Everyone has a point in their life where they wonder just how badly they are failing at becoming an adult. Many of us have this same point of worry multiple times in a week! This is a completely natural concern. We all also seem to eventually have a moment where we gasp, clutch at our hearts, and realize with horror that we have become our parents. Or at least, that we are getting very close to being our parents which then causes us to overreact and act like young people again but it is always pathetic because once you’ve reached a certain point of growing up, you can’t go back and oh god it makes me sick all of the time lost hold on I have to go hyperventilate into a brown paper bag.
Now you might be thinking to yourselves, you might even be shouting at your computer screens, “Amandoll, what would you of all people know about growing up? Look at you. You have never worked, you aren’t married, you never want kids, you’ve never even driven a car. Do you know what else you don’t have? You don’t have a bank account. You don’t even qualify as a thirteen year old most of the time, honestly. God. What good ARE you??”
WELL LISTEN, I may not have, like, practical experience on this matter, but I insist that I am very good at making observations and then taking these observations and creating threads of words with them that I can then pretend make good article topics for articles that need to be written as soon as possible because my goodness it is any day of the week already and I need more content all the time more more! Also I am pretty okay at crafting run on sentences of pure excellence today. It is my gift to you all.
There Is Not a Strict Timeline to Follow
Some people grow up faster than others. We all remember those kids in school who got married at age seventeen for some reason, or who always wore business casual attire to class when you went to a school with no dress code. Some people probably never grow up at all, judging by the lives led by some of our dads’ “eternal bachelor” friends. While it is kind of admirable that these 50-something year old men still have the youthful tendencies of the early-twenties crowd, it is more often unsettling and sad. These men are not Peter Pan, because Peter Pan never got fat and old. This makes all of the difference in the world.
After you graduate high school, or drop out, you can either grow up a little immediately by joining the workforce and getting your own place, or you can extend immaturity a little further by attending a college or university. Furthering your education does require some growing up, but you still rely on your parents for a bit, and have the camaraderie of fellow students who are there to have some MORE “best years of their lives” and so on. These fresh young faces are let loose upon the rest of society, acting like Amish teens who get to decide whether or not they will stick with religion or become secular – only most of you will have been debauching yourselves silly since you were twelve, anyway, so you really have no excuse for becoming as raucous over “new freedom” as you generally do.
Each individual will have different settings and experiences and rates of achieving adulthood, but there are certain things you can watch for to mark your progress. Most people, in their late teens and early twenties, will have some basics down that already put them ahead of myself, personally. They will have a bank account, some job experience, a car, credit cards, and brave, sparkly eyes that see the world as an endless opportunity for fun and success.
Eh, I’d Rather Stay In Tonight
One of the first things that people notice on the path to Real Adulthood is that one day, the parties don’t seem as exciting. In fact, they are getting sort of boring. You’ve been attending them for years, you’ve made a lot of bad decisions at them, and the drama just isn’t interesting any more. You start skipping opportunities to attend shindigs in favor of staying home and enjoying the peace and quiet. Maybe you have a job that takes a lot of energy and puts expectations of attendance on you. For a while you can juggle “partying” and work, but it can’t last forever. Nothing can. And one day you will come to accept that resting finally ranks higher than frivolity. You would rather sleep early than create memories that you will then try to obliterate with heavy drinking. It is okay, we have all been or will be right there with you.
The first few times this happens, most people are horrified and force themselves to go out and might even drink EXTRA hard, but friends, it will finally get you. It is a natural process. You gradually reach a point where you do not want to see your friends act like fools, and anyway everyone in attendance keeps getting younger. You’re starting to feel out of your element. The fact of the matter is that all of your friends are going through the same thing. You might not realize it because you are staying in, but you are ALL starting to stay in more. Party as a verb is a young person’s game, and you are no longer young.
