I keep in touch with my best friend Erica via Gchat. Even though we live across the country from each other, it’s such a low-effort way to stay connected, that we talk just about every day. When big things happen — breakups, an upcoming interview, travel — we absolutely talk about them, but the continuous all-day connection allowed by Gchat means we started sharing more mundane things as well.
One day it came up that Erica hadn’t been to the dentist in a few years, which I had been guilty of as well through college and grad school.
I had finally gone to the dentist after I started my first job, and spent a chunk of time picking out just the right health insurance. I figured that since I was paying for dental, too, so I should probably go and make sure I had no pressing issues, and felt guilty because I knew it was something I was supposed to be doing all along.
I had been nervous as well, and understandably Erica was, too — maybe she’d find out she had a bunch of cavities that needed to be filled. But of course, if there was something wrong, putting it off would just make it worse.
So, I encouraged her virtually to start looking at Yelp (yes, Yelp is super helpful for finding a dentist), pick out somewhere to go, and make a phone call to see if she could get an appointment. Being a millennial, I absolutely hate calling people on the phone, even if it’s really no big deal. But coaching someone else to do it made it seem like nothing, really, as I urged “it’ll only take like five minutes” over chat.
Then I glanced over at my own to-do list. “Call eye doctor” was at the top. Hmm. Here I was walking Erica through an annoying, feels-much-harder-than-it-is adult task, when I had been putting off one of my own! “Brb,” I typed, “gonna call my eye doctor and finally make an appointment.” And then I did.
Now, maybe making doctor appointments isn’t impressive to you. We’ve encouraged each other through advanced adulting activities too! Most recently, we commiserated about taxes, and I did my 2013 taxes earlier than I would have otherwise, because I had told Erica I would and didn’t want to let her down. (I think I did my 2012 taxes on April 13 last year, yeesh.)
I also pushed her to sign up for a Roth IRA, explained the advantages (seriously, if you’re a grad student like Erica or otherwise currently in a low tax bracket, get on that shit), and pointed her to the place to sign up online.
We both like to dig in our heels about these things — a lot of adult tasks are boring, and feel difficult, or involve talking to strangers on the phone, and there just never seems to be an end to them. But having a friend to complain to, cheer on, and report back to with successes really helps us put these things in perspective and get them done.
The best part? When we complete tasks, we award each other with adult points. (I gave Erica 87 adult points for submitting her tax return in mid-March.) And adult points are exchangeable for ice cream whenever you want, because you’re a motherfucking adult.