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How To Adult, According To Popular Opinion

Adults pay their own bills, hold steady jobs, and don't live with their parents, according to a new poll provided to BuzzFeed News. Flossing is optional.

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It's unclear when the concept of "adulting" emerged but it's now undeniably a thing. And now pollsters have begun to figure out exactly what adulting means to Americans.

First and foremost, according a national Ipsos poll that asked what you need to do to be classified as a legit adult, you need to pay your own bills. Among the respondents, 76% of 18- to 34-year olds listed that as a must-do, as did 81% of people over 55.

A few other things were widely considered adult necessities across all age groups: moving out of your parents' place, having a job, and doing your own laundry.

Q. In your opinion, which of the following must you do or have to be considered an adult?

Ipsos

Numbers via an Ipsos poll of 1,005 U.S. adults in early April. For more on Ipsos methodology, see here.

But there is also plenty of disagreement between young and old. The over-55 set were almost 20 percentage points more likely to list not getting financial help from your parents as a core adult trait. Young people, burdened by an unprecedented mountain of student debt and facing wages that have barely grown in decades, think otherwise.

And under-35s, who've come of age in a culture obsessed with food, were almost ten points more likely than over-55s to list regularly cooking your own meals as an important adult trait.

But there are also some things would-be adults everywhere can safely disregard, according to the poll. Just 18% of respondents said daily flossing was a key habit, and only 16% listed "getting a flu shot every winter." About 19% listed donating to charity.

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Chris Jackson, the pollster who conducted the survey and who describes himself as a Gen X-er, said his team of eight is entirely millennials. In developing the survey, they tried to get a handle on what the more nebulous aspects of adulthood in America might be — things like financial independence, caring for one's own health, hosting holidays, and having your own Netflix password.

"From what I understand now, 'adulting' is less about the legal obligations — voting or serving in the military — and more about these other expectations and responsibilities," Jackson said. "But you should tell me."

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Other perspectives on this story

Outside Your Bubble is a BuzzFeed News effort to bring you a diversity of thought and opinion from around the internet. If you don’t see your viewpoint represented, contact the curator at bubble@buzzfeed.com. Click here for more on Outside Your Bubble.

Cora Lewis is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Lewis reports on labor.

Contact Cora Lewis at cora.lewis@buzzfeed.com.

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