The Things People Don’t Tell You About Adulthood
I remember when I used to abhor routine, when waking up before 9am was a form of torture I only subjected myself to for early flights or hungover stumbles to the kitchen for water. When I dreamt of getting older — and, of course, I did dream of it — I thought of the perceived freedom of adulthood, this idea that I could and should and would do anything and everything I pleased. There was a magical feeling to the daydream of adulthood and with it endless possibilities of who I’d end up being and what I’d end up doing and the kind of life I’d find myself enjoying.
During my early to mid twenties, I traveled and worked as a web designer, fully taking advantage of the unbelievable freedom of being able to make money while needing nothing other than a laptop and an internet connection. After a year in Paris and nine different apartments rented via Airbnb, all I dreamt of was a home, a car, a life I’d call my own. I romanticized this grown up version of myself, leaving behind a gypsy lifestyle in favor of roots, those pesky little roots I spent so much time avoiding were the very things that kept beckoning to me.
I wanted nothing of roots for the better part of my twenties and then, boom, those spindly things that anchored me to the ground were all I thought of. I wanted a home, a real place where the furniture was mine and not subject to a thorough walk-through at the end of my stay. After living in 20+ apartments in less than a decade, I wanted something, anything that was mine.
I wanted to grow up.
So, I did. I leased a car and an apartment and I bought furniture and spent hard-earned money building a foundation for the life I had envisioned, the grown up version of whatever hodgepodge life I had been fiddling around with for most of my twenties. I felt Responsible. Mature. Productive.
Maybe I felt like an Adult.
A Real Adult.
During that time, I turned 30 and especially felt as though I had officially put on my big girl panties. I had done it. I looked and acted the part of adult perfectly. I had the adult things and the adult car and the adult apartment and the adult credit card debt and the adult student loan debt and the adult throwing out bags of spinach that went bad because I was a little ambitious at the grocery store and the adult despair and general existential crisis. So yeah basically I had unlocked adulthood like a fucking boss.
Now, here I am, fully formed grown up with all the trappings of that achievement. I have a blender. I can blend many soups. I can make hummus from scratch, if I felt so inclined to do so. (I feel negative inclined to make hummus from scratch, but hey, it’s an option.)
But, you know what no one ever told me?
This is it? This is the big moment, the big hurrah, the big thing I have been waiting for during my twenties? This is what I was preparing for?
Making soup? Paying off student loan debt? Making minimum payments on credit cards? Hating younger me for buying things on credit cards? Thinking younger me who leased a car was an idiot? Having hangovers from one glass of wine? Looking forward to potentially making soup in a blender?
This is the worst.
The other day I was hanging out with a friend and I was like, “What do you do for fun?” And she stared at me lifelessly, vacantly and shrugged her shoulders. She asked me, “What can someone do for fun on a Thursday night that isn’t wildly expensive, won’t give them a hangover, and is actually fun?” I couldn’t think of anything. Not one thing. I was alarmed for myself, for my fellow thirty-somethings. I was not properly prepared for the mind-numbing ordinariness of being in your thirties.
Now, I know a lot of people have children at my age. I’m not sure where I stand on the idea of having children and vaguely feel like I should know by now if I want to be a mother. But, having children is a thing people do at this age. I’ve hung out with kids — they are not boring. They are not particularly interesting, but your mind has very few places to wander to when you’re with a kid, mostly because your wandering mind could literally kill a child. You need to be watching children all the time. All the time! Children have no concept of chill.
So, okay, if you’re childless and in your thirties and you don’t want to get drunk in order to have fun, then honestly what do you do? How do you escape the soul-crushing monotony of adulthood? I am genuinely scared that this is it. Do I just have children in order to break up the monotony? I feel like that’s a terrible reason to have a child.
I was not prepared for this knowledge — to find out that being grown is perhaps the most boring thing ever and to realize this at 30 when I likely have a lot more years to live. This is what I do? I work to be able to pay for things and I just keep doing this for like ever? And I can’t even cut the boredom with a glass of wine because I will inevitably have a hangover? Are things not fun post-30? I see a lot of people running marathons and cooking meals, but both of those things sound the opposite of fun. Am I missing some adult fun gene that allows me to think hiking is a verifiably pleasurable activity?
People told me adulthood was hard, but I didn’t realize it would be hard and also monotonous as fuck. I’m even doing work that I enjoy but work is still work even if you love it. I can’t accept that life becomes just a drudge of responsibility and productivity and cleaning and cooking and paying bills and worrying about paying bills and getting angry about political candidates and trying to increase productivity and looking at student loan statements and being like why did I go to college fat lot of good that degree is doing for me now. I’m supposed to make soup or go hiking or visit a farmer’s market or learn to like meal prepping or some shit?
This is it?
I quit adulthood. This is some bullshit.