How to be an adult AND get treated like one

An excerpt from the introduction of my new book, Grow the F*ck up.

sarah knight
7 min readFeb 7, 2023

One cool thing about being an adult is that it is THE single common goal shared by every baby ever born, which means we are truly all in this together.

And even cooler? Everyone you know is rooting for you to rock it.

Your parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches have always wanted to see you thrive, and your friends have been cheering from the sidelines as you hit grownup milestones together — from getting driver’s licenses and jobs to potentially coupling up and settling down, to one day maybe watching your own kids rock it together too. (Or if you’re like me, watching your friends’ kids from afar, while you sip a margarita at the adults-only pool.)

It’s exciting stuff, growing up!

It can also be intimidating, given that gaining entry to the land of adult privileges and beverages requires you to be able to think for yourself and support yourself and take care of yourself largely independent of the network that carried you this far. It’s not like those folks will spontaneously combust the day you legally divest from childhood, but they’ve got plenty of their own exciting/intimidating stuff to deal with, so at a certain point you’ve got to get comfortable handling your grownup shit your grownup self.

And it works both ways — as much as your loved ones want YOU to be stable and happy and on time for dinner, you want the same for (and from) them. Your coworkers depend on you to pull your weight, and you, theirs. Your neighbors look to you to be a respectful member of the community, and you, right back at ’em. And the person working the deli counter during the lunch rush sure would appreciate it if you know your order when you get to the front of the line — just like you’ll appreciate it when they get your sandwich right.

Like I said, we’re all in this together, so we ALL benefit from leading by example.

GROW THE F*CK UP: How to Be an Adult and Get Treated Like One will help you be the grownup you want to see in the world. And while it does not contain step‑by‑step instructions for changing the fluid in your windshield wipers or filing your taxes (sorry, that’s on you), it does show you how to develop the skills and master the mind-set that’ll turn you into the kind of person who understands why they need to do that kind of stuff and who is more than capable of figuring it out.

For themselves.

Like an adult.

(Which is pretty cool.)

So how about you, kiddo? What brings you to the opening paragraphs of a sweary little book about growing up?

  • Perhaps you’re an industrious young person seeking a head start on facing and embracing the wide adult world. If so, that’s awesome and I am here for it. (And if you’re a parent hunting for the perfect graduation gift for said young person, I promise they’ll be in good hands.)
  • Maybe you’re only recently out on your own and beginning to wish you’d paid more attention in the Before Times — back when magic elves stocked the cupboards with cereal and folded your laundry and offered wise counsel on breakups and bad days. That was nice, huh?
  • Then again, maybe you didn’t have great role models/magic elves growing up, and there wasn’t much to pay attention to in the teaching and coaching and handholding departments. If circumstances forced you into adulthood unprepared and you’ve been scrambling ever since, know that I am sympathetic to your struggles and confident we can leave them in the rearview.
  • Or hey, perhaps you’ve been at this for quite some time indeed . . . and getting mixed results. Experiencing more bad days than good ones lately, leading to waning confidence in your grownup prowess? No worries, it happens to the best of us! We’ll get you back on track, Boomer.

In any case, I’m delighted to say you’ve come to the right place — because I’ve designed Grow the F*ck Up for each and every one of you.

It’s for precocious teens and recent grads and twentysomethings who may have moved out of Mom and Dad’s blast radius but are still clinging to the credit cards, phone plan, and Netflix account.

It’s for twenty-nine- and thirty-five- and forty-one-year-olds who are surviving, if not necessarily thriving; aka Elder Millennials and Gen-X’ers who could use a refresher course in Adulting 101 (and who’ll appreciate all of my nineties pop culture references, as a treat).

And it’s for midlife meanderers and pre- and post-retirees, because WHY THE FUCK NOT. I don’t want anybody to feel left out just because they have to scroll for thirty seconds to find their birth year in a dropdown menu.

It’s never too late to acquire or revive a bunch of primo life skills! Seriously, who’s going to complain if you suddenly become more polite, dependable, self-aware, self-sufficient, and all-around awesome? Not your friends, family, partner, coworkers, or boss, I’d wager. And certainly not yours truly, who would appreciate it if more people of all ages whom she encounters on any given day were a little less irresponsible and a lot more mature. Just sayin’.

And you’ve made it this far, so let’s put all your cards on the table. How often do you think to yourself —

I could have planned for this. . . but I didn’t.

I waited for somebody else to take care of it. . . but they didn’t.

I am not handling this very well. . . AT ALL.

If the answers are anywhere south of Never, then I think you’re going to be happy you showed up to this party.

The book is divided into four practical, potty-mouthed parts:

  • Part I: Putting the “Fun” in FUNdamentals offers a sneak peek at a shitload of grownup perks and a few key tools and strategies for achieving them.
  • Part II: For Mature Audiences Only shows you how to be on your best adult behavior and how to get the most out of it.
  • Part III: With Great Responsibility Comes Great Power is a guide to all of the practical strategies you could ever need to get shit done and open doors, both personally and professionally.

Then, last but certainly not least —

  • Part IV: Sorry, My Bad demonstrates various ways of holding yourself accountable, and explains why those are the most essential — and impressive — grownup skills of them all.

By the time we’re through, you’ll be able to:

  • Practice self-awareness and maintain self-control
  • Ask for what you want (in a way that makes you more likely to get it)
  • Orchestrate the best possible outcomes for yourself (and cope with the worst ones)
  • Go from fully dependent to gloriously independent AND dependable
  • Slay self-care, apologize with aplomb, and more!

Plus, among all the practical how-tos and the philosophical why-you-should-want-tos, I’ll sprinkle in plenty of my best hyperspecific Pro-dult Tips for good measure. Yup, I intend to send you out there adulting with confidence, verve, and a bottle of Goo Gone to keep under the sink. That shit is MAGIC.

So how about it? Time to put on your game face, bust out those big-kid panties, and grow the fuck up!

It’ll be fun. I promise.

Grow the F*ck Up is being published on April 4th by Hachette Book Group worldwide. You can preorder it from these fine retailers, or your local bookstore:

In the US from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | In Canada from or Indigo (where it’s a “Most Anticipated Book of 2023!”)

In the UK and Ireland from Amazon | Bookshop | Waterstones | WH Smith | Bookstation | Easons | O’Mahony’s Bookshop | In Australia from Booktopia and in New Zealand from Mighty Ape

I’m SARAH KNIGHT, the multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author of six self-help books including The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Calm the F*ck Down. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok [at] sarahknightauthor, on Twitter [at] mcsnugz, and sign up for my No F*cks Given Newsletter HERE.

credit: Mindy Tucker

If you liked what you read, I think you’ll enjoy my Substack: No F*cks Given ® with Sarah Knight. As of October 2023, that’s where all my new stuff is published. You can subscribe HERE!