Adult-ing is hard. The struggle is real. But you know what my mother would say? She’d say, “Quit complaining, pull up your big kid britches and get to work, because it isn’t anybody else’s job to adult for you.” She’s a tough broad, and she may not be generous with her sympathy. But you know what? She’s usually right.
As I approach my 30th birthday tomorrow, I’m reflecting back on all the ways I’ve screwed up this whole adult thing in my 20s, and how I can improve in the next decade.
I can honestly say I’m actually looking forward to 30. Sure, my genetic eye wrinkles are coming in full force and gravity is for sure taking its toll on my post-child-bearing bod, but those things are being offset by greater wisdom. I’ve discovered a new sense of peace during this last year of my twenties that I’m excited to carry over into the subsequent phases of my life.
Unfortunately for me, this newfound peace was birthed from a place of self-loathing. Not a good time, feeling like I just wasn’t doing anything right. And I truly believe it was because I was telling myself these lies. Lies about life that society misrepresents as truth.
So if you haven’t done so already, I urge you to denounce these lies sooner rather than later. Because there’s loads of potential and happiness inside of you that can shine brightest after you lift the weight of these lies off your shoulders.
Lie #1) You Can “Have It All,” All At Once
We’re grownups now, right? So we “need” stuff and, unfortunately that stuff costs money. Stuff like…A beautifully decorated home that stays clean and organized. A nice car. A techy cell phone. Cable TV and a movie streaming service. Classy date nights. Tropical Vacations. A home and vehicle maintenance fund. An emergency fund. Health insurance. Property insurance. Life insurance. Disability insurance. Personal liability insurance. And you also need diversified retirement funds. Money for wedding gifts, housewarming gifts, bereavement gifts, birthday gifts, holiday gifts. And if you’re like really on the ball, you have money set aside to help pay for your kids’ college, their wedding, or maybe to help them with a down payment on their first house. Ok. Got that?
Now you’re also going to need to be very mindful of this little non-renewable resource we call TIME. Time to work for all that money to pay for the things listed above. Time to relax. Time for family. Time for friends. Time for service and philanthropy. Time to exercise. Time (and energy) for sex. Time to shop for, prepare, and eat nutritious meals. And time to sleep.
I mean…that’s doable, right? WRONG! If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that having and doing all of these things all at the same time is a physical and emotional IMPOSSIBILITY. That is, I guess, unless you’re an independently wealthy heir to a family fortune. Lucky duck.
As for the rest of us, we’re only human! We are lying to ourselves if we think we can have it all, all at once. You can have some of it during one phase of your life, and some of it later in life, but you’ll make yourself miserable thinking you’re going to have it all right out of the gate.
The truth is, you have to choose. You have to decide what is most important to you right now and gracefully allow the other stuff to slide until another time. Talk to a financial planner. Talk to a therapist. Talk to your grandma! Grandmas are so smart, seriously. And discover your best balance somewhere in between being awesome and being a complete slug.
Lie #2) Your Health Can Wait Until Life Calms Down
Nope. Just nope. We know better than this, people! Bad health habits compound over time. Not sleeping? Eating a bunch of junk? Ignoring pain? Justifying excess stress? Don’t lie to yourself and act like it’s okay. These things will catch up to you if you don’t do something about it NOW. Life simply does not “calm down” on its own. You have to take control. You have to take action.
We can’t fix everything overnight, but we can be progressive. Focus on one problem at a time and stop making excuses. Find resources and use them. I’m sorry I’m NOT sorry about my crass opinion on this one. I am my mother’s daughter after all…
Lie #3) You Make Enough Money to Afford That Loan
Oh boy, we sure believed this lie!!! And we ended up financing ourselves into a very tight corner. We were making a healthy income, so we felt like we “deserved” to have nice things without the wait. Bad life decision.
I know we’re not the only ones. Unfortunately, I think most people have to learn this truth the hard way. I wish my parents had emphasized the importance of responsible money management as hard as they emphasized the importance of getting good grades. But I can wish in one hand and poop in the other, right? No use crying over spilled milk. I can’t be the pot calling the kettle black…yes, I’m stalling because I’m still in the process of learning how to fix the money mistakes we’ve made.
I realize I’m not the best person to give advice on this topic. I just know we’ve screwed this one up and I hope you, my readers, are smarter than me.
Lie #4) It’s Someone Else’s Fault
Dangit, sometimes I really wish I could blame someone else. The good old blame game–it’s so easy to play, but you can never really win. Like me blaming my parents for not teaching me to save money. It’s not their fault. My own actions got me into debt. And I’m going to have to work my way out of it, fair and square.
I’m not saying that I don’t still allow myself to believe this lie sometimes…like when I have to waste 20 minutes of my day talking to a customer service robot…but you know what? I chose to give my business to that company. Shame on me, not blame on them.
This lie is like one big umbrella. It covers so many areas of life — relationships, money, health, happiness, time, and on and on. I’m trying not to preach, but I truly believe that passing blame and having a victim mentality dilutes our human potential. We just gotta own it.
***NOTE: The one exception here…when hubby places his dirty socks on a countertop or table…why in the $#@! would he do that?!?! Totally his fault. My fury will be unleashed.
Lie #5) You’re Too Cool for a Minivan, Dammit
Quick, somebody call the Wambulance because I’m about to cry about this one. Yes, my name is Jenny, and I drive a minivan. There. I said it.
And you know what really pains me… I actually love my minivan. My kids LOVE the minivan. My dogs love the minivan. My hunky husband looks like a huge dork driving the minivan, and he loves it. This is real life, people. Get ready for it.
Denial was expensive. First I had an Equinox – it was uncomfortable. So we traded for an Armada – it guzzled gas when prices hit $4.10/gallon, yikes! Then we were working really hard and super stressed so we traded for a 4-door Jeep Wrangler because it would be “fun” with 2 kids – that was just plain stupid. And finally, after all my kicking and screaming, I surrendered to the practicality of the damn minivan.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t cool before the minivan, but now I’m just waving my Mom flag loud and proud as I cruise the strip in my “Super Ship” (that’s what my superhero-obsessed sons call it…seriously).
It’s a Nissan Quest. It gets great gas mileage. It’s comfortable and it has a movie player in the back seat. I’m slowly buy surely learning to accept the fact that I’ll be driving a minivan until my kids no longer have to ride in car seats (which probably won’t be until they’re like 18, thanks to super safety laws). Neat.
So there you have it. My raw, unadulterated, finger-in-the-air, soapbox-style advice on adulthood. Kids, love your naps and respect your parents. Please and thanks.
Now go forth, and adult like you mean it.