Adulting. A word that sends shivers down millennials’ spines. You know, growing up, there was no such term. It was just, growing up. Now it’s got this fancy new term that seems more relatable and frankly, more terrifying.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned in the middle of this thing we call adulting.
Everyone’s stuck on some level.
The thing with looking on your left, on your right, and on your Facebook feed is that you think everybody’s way ahead of you. You think you’re severely lagging behind and you’ve wasted months, or even years of your life just dilly-dallying while your friends were hitting those books, putting in those hours, and just winning in their careers.
That’s just not accurate.
Even your successful friends probably have one foot stuck straddling the adulting line and you know nothing about their struggles.
Bills. Never. Stop.
When you start putting your bills in your name, and they come in through the mail, and you see your complete adult name in that tiny transparent window, you feel a little proud.
That fades eventually as you discover these white envelopes multiply over time.
You’re going to try to pay them in full and on time like the responsible adult you’re trying to be, but there will be a few times you’re going to miss. AND THAT’S OKAY. Really.
Bills, like life, are marathons, not sprints. The moment you take that first step in putting your bills in your name, they WILL keep coming, you WILL keep paying them, and as long as you don’t bury yourself in debt, you’re okay.
Waiting for that promotion, that time when your salary increases so you can save up? Yeah that’s not happening.
As you’ll soon discover, sometimes (most times) when your salary goes up, your spending also increases. And you don’t feel the salary bump.
But what you need to remember is the golden rule about savings—consider it an expense. No matter what your salary is, save first before everything else. It’s not something you do after you spend your hard-earned money.
You can’t YOLO your way on this one.
You need to WANT to become better.
Time doesn’t make you a better person. Effort does. You don’t magically become a better person because you’re regularly adding years to your life.
If your experiences don’t teach you the lessons you need to learn and to drive you to make the changes you need to make in your life, they’re useless.
The quality of the person you want to be is ultimately shaped by the choices you make, the frame of mind in which you make them, and your consistency in making better choices day in and day out for the rest of your life.
Drama becomes old news.
As you approach your late 20’s or 30’s, you’ll have a distaste for any unnecessary stress in your life, be it career-wise, relationship-wise, or friendship-wise. You’re bound to cut that sh*t out because it simply doesn’t have space in your life anymore.
Anyone who’s doing adulting right will naturally weed out the things that don’t serve a purpose anymore. Anything that doesn’t enrich your life isn’t something that you spend energy on.
Childhood friends, 5-year careers, and first loves are no exceptions.
If it doesn’t help you grow, it’s gotta go.
You need direction. And it has to be forward.
It’s okay to get stuck every now and then. To find yourself in ruts, to discover road blocks, and to fail (sometimes miserably). But you need to keep moving forward in the direction that you choose. You can’t just stop and give up altogether and let the wind take you in circles.
If you want to build a career, take the necessary steps. Don’t get stuck in the planning and wishing stage. Take the leap.
If you want to build a family, work towards that. Make yourself the kind of person who’s worthy of it. Then find your equal. Your person. Your ride-or-die partner. Build your values together, raise kids practicing those values, and make awesome people.
Whatever you find you want to do, do it.
You’re never done.
You can be in your 60’s and you’re still not done turning yourself into an adult. Seriously. Adulting isn’t a definite period of time. It’s actually a continuous, til-death type of commitment. Once you enter into the realm of adulthood, there aren’t any take-backsies.
Sometimes it feels like entering the Horror House at the carnival. You anticipate the scary things, feel overwhelmed with the darkness you need to navigate, but as you spend more time in there, you begin to feel braver and readier for things that you expect will pop out and scare the bejeezus out of you.
But you realize you’re already there, and you might as well enjoy the show. And you will. Eventually.