members of society.

      If the reader doesn’t know how to do these things, they might be an imbecile. These are normal things that anyone should be able to do.

      The list has NOTHING to do with leading a happy life – this is how to lead a life of an adult. Those two things can be the same thing, but if being a loudmouthed blowhard and a horrible drunk is what someone needs to be happy, that just smacks of immaturity.

  9. Clown

    Yeah… I didn’t really care for this.
    I don’t agree with much of what Krëg said but I do kind of think the lists as a whole are kind of douchey… I actually agree with the ideas in there, just not the fact that they are presented.

    I reallllly hate expectations like this. But remember, as a general rule, I dislike humanity. I would rather be pleasantly surprised when people show off positive traits than disappointed when they show they can’t do something like properly tip a server or show their appreciation.

    As a note, I am also getting a kick out of this post considering the tagline to your blog.

  10. Nancy

    I would add “Accept the consequences for your choices and actions” to your list. I’m tired of listening to people whine about how their relationships suck, how they have no money, how their kids hate them, etc. when they’re spouting off about how much time and money they’re spending on clothes, shoes and vacations and how they love hanging out with their pals, etc. Realizing that choices have consequences and then making better choices is a part of growing up. By the time you hit 25, you should have that figured out.

    Oh hell. I’m pushing 40 soon and I STILL have issues with that one. Who the fuck am I kidding?

  11. Mari

    I *get* this. I do.
    There was just one important thing missed: clean your effing house! Especially your bathroom. Scummy toilets? Sinks? Get some bloody chemicals. Just because you shower (hopefully with soap) everyday – that does NOT mean your shower is clean.
    Maybe even run something to get the smell out of the garbage disposal.

  12. Darla

    Adam out of all of the things I’ve seen you write, I have to say this one made me sit up a bit straighter, think about what is in my life, while reaching for a REAL kleenex and setting my alarm clock back to 6:30 instead of 7 so I don’t feel like quite the slacker I was starting to feel like.

    I wish I could say I mastered your entire list but there are a couple on there that I’m sure I could amp up on and I plan to do so, now that it has been presented to me once again (because we all know we are a work in progress and this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve heard it; we just happen to be in a different place in life).

    Thanks for taking the time to care about us enough to put “it” out there. I know I needed to have a “grow the hell up” moment more than one time this week already.

  13. Darla

    And I just printed it out. I am going to study this every day until I get it down pat. Maybe add a couple of my own as I go along, but this is a great start. Thanks again Adam!!!

  14. mountainmomma18

    I totally agree with these rules- but I would also add that these rules should also apply to you as soon as you have a child. I don’t want to be “that mom” but seriously. I had a crazy nomadic life when I was in my early 20’s- but the only person I was responsible for was me. Just my two cents.

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