If you do value friendly company, you might start hosting your own parties which are smaller and consist of your closer friends. A few times, well-meaning friends who are lower on the maturity ladder might bring extra friends that you did not pre-approve, and these people might stain your carpets or behave in a most unbecoming manner. You will complain and then you will be accused of being “lame” or “a square” or even that dreadful word: “old.” After that terrible offense, you will be out of sorts for an eon. You might try a few “dinner parties,” but realistically you will just start only attending family parties that revolve around holidays or birthdays. Eventually, you will prefer it that way.
Is This… Could This Be… L-love?
Ah, amore! Amore! Except for the hot sexy loners out there, we all crave companionship. Sure, we start having significant others in grade school… maybe? At least I did, because I am not afraid of cooties and never was. In high school we get some element of seriousness, and some suckers fall for that thinking it is true love and GET MARRIED WHY DO THEY GET MARRIED it troubles me. But, high school only brings “tru luv” which is a kind of love, sure, but a laughable one.
As we grow up, we start dating around. Eventually we find a “serious relationship” or two. These relationships last months or years and are noteworthy for the emotional depths reached. There are highs and lows, fights, dramas, good times. It becomes important that your friends approve of a special someone eventually. That is when you know that things are becoming real. You move in together, and prefer to keep company with just the two of you instead of attending parties very often. Before you know it, you share pets, take vacations together, meet the family, make decisions based not on what YOU (singular) want but what YOU (as a couple) want. Soon, talk of marriage, an engagement, wedding, kids, divorce. You are finally at Advanced Adult, at least in the relationship section. Although if you aren’t at least matured in most of the things I mention in this article, you are probably not going to get much past the “live together” stage, which is fine by some people. I am pointing to myself right now.
Accoutrement and Décor
This section is about how people present themselves to the world, as it is a thing I have noticed. Kids follow their trends and dress in trendy clothes and “oh isn’t that a cute trendy dress?” I hate that people use that as a positive word. Eventually though, most people grow into their Adult Body, and… it is so weird to explain, but everyone gets broader, I think. Weight is gained, metabolism slows, and even the skinniest and prettiest upper-twenties women don’t really look that good in the trendy clothes meant for twenty year olds.
There is societal pressure and pressure from clothes manufacturers for people to “dress their age” and you can either resist, which is so admirable but eventually looks bad so it really isn’t that admirable after all, or submit to their opinions. Which, I mean people submit all the time, I assume you get used to it. It is probably a key factor in growing up. “Learn how to follow the herd so you can exist without hassle.” God, hassle is the pits. Life is so tiring. I sometimes understand why they think that. BUT THIS ARTICLE IS NOT MY PAPER DIARY.
So you will realize some day that you dress in a more conservative style now. You look good, but you certainly look different. I assure you – young people will figure you are parent-aged no matter what. People judge by attire quite a lot, as they judge books by their covers, and your cover is starting to say “Respectable Adult, Probably Forty or Something, Who Cares?” God those little shits.
There will also come a time in your life, and this is a BIG deal, where you will purchase a piece of furniture that is expensive. After years of buying cheap junk, dumpster diving at colleges for good tables and chairs, thrift store buying – you will find yourself plunking down like $2900 for a Dining Room Set (and that is probably still On Sale). After you get the table in, set it up, decorate it, you will sit down heavily on a brand new chair and wonder what possessed you to spend that much credit card on a new table that you probably won’t really use. You’ll still eat on the couch sitting in front of the television, but by god whenever you have people over, you can have them eat at that new table! You will HAVE DISCUSSIONS about the table with these people. No one will be interested, but part of adulthood is that you have to hold these kinds of conversations whenever you meet up with “friends.” It is why you will stop wanting to have company over. And without this element to your life, how else are you supposed to find the motivation to weep quietly in the bathroom every morning before your shower?
Cleanliness Becomes SO IMPORTANT Suddenly!
