As humans, the moments that make up our lives are a confusing mix of good, bad and truly weird. Unfortunately, in much of these moments, people, even fully grown ones, are not adulting at very high levels. We’ve reached a point where basic adulting deserves a moment in the sun, so, I’m here to oblige. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a start. Here are, in my own opinion, the adultiest moments of 2017:
- We started believing sexual assault/harassment victims. Thanks to some solid journalism and a good ole’ fashioned hashtag movement, we started this new thing where we listen to women and treat them like valid humans whose experiences matter. Probably just a fad. (The hashtag is #MeToo, if you’ve been living under a tiny, internet-free rock.)
- We learned not all nostalgic TV shows have to be reboots. Speaking of fads, millennial nostalgia finally yielded some positive results. “Stranger Things,” a Netflix original that debuted in 2016, came back this fall with a second season that was, dare I say, even better than the first. The bikes. The characters. The opening credit font! It’s refreshing to see rampant nostalgia finally be used for good rather than — wait WHY ARE PEOPLE WEARING SHOULDER PADS AGAIN
No one got bent out of shape about what cups at Starbucks look like ... wait. Just kidding. Maybe next year.
- Neighbors really did help neighbors. The response to the Legion Lake Fire in Custer State Park brought out the best in many people, despite these terrible conditions: cold temperatures, high winds, snow, and a fire that raged through more than 53,000 acres, or 80 square miles. The fire threatened homes in Custer County, and the Red Cross opened a shelter for the evacuees. Within a day, the Red Cross put out word that they only needed cash donations because people had donated too much food, which is likely the single most Midwestern thing that has ever happened.
- We took a step toward a healthy view of parking. Rapid City officials enacted a “parking survey,” which could possibly lead Rapid Citians to realize that able-bodied folks can actually walk more than 30 feet to their chosen destination without dying.
- Sturgis schools showed how to handle cultural clashes. In Sturgis, some misguided youths caused a stir by painting a car with “Go back to the Rez,” smashing said car, then posting the antics on social media. Many deemed the behavior as racist at worst; “culturally insensitive” at best. The Meade School District, rather than going silent or on the defensive, responded decisively, but with compassion and foresight. School officials apologized for the incident, reached out to the school at the receiving end of the insult, disciplined the students involved and then instituted a program called “Restorative Justice” meant to rehabilitate “offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.” Well done.
- An official was willing to listen. In May, Rapid City Central High School at first denied a 17-year-old senior, Meredith Erck, from participating in the school’s graduation ceremony. She was six credits short of the 22 needed to graduate, due to a two-and-a-half year battle against colon and brain cancer. She wanted to walk in May with her twin brother. After the initial denial, there was a big response from the public, almost entirely in support of Erck. The school district listened to the public outcry. School Superintendent Lori Simon described it as an “exceptional case,” and added that “Sometimes as leaders we have to have the humility and leadership to say, ‘You know, maybe we need to listen to all perspectives and rethink our decisions,’ and this was that situation.” Humility is a vastly underrated and underused character trait in leaders, and for possessing it we give Simon five stars on a five-star adulting scale.
To these adultiest of adults, I offer my sincerest thanks. May 2018 bring further moments of adults acting adultier than they’ve ever adulted before.