A few weeks ago, I had somewhat of a realization – I hate being an adult. I know that’s a bold statement, but hear me out.
While adulating is a term us millennials throw around to suggest doing adult things while not actually being an adult, let’s face the facts, if you live on your own (relatively, not including roommates), work full-time, pay your own bills and are solely responsible for your own well-being, well, hate to break it to you but you are an adult. The thing is, once I finally accepted that this is where I am in my life, adulthood, I started to fall apart a little bit.
First came this overwhelming nostalgia for a less stressful time. A time when bills didn’t seem to multiply in my mailbox, a time where I spent substantially less time yelling at customer service reps and scheduling appointments, and seeing friends didn’t involve calendars and week-long back and forth on when to meet up for 1-2 drinks. A time when I didn’t have to go to meetings about having less meetings, 1:1’s meant a 1:1 game of pick up, and missing a deadline meant failing a class not ending up unemployed. I missed that time, I missed it with such ferocity that I spent a whole week resenting adulthood for all of its misgivings.
Because we were told something different – or at least I was under the assumption that adulthood was getting a job you enjoyed, falling in love with someone, and creating a family where mostly you paid bills but the rest was chill. No one told me about the scheduling part, the meeting part, or the endless appointments that somehow have to continuously be made (but like, why?). I never imagined that I’d have to spend so much money to pay for a degree I barely use, or that working out and eating healthy is its own, very expensive, bill. Not to mention that it’s a seemingly endless stream of trade-offs that feel more like hostage negations than life choices.
All of this dawned on me right before my 27th birthday and I had what some would call a semi mental breakdown. Being someone who has lived with anxiety and depression since I was 18 I am keenly aware of when things start to spiral out of control and since being an adult is not actual cause for a breakdown I used every tool in my toolbox to help me not lose my shit. Balancing it all, knowing that this was basically the whole thing, that I was never not going to be an adult until I was old felt unbelievably soul crushing and I absolutely hated it (this is where I started to understand why the consolation prize for being an adult was alcohol).
Of course, you’re not supposed to hate being an adult. For most of your life this is the point you’re waiting for. When you’re a kid you just want to be a teenager, when you’re a teenager you just want to be in college, when you’re in college you just want to travel more, do more, and then all of a sudden, you’re staring at 30, and then 40, and then 50 and you look up and there you are, a fully realized adult.
I’m not saying there aren’t some perks. I love being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want (ice cream for breakfast anyone?) with the only limitations being my bank account and self-motivation. Sometimes when I’m out at happy hour with my friends, sipping on margaritas, gossiping with co-workers and realizing I’m in one of the coolest cities in the world I don’t hate it so much. For that split second, that hour, that day, being an adult feels like a never ending adventure with limitless possibilities, but then I go home to a stack full of bills and the reality seeps right back in.
I’m also fully aware that as a single, childless adult, I’m living the easiest version of adulthood. I make no compromises, no sacrifices, I can be as selfish as I want and my house is free of Lego’s and sippy cups. Somedays I envy those people, the ones happily married with kids, the ones with huge engagement rings and perfectly enhanced wedding pictures, the ones buying houses and going to Dubai (how is everyone going to Dubai by the way, has Southwest extended their destination points!?). Somedays I think to myself, “that’s the version of adulthood I want, I want that.” But then my friends in relationships, married, or with children bring me right back down to earth and I can’t help but think, “oh great, so it gets marginally better but it’s more of the same. Meetings, bills, scheduling friend visits, with the added-on pressure of having to disappoint family when you decide not to visit them for Christmas.”
So, you can understand my frustration of, “this is it!?” – this is the bill of goods that was marketed to me as the pinnacle of all that I’ve worked for? You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me
But alas, after watching 5 seasons of The Office (work place comedies are my remedy for all ailments), taking lots of walks and receiving validation from friends and family that, no I was not crazy, being an adult isn’t always the greatest, I began to see something else. What my friends and family helped me to see was that my idea of what an adult is isn’t limited to the obligations and technicalities I had described. Rather it is an ever-evolving wave of up’s and down’s, challenges and growth, happy moments and exasperating moments and everything in between. Being an adult is not all the things I hated but rather a much deeper and less soul crushing set of things that are give and take every day depending on how you look at it.
Being an adult is knowing the difference between a good choice and a bad choice, weighing the options and accepting the outcome of whatever you chose. Being an adult is finding things and people who make it all a bit more bearable and spending time nurturing and protecting that so you laugh a little more. Being an adult is recognizing that time passes faster and faster every year and learning to appreciate each fleeting moment while cementing it as a lasting memory. Being an adult is waking up every day and choosing to be happy or faking it so well that you actually become happy (because yes, you can choose to be happy and it is the hardest thing on this planet for some, and for others not so much). It’s not always perfect, and it’s not always fun but every day you continue to do better and be better you become more of the adult person you always dreamed you would be, and maybe that’s not so bad after all.