As a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than to be an adult. Being an adult meant the great I and the great F. Independence and freedom was what I was after and for some reason I, along with many others, thought that turning 18 meant you were suddenly independent and free.
I was of course in for a shock because life sure doesn’t work that way. You don’t go from being a kid to being an adult just because you celebrate your 18th birthday. Sure, you may be able to drive or drink or get married but none of those things make you an adult. And yet, at some point in life, you will feel like an adult. You know that while you haven’t got your shit together, you can still deal with whatever shit comes your way. You just know…
And so here are a few things that I did when I thought I was an adult and what I do now.
(Note 1: Things will change, because I still have a lot of growing up to do. So there’s a lot more to add to this post and I’m sure a lot of actual adults will just laugh at me, but whatever).
(Note 2: This post goes no where, and it's kind of long. The reason I wrote this was mostly because I was having a mid-youth crisis and was starting to question if I really was an adult. I needed some convincing and so wrote this just so I didn't feel like a real failure of an adult. The reason for said crisis? Way too many people on Facebook are getting married and having kids.)
Here’s something I’m not proud of. I left the washing of all my dirty clothes to my mother until very, very recently. During school, I just knew I couldn’t do a good job washing my uniforms. And once I started working, I claimed to be just too tired and out of time.
Since a few months ago, I’ve been washing my clothes and this has made me feel like a real adult. And here’s the thing. Whenever, as a kid, I pictured adult-me doing her laundry, I always saw a day of the week dedicated to the mammoth task of washing clothes.
And now that I wash my own clothes… the truth is that I wait until the dirty clothes basket is overflowing and I have no more clean clothes to wear. And my definition of clean clothes has changed too. Let's admit it. No longer do we wear something just once. If the article of clothing in question doesn’t smell too bad, it can be worn a couple more times.
Will kid-me be mortified to know that adult-me goes through the dirty clothes basket in search of something wearable? Yes…
And a few years ago, I would have never admitted this. Recently, I was talking with someone, and they said they do the same thing and while kid-me would have pretended to be disgusted just so the other person wouldn’t know my secret, I laughed and said we are both in the same boat.
Let’s admit it. Alcohol was one thing that seemed super adult-ish to us. By the time we got to our mid-teens, there seemed to be nothing cooler than drinking before you are legally supposed to. And then, when we were right out of school, we thought that a meet up couldn’t happen if we weren’t going to drink.
But we also weren’t earning (much) money. Most of us were at university, depending on our parents. We couldn’t walk up to them and ask for money so we could drink with our friends. And so we had to find places that sold cheap alcohol, didn’t attract creepy people and was ‘safe’ in case our parents found out where we were.
I didn’t belong to the party crowd so I don’t know what it was like when it came to parties and clubbing and proper drinking, but as someone who has had very little alcohol in her life (and I'm not saying this in case my parents are reading this), let me say this: I have forced down drinks just because it seemed like what adults did.
Now… Now I only drink if I feel like it. There have been plenty of times when I’ve said no to a drink just because I didn’t see the point of drinking at that moment.
This may change, because ain’t no better friend than a bottle of something strong, eh? but alcohol no longer seems like something that we need to just chug down.
Money, money, money
Kid-me thought it’ll rain money (and men too. What’s with the drought, universe?). I thought that a job meant a never-emptying bank account. And so, for other reasons too, I got myself a job. And I swear I had more money when I depended on the pocket money my parents gave me.
But here’s what has changed. During my late-teens, not having money was something we didn’t admit openly. We beat around the bush. We carefully studied menus to make sure we could pay for what we were ordering.
Now we plan meet ups depending on how much money we have. I can openly tell my friend(s) when I can’t afford to eat at a certain place, and it is fine because most of the time, my friend(s) would tell me they have no money either.
And so dining on popcorn and candyfloss is as okay as spending a bit of money on some nice food. It just depends on how full/empty our bank accounts are.
Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought it was rude to not answer calls or messages. If you know me now, you’ll be laughing about this. I used to always answer calls and messages. Now I’m wiser. And I just can’t be bothered to.
So messages are ignored. Calls go unanswered. But it’s not because being an adult means you are rude or lazy. It’s just that you don’t see the point in replying to messages or emails that don’t really need a reply. For instance, I hate it when people reply to an email with ‘received’. It’s 2017, Gmail will let me know if an email hasn’t been delivered… right?
And also I find that I have no time for bullshit. If I know a friendship won't work out or I have nothing to contribute to a conversation, I'd rather save my energy than make an effort to talk to people.
My self-esteem suffered a massive fall a few years ago and hasn’t budged since, so in that way, kid-me and adult-me are the same. However, the way I see myself has changed slightly.
I somehow missed the phase where one experiments with makeup, messes up, learns and masters the art and then when they are 18 or 19, they look like an artist drew on their faces. Added to this, when dear ol’ Mr. Creator was working on me, he forgot to add the little part of your brain that makes you like having various pastes and liquids and powders on your face.
So that’s why my idea of makeup is lip balm, which I get out of those travel packs airlines give. And I’m pretty happy about this… now. A few years ago, I felt inadequate. I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt invisible next to friends who knew how to put together an outfit that wasn’t jeans and a tshirt. I felt invisible next to friends who knew how to look all dolled up.
And then I grew up and started seeing that there’s no better or worse in these matters. If someone likes or feels more comfortable wearing makeup, that’s fine. But it’s also okay if someone doesn’t feel comfortable wearing makeup. What’s important is that you are happy and comfortable.
