Finding a balance between childlike wonder and successfully adulting, now there’s a challenge. As a child, adults often proclaim “you will understand when you are older.” For example, understanding the value of money and what that means. As predicted, this was a concept that had more weight when I started paying for everything. But it was not the aspect of adulthood that I needed a heads up on.
Yes, managing finances is hard. It came with the understanding that not being able to afford something doesn’t mean I couldn’t buy it. Rather, I shouldn’t make the purchase based on my wage and fixed costs.
Lodging tax returns, applying for a loan, managing a superfund, all these elements are essential aspects of adulting that really should be part of education. As it turns out, ‘life admin’ isn’t the hardest part because thankfully there’s a clear answer for it and even guides if you’re willing to ask.
What they don’t tell you about adulting is that you are responsible for your life. This may sound obvious in theory but this places an unshakable weight on your decisions. Every choice you make contributes to who you are and who or where you will be.
Once you know this, how you choose to spend your time and the way you handle situations is constantly at the forefront of your mind.
You could party all night, or you could spend the evening learning a new language. You could get stoned in the park with friends, or you could work to save up for that overseas trip. Choose your trip. Ultimately it’s your life and how you want to spend it is up to you. As such, so are the consequences of your actions. These effects may not be immediately clear, but each of your experiences accumulates to your life story. Suddenly, even simple moments seem like defining milestones of your life.
Maybe it’s due to this immense responsibility that when asked how we are doing, our response is often the standard “all good,” which doubles as both a shield and a “fake it till you make it” mantra.
Because when you stop to think about how important it all is and how much life means to each of us, it’s no wonder adults would rather warn us about paperwork.
Gone are the days of early twenty-somethings were you where you have all the freedom of adulthood, but responsibility hasn’t sunk in.
School, university, military all these institutions make it easy to remain blissfully ignorant. This is because it feels as though you have freedom, but your days are heavily structured. There is a certainty, a routine. More specifically, a clear divide between students and adults or a strictly followed, distinguished hierarchy. By relying on the adults as a guide for how to govern their day, they continue the bliss bubble, which dismisses adulting and the responsibility that comes with the uncertainty of choice.
Some people never experience this realisation, continuing to live in this semi-adult bliss bubble as they shift from affluent family to career connections and long-term life security.
For the rest of us, once that bubble is burst, adulting awaits.
With the weight of your world on your shoulders, It can be tempting to want to do it all at once. The realization that every moment is yours creates a need to say yes to everything. Individuals place an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to maximise their time and embrace each experience. I’d know.
The immensity can be paralyzing. There is so much to do but no guide on how to get there. When faced with the option of working towards your dreams, or enjoying familiar child-like comforts, it can be tempting to revert to old habits.
In fact, the responsibility of achieving your idea of success can be so overwhelming that your wants and desires seem impossible to achieve. Rather than motivating you to make your aspiration a reality, the immensity of your decisions feeds into a fear of failure. In extreme cases, this starts a negative feedback loop that could lead to total paralysis. A kind of half-life in which you wait for something or someone else to change your life, giving into a submissive existence. In refusing to take responsibility and cease action, a decision is made to live and not thrive.
Unlike Life Admin, there is no ultimate guide to life or adulting for that matter.
You’re scrambling around trying to get a grip on this adulting thing by reading every “what successful people do each day” and “how to stay motivated” article that appears in your feed. Because that’s the closest we get to having some guide. It can help us feel as though we momentarily have our lives together.
The truth is, no one knows what the hell they are doing. Experience helps but everyone is making it up as they go.
This is both magical and terrifying.
Thankfully we don’t live in a world of determinism, which means we can create our own path. Sure it’s scary, but the only thing we have to be afraid of is ourselves. Take comfort in the fact that, it’s all been done before. Maybe not exactly but the overarching themes of shared human experiences remain the same. We have the potential to be and do anything. Why not push boundaries and immerse ourselves in life. Afterall, it’s just life.
If you’ve made it through this mini-essay, I would love to hear what you think the hardest part about adulting is and if you have any insights x