When I was 16 I had great ambitions of being the inevitable, an adult. When I was 17 things got desperate. I wanted to go out, to be able to buy alcohol, to live in the real world free from my child shackles.
I was striving for the eventual.
Somehow, life has happened between now and then, all of a sudden I have at my fingertips the things that I longed for. The keys to my car, the work clothes in my closet, the alcohol on the shelf, and yet, somehow, things seem less shiny. Somehow, I feel betrayed and misguided by my former self. Somehow I feel like striving for this adulthood was a little bit of a letdown.
Maybe the reality is that nothing as good as it seems or maybe everything is as good as it seems but you’re just not trying hard enough. In the moments of thinking back to my former self, I thought I’d tell her, what I know now.
1. Money is fun, bills aren’t
I remember for the longest time longing for money so I could buy whatever I want. I wanted a house, a car, all the cool things that every adult had. However, what comes along with that is responsibility. A car means saving for years. A house means saving for years and paying a mortgage every month.
2. ‘Finding your passion’ is exhausting
When you jump into the adult world, perhaps the last thing on your mind is finding something you are passionate about. You are consumed by the novelty of the routine, the new people, and the new experiences.
When that wears off though, reality strikes. And figuring out what you want to do with your life is hard work. Good work, perhaps the most important work of all. But it’s hard.
3. Most things, good things, take a lot of work
And then you realize that anything in life, anything worth doing, takes an incredible amount from you. You realize that life (contrary to what you previously thought) isn't as easy as you thought. When you’re an adult, you have to motivate yourself. You have to steer your own ship.
4. Figuring out yourself is hard work
Rewind to my 18-year-old self, I had no cares in the world. Just the decision in front of me to make. Fast forward to my 22-year-old self, fresh out of university and no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I was a little stuck. The first step on the adult journey is realizing that you don’t know yourself half as well as you thought you did.
5. Figuring out your personal finances is a monotony of importance
It’s important but wildly boring. No one taught us this stuff in school and as such we bounce around grasping onto any information we find. Your best bet is to get into good financial habits. Save, invest, spend.
6. Driving in rush hour is about as fun as watching paint dry
Driving takes some real getting used especially have got a commute on your hands. My advice? Get a jug of coffee for the journey, turn the heating off, and the radio up.
7. People die
I’d never thought about people dying as a kid. Luckily, I never had to. But as you get older you realize that we’re all only here for a short while. You worry about your loved one’s health. You worry for them. You worry for yourself. My advice? Spend all the time you can with the people you love.
8. You can do what you want, whenever you want, that’s part of the problem
Your whole life up until this point has been a series of steps. Steps set out for you by someone else. Turn up at this time. Go to this lesson. Read this book. Now, in the big wide world, you can do whatever you like, whenever you like. That’s an odd thing to get your head around.
9. Eating healthy is a constant battle
You want to eat healthy. It’s something that you vow to tackle every year. But somehow it always remains a habit to master.
10. You have to do things you don’t want too (crying won’t make you get your own way)
When you were 6, if you had to do something you didn’t want to, crying would get you out of it. Now, in real life, that perhaps isn’t going to do the trick. You have to get used to the idea of doing things because you have a responsibility or a duty too. That’s life.
11. Being in charge of your own wellbeing sometimes feels like a full-time job
Seriously, who put you in charge of yourself? Figuring out how to make yourself happy is an odd concept but no doubt one that you will come across week after week. You have to figure out what brings you joy, what steals your energy, what makes you feel like you are living your life the way you want to. And that can be tricky.
12. Speaking of full-time jobs, they’re hard too
Work is an adjustment. Straight out of school into work is a tough time. It’s hard to get your head around all the things you need to adjust to. Schedules, people, responsibilities, meetings, everything. My advice? Be kind to yourself for the first 6 months of any job, you don’t need yourself to fight as well.
13. Ironing is a pain in the behind
Why are we still ironing?
14. Work clothes might make you look professional but they also are uncomfortable and increase perspiration by a factor of 200
I’m not sure if this one is just me?
15. Cleaning, washing, making dinner, washing the car, filling the car up, loading the dishwasher, showering, gardening are all repetitive and eternal
If you’re not careful you will spend your entire life cleaning up after yourself.
16. Waking up on time is a constant battle
That alarm will keep ringing regardless. You’ll learn to wake up on time eventually. But it will perhaps always remain a battle.
17. Your skin gets dry and you must remember to moisturize
Which again, is a habit to master.
We’re always rushing to get to the next stage of life. As if then we’ll find what we’re looking for. As if when we finally get there we’ll find this huge sense of fulfillment. The truth is that life is happening right now. It’s the breakfast you eat, the clothes you put on in the morning. It’s all of it.
The best thing I’ve learned so far in life is this:
“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” — Thich Nhat Hanh