Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, compared to my child imagination. When the internet goes down, I can’t just shout “dad the wifi isn’t working” anymore, because the person who has to fix it is me. Likewise, when the fridge malfunctions, I can’t keep ignoring the problem hoping it will somehow go away (as much as I would like to).
There are a lot of seemingly small things that coincidentally add up to a lot of big things, which adults have to do on a day-to-day basis. Who knew when I signed up to adulthood that there would be so much cleaning involved? You just hope one day the dishes would stop. Hunger becomes an annoying bodily signal you have to tend to when you would rather just lie on the couch. When I’m sick, I basically have to split into two people, where I am simultaneously a congested child and the mother who has to nurse her at the same time.
I couldn’t wait to grow up when I was a kid. I would read Girlfriend and Dolly magazines when I was a pre-tween, and would gawk at how much cooler and rebellious teenagers were compared to me. And then when I was a teenager, I idolized my early 20s as some aesthetic rom-com movie, where I would be courted by dazzling men, have a budding social life itinerary, and worked in a prestigious creative career with a salary paying for my New York penthouse apartment.
Fast forward to nearly 24 and I certainly have no clue what the f*ck I am doing. The greatest lie they sold to me as a child was that I would one day wake up and feel like I’m an adult. The older I get, the more I’m realizing that day is never coming. Even now, when I look at people who are 30, 40, 50 even, they ain’t go no clue what the f*ck they’re doing either. I think it’s only once you hit 60 that you make peace with it.
I guess I thought my life would look very different to what I’ve experienced in reality. I also thought I would feel different. The truth is, I don’t feel that much different to when I was 12 years old to how I do now. The only difference is I’ve had more life experience and know a few more things about the world. But my fundamental Self is still the same. She still wants a lot of the same things – she wants to write, read, travel the world, meet new people, have close friends. She still loves going on rollercoasters and the colour blue. She is still a dog over cat person and her favourite meal is a hamburger (now it’s vegetarian) and fries.
I personally think all adults are walking around pretending to be purposeful and serious and know where they’re heading. They have plans for climbing corporate ladders, visions for property ownership and how many kids they want by 30. Because these are the things we should want as adults, right? This is the path, the job, the relationship, that qualifies me as an adult, so I’ve been told.
What if the truth is, we never had certainty and we never will? That the perceived control we have over our lives once we reach “adulthood” is an illusion?
To use a Shrek analogy—because Shrek is the ultimate symbol of my Zillennial childhood—adults are like layers. When you’re born into the world as a fresh little human, you are simple and bare. As you move through life, your experiences become layers which form your identity and perceived concept of Self. So as an adult, you have a lot more layers than your 10 year-old Self. But you don’t magically enter into the gates of adulthood with a manual or certification that proves you’re qualified. It’s honestly just a lot of fumbling around in the dark, hopefully with some friends who can also share their strategies for blindly navigating life too.
Despite my life not looking exactly like what I imagined it would as a child, I still feel gratified by it. To be fair, I have had a lot of those cliché teenager and young 20s experiences. But then I have also had a lot experiences which are unique and totally outside of the spectrum of coming-of-age movies, which have been just as beautiful. Or conversely, difficult but character building and adult affirming.
As much as sometimes I would love to be a child again, to enjoy it fully instead of forever looking towards the future, it does feel better to have independence and freedom as an adult.
Well now I’ve gotten that off my chest, I got to figure out how fix my darn fridge… nothing like writing a self-indulgent essay about adulthood as a way to procrastinate actual #adulting.
Image: Laura Chouette