Here’s a big life lesson your parents never imparted to you likely because they themselves couldn’t admit it: There is no magical adult awakening that occurs at a set point in your life. Your parents didn’t feel all that different in their 60s than they did in their 20s -- at least not mentally.
Luckily, life has a way of filling in the void and slapping you in the face with adulthood on a daily basis. Finding yourself struggling with these adult problems is the only sure sign that you’d better get busy maturing or get busy faking it.
Tell a child your base salary -- even if you’re entry level -- and odds are they will go wide-eyed in awe of how wealthy you are, their little heads spinning with all the toys and snacks they could buy with a preposterous $22,000 per year. That’s because children have no concept of things like taxes, pay cycles and, of course, endless bills.
Most recent college graduates are saddled with the training wheels of the bill life: Student loans. But just wait until you have to pay for everything. Every month. Rent, food, power, insurance, gas, more food... In some states, you have to pay for them to pick up your garbage. Want to watch TV? Here’s a $150 per month bundle of slow internet, a home phone that only really benefits telemarketers and political campaigns, and the four channels you want to watch packaged with 1,500 channels of Guy Fieri you’ll never need. [Photo Credit: Imgur]
You can thank youthful naiveté for allowing you the luxury of statements like: “My foot hurts a little bit. Eh, whatever.” Because once you hit a certain threshold, every ache, pain, red mark, pimple, freckle, and errant sneeze is the grim reaper hanging on your neck.
In high school and college you got scars for doing amazingly dumb things like practicing stairwell luge or actually answering the question, “You got a problem?” As an adult, you get scars for doing amazingly dumb things like getting kidney stones or refusing to give up your daily bacon and six-egg omelette until your heart explodes. [Photo Credit: Imgur and Sad Cat Meme Generator]
We’re not even going to get into child rearing, because that’s next level adulting you don’t even want to think about right now. No, the simple act of naming a child is an anxiety-ridden exercise in ulcer formation.
You’ll never realize just how many people you despise in your life until you start eliminating name contenders, and then there’s the dual pressure of giving your child a name that’s too common (“Welcome to kindergarten, we’re just going to call you Emma #14 to keep it clear”) or getting too creative and giving them a name all but guaranteed to show up in a chyron along the bottom of the screen during The Maury Povich Show (“Our next guest is here to talk about his crippling addiction to eating duvet covers, please welcome Boulevard Rocketship Jones”). And if you think naming them after a beloved old relative is a handy loophole, get ready to have to explain to the child how cyberbullying wasn't a thing in grandpappy Mortimer's day. [Photo Credit: Mommyish.com]
As a kid, you dread the idea of being alone in the house with absolutely nothing to do. As an adult, you don’t even entertain such a luxurious thought because there’s no deity in the universe who could possibly bestow on you such a kindness. Free time is a relic of days when all you had to do was nothing, all you had to earn was nothing, and all you were responsible for was nothing. Adults are never without something to do -- and while that sounds fun to kids, they need to remember that “something to do” usually means taking them to doctor’s appointments, going to Home Depot to pretend you know how to fix a kitchen sink, or vacuuming Cheerios that date back to the Pleistocene era out of car upholstery. [Photo Credit: Quick Meme]
Most people who reminisce fondly about their first ever apartment focus on the wrong memories. It wasn’t the sense of freedom it gave you, or the cozy breakfast nook, or the endearingly wacky neighbor who used to leave Goya bean cans in your mailbox. No, it was the fact that when something broke or needed to be mowed, you called someone and they took care of it for you at no added expense.
Once you own a home like a real adult, however, your life devolves into an endless cycle of patching, renovating, replacing, or maintaining everything around you. Oh, and then you have kids, whose sole purpose for their first four years is to stress test everything in the house.
You are not officially an adult until you’re forced to live far enough away from your job to ensure you have a good 1-3 hours each and every day to question why you let your life come to this. If you roll out of bed and skip to work or hop on a bike path, you’re still a child (or European). No, a true adult makes that soulless Bataan death march each day because… Wait, you work remote? Congrats, you don't have a commute! But you do have a host of new issues that come with this new-found freedom. Like keeping a clean background to trick your coworkers into thinking there aren't piles of stuff just out of camera view. [Photo Credit: ImgFlip]
Like “free time,” the concept of having friends has to change before you can consider yourself an adult. People you grew up with, share similar life experiences, and with whom you have a genuine good time even without a structured plan or base event? You can forget those people.
Your friend options are now relegated to: 1) Whoever is sitting to your immediate left and/or right at work and 2) Anyone in your neighborhood with children the same age as yours. And that’s it. What’s that? You hate golf, microbeers, and Million Dollar Listing? Doesn’t matter. You’ll need to chat about them for 6 hours because Timmy and Bobby both love the sprinkler park. [Photo Credit: Quick Meme]
Kids, relish the days when you could ask yourself, “What do I feel like eating?” rather than “What am I allowed to eat?” Like bouncing back from a big fall or working through a hangover, eating gross and obscene amounts of food is something your body rebels against in its mature years. As an adult, every meal is a minefield of health problems you have to navigate with absolute precision -- it involves denial, hasty bargains with your body (“I won’t eat this again for 4 years, I promise”), and other acts of culinary desperation. A meal is no longer a meal, it’s something you need to do to stay alive while also making sure the things you’re eating aren’t killing you. Yay!
BEING RESPONSIBLE FEELS NORMAL
The saying “live as if there’s no tomorrow” is fine when you’re biggest investment in life are green bananas and a drawer full of loose change -- but you’ve got people relying on you now. Risky behavior is no longer going on a reckless adventure, it’s setting only one alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. (Wait, does a phone count? It does. Ok, then two alarm clocks.)
When it comes to balancing work and personal time, paying bills, managing schedules, sending birthday cards, buying groceries, getting your car routinely inspected, not avoiding doctor’s appointments, or handling the other endless stream of tasks that confront your daily life, you got this. Because you’re a responsible adult! And the best part is, you no longer wince at those words anymore. You understand that it means putting your energy into things that matter.
Now get back to work...or pick up the kids from Judo class...or find out why that last dentist visit didn't count against the deductible...