Home sweet home
I’m sure everyone, at some point or another, pictured what their perfect home would be like. My perfect home looked amazing. White walls, massive rooms, library, beautiful garden, two or three pets, loving family and a kitchen that was beyond amazing. I must confess that I have pictured grown-up-me scenarios like picnics with my future family or cooking dinner for everyone. This was my idea of home.
A few days ago, I pictured my perfect home. And what I saw was a small house, cozy and comfy, but most importantly, low maintenance. The smaller the house, the less cleaning to do, you know. And I saw myself come home to this house empty besides my cat. Tired after work, I would get into my pajamas, sit on a sofa, watching TV and being all classy by ‘sipping’ some wine.
And I thought: Oh I should get a sofa bed so I could just fall asleep while watching TV. And every Sunday, I’ll just make a lot of food so I don’t need to cook during the week.
And then it hit me how much my idea of a perfect home had changed. Sometime in the future, this will change, I suppose. I don’t want to be forty and living such a lonely life. But for now, I’d much rather have a small and empty-of-other-people house than a gorgeous house with everything I could ever want.
From our youngest days, we are required/forced/expected to have a belief system. It needn’t have been religious in nature or belonging to a particular religion. But we took bits and pieces from the religion we were born into, studied, chose, or the people we met, read about, associated, or the things we heard, saw, experienced. We picked up little bits and pieces from everywhere and slowly built this belief system that we believed in. And we look at the world through these beliefs, even if they aren’t ‘right’ according to the majority.
A few years ago, I found it difficult to accept that people had different beliefs to my own. I thought that my beliefs were those held by most people and that those who didn’t agree with me just needed some convincing. And other people thought this too, because there have been so many times where I’ve had to deal with people who tried to change my beliefs.
You see, we are told to look for what makes us alike instead of different. And so we equate similarities to unity or togetherness. We think that we can’t connect with someone unless we are alike. And beliefs are very important to all people, so we want to share the same beliefs as someone else.
Once you do some growing up, you realize that it is possible to be friends with people who aren’t totally like you. You see that you can keep a friend company while they shop for clothes even though you have zero interest in shopping. You find that your friend who doesn’t read is willing to go with you to buy books. You find that you can be friends with people, despite differences between the two of you. And this isn’t because having things in common with people is close to impossible, but because you become more tolerant and accepting about differences.
I remember being around 19 and being asked where I see myself in 10 years time. And oh boy the plans I had. This was with regard to my job but still. I had so many plans and goals and dreams. If you ask me now where I want for myself in 10 years time, I’d say that I just want to earn enough to be able to pay my bills and feed myself.
Priorities change as you go on in life. A few years ago, I was incredibly selfish. I thought my life was about me. It wasn’t my parents’ life, was it? I was here to do what I wanted to do. Now, it’s different. The way I think has changed. Before making a decision or doing something, I think about what it would mean to my family or friends. ‘Would this job allow me to spend enough time with family?’ or ‘if I take this course at university, it’ll be a bit too much for my family.’
I think that whole idea of independence and freedom when we turn 16 or 18 comes into play here. We see adulthood as being removed from our parents/families and we welcome this. We want to get away. A few years later, we realize that we’d rather be with them. We learn that freedom and independence doesn’t come at the price of your family. You can have both, as long as you manage to convince your family/parents to accept and understand that you are an adult and not a kid anymore.
Just a few years ago, I was a smartphone user. I needed to have access to Facebook and Twitter despite also using a tab which gave me access to these sites too. Being connected to people was of utmost importance.
It no longer is. I gave away the smartphone I used and replaced it with one that can only handle calls and messages. This isn’t to add to some hipster image, but because I found it annoying to always be connected to people. I stopped using Whatsapp, I only use Viber to transfer pics from Amma’s phone to mine and I ignore most messaging apps despite the red notification alerts.
I still rely on Twitter to keep me sane but it’s more about clearing my mind than talking with people. I prefer being by myself. I have no clue about the latest songs or films. My idea of Friday night fun is wasting data on YouTube.
Rewind to 2012, and you would have found me trying hard to fit into a lifestyle I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable with. I thought that being an adult meant staying out till late, partying till dawn and just living the life. Now I make use of every opportunity to sleep or be comfy in bed. And when my phone rings, do I pause the video I’m watching and answer the call? No. I ignore my phone and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Are we adults yet?
Silly old 15-year-old me thought that once you are 18, you are an adult and you will only do adult things. 18-year-old me thought I was an adult and was ready to leave my kid-self behind. 23-year-old me can’t wait for the opportunity to be a kid once more. I see candyfloss or pinwheels and I’m more excited than I am about the idea of doing something adult-ish.
And here’s what you realize when you feel super old when someone tells you they are sitting for their A/Ls just this year: being an adult isn’t something that turns you into a new person. You don’t go through this makeover.
You don’t suddenly know better just because you are legally an adult. There are days when I feel like a real adult and there are days when I feel 13-year-old me had more sense than I do now. And I know that 30 year old me will look at present-me and just laugh. And it’s okay. In ten years time (I’ll be 33!), I’ll read this post and wonder how stupid I was to think I knew what it meant to be an adult. And that’s okay, because right now, I can only know what 23-year-old me knows.
If I’m to use cats to describe adulthood, I thought being an adult meant that you could do whatever you wanted, just like a cat. You could disappear for days, leave home whenever you wanted to and you knew how to take care of yourself. But now, seeing how Jon just sleeps all day, waking up only for meals, I relate to him the most. Yes, there are adventures to go on, youth to enjoy, opportunities to be wild and free, but I’d much rather be comfy in bed, clicking on yet another cat video.