Kids who have just moved out seem to not realize that they have to actually take care of the cleaning by themselves. Unless they are lucky and have moms who will visit them and clean up after them, or maybe they can hire a maid, who knows. But the first few years are mired in filth. The young adult can cope with this. They are usually not home or too bombed to notice, anyway. Eventually, the housemates find a mouse or roach infestation and agree to set aside one day of the week to clean from top to bottom, EVERY week. This plan usually lasts one week, and then people “forget to attend” or “have something better to do.” This is about when you begin hating roommates and yearn to be able to afford your own place, so you become motivated to get a better job, or to shack up with your significant other to combine incomes, etc.
There is a step toward adulthood where you realize that if you wash your dishes after your dinner, then they do not pile up. That’s so convenient! You may remember that that is what your parents do, and you marvel at their genius. Why didn’t you realize it sooner? Other things you wished you had realized sooner: cleaning a little every day not only cuts down on the amount you must clean later, but it also is far less disgusting. Also living in a clean home just feels better. It is NICE.
Some people take this to extremes and have the OCD Super-Mom attitude about it, and that’s kind of okay. I think it is better than the homes kept by slobs or those terrifying hoarder people. Man, those guys need to grow up (with help from trained psychologists, I guess)! Filthy people certainly can still be adults in every other way, but automatically they are not AS respectable as clean people. I do not know why this stigma exists, but it probably has to do with the fact that being sanitary is glorious and being unsanitary creates pestilence and sorrow.
Tackling Culinary Responsibility
Everyone has to start somewhere, and most of us start very low on the cooking totem pole. When I moved out of my parents’ house when I was eighteen, I could cook grilled cheeses, simple pasta, and follow microwave instructions on the backs of packages. That was all. But as the years passed, I became more and more food confident! The same is true for everyone. It is great to learn how to cook. It is obviously rewarding to learn to follow a recipe and then eat until you get fatter and fatter! But, you will certainly feel a little older and a little more adulty when you realize that you are perusing magazines for recipes, when you actually GET EXCITED to find one that you think sounds tasty, when you read up on cooking techniques.
This is a facet of adulthood that few people feel bad about, however. How can you feel ashamed of attaining heights in cooking? You really can’t. Soon, you will find yourself cooking in delightful tandem with your live-in girl or boyfriend in order to serve the guests of your DINNER PARTY who will be over any minute oh my stars where did the time go?? Quick, dear! Set the brand new dining table properly! Oh gosh is everything clean? You know how Jenny likes to check the corners of the bathroom, she’d just love it if she could tell people at the office how dusty our corners are! I’d be so ashamed. But I HAVE to invite her. I don’t have “friends,” I have “social obligations” now! You know that!
You Might Feel the Same, But You’ve Changed, You’ve Changed
And you know it. All of you readers who have experienced these things might not have noticed that these changes have occurred. I apologize if it is a shock to you. The transition into becoming an older person is very gradual and sinister, and it really does take a lot of people by surprise. I think that is where the mid-life crisis comes from. The people just weren’t paying attention, and then BAM all of the changes became apparent at the same time and that really IS too much to endure. I hope that my little article here at least informs you early enough that you can maybe have a week or two of depression, but nothing too life-ruining.
And you youngsters reading… well. I hope you find it entertaining to see the rest of us decaying in front of you, but you’ll be right here in five or ten years. Your time will come.
It is probably not that awful to grow up. You get your own place and the stress of taxes, bills, raising children, or whatever. You can finally be responsible enough to keep pets for the full length of their lives. I sincerely recommend that adults stop being so shallow and tired all of the time, trying to keep up with the Joneses, as it were, and ugh all of that stuff is so awful no wonder everyone is so lifeless and boring. Unfortunately, I can offer no alternative. You’re all mired in your habits and it’s going to take more than my scorn to snap everyone out of it.
I’m going to try to respectfully bow out of all this nonsense though. I don’t seem to have an aptitude for half of this stuff.