I work in an office, which means the people I commute with and work with are technically adults, and presumably identify as adults.
And yet, I look around myself some days, and wonder.
There are definite signs that these people—people who are old enough to drink, vote, and enter into legally-binding contracts—are maybe not quite as grown-up as they pretend to be. Here are a few things you might want to avoid if you’re hoping to be taken seriously as a grown-ass person:
Dangly Things on Your Backpack
Backpacks can prevent lower back problems caused by the uneven distribution of weight across the shoulders. Because of these health benefits, one can carry a backpack and still be considered an adult, as long as the backpack material is a solid color, or some sort of tasteful abstract pattern.
While a backpack itself isn’t necessarily a problem, all that shit you’ve got hanging off of it is. A rabbit’s foot, fourteen LEGO-figure keychains, and a plastic troll are fine—if you’ve got History first period. However, you need to ask yourself the following three questions:
1) Do you have an IRA?
2) Does your refrigerator contain actual food, not just beer and empty pizza boxes?
3) Are you old enough to require an annual mammogram or prostate exam?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you need to get all that plastic shit off your backpack right away.
Using “LOL” in a Sentence
Fifteen years ago, “LOL” was what you typed into AOL Instant Messenger when you couldn’t think of any other way to respond to a message you’d just received. It was pointless filler, the electronic version of saying, “Yeah,” while laughing slightly, the way one does when a statement requires no significant response. But now there are people for whom written communication consists of little more than “LOL” and various strings of emoticons.
The use of “LOL” should be limited to fourteen-year-old girls, and even they should be forced to expunge it from their electronic vocabularies upon graduation from high school. After that, using “LOL” in comments, Tweets, or Facebook posts should result in permanent expulsion from polite society, as well as an immediate ban from all social media. And using it in professional communication should be grounds for termination. Nothing says “I’m probably vapid and definitely a bit linguistically-challenged” more convincingly than the use of “LOL” in a work e-mail.
Going Crazy with the Neon
Neon is back, and while it’s tempting to try and relive your middle school years by wearing a neon-patterned shirt with neon sunglasses, socks, and sneakers, you need to lay off that shit. Fluorescent orange is a good color for highlighters, traffic cones, and nothing else.
Even in workout gear, one should exercise restraint. If your sneakers are electric teal, consider more neutral colors for the rest of your ensemble—black, white, and grey. Otherwise you’re going to look as though you woke up and thought, “My goal today is to sear the retinas off of every person I come in contact with.” And that’s not something an adult does.
Using Comic Sans
People use Comic Sans because they think it is lighthearted and fun. A border of pink circus elephants is also lighthearted and fun, but that doesn’t make it appropriate to slap one on every document from an annual report to a sign directing people to the extra copy paper. This one is dead simple: adults don’t use Comic Sans.
Saying “Bye Bye” When You End a Call
Only say “bye bye” when you’re talking to your three-year-old, and even then, I would urge you to consider your child’s future. It’s a good bet you will never hear Helen Mirren, Warren Buffett, or the CEO of General Motors end a conference call with “bye bye.” You shouldn’t either.
Being an adult isn’t always easy, but it’s easier to project an adult image if you adhere to these few simple rules. No one wants to think that the people around them might be questioning their maturity. Don’t give them a reason to question yours.