Adulting is hard.
So hard, in fact, that the other day I decided to quit being an adult for the day and ate an entire tray of brownies instead. Maybe you know the feeling- when the responsibilities start to pile up and you can’t seem to find a place to start so instead you’re paralyzed with fear.
Instead of paying your bills or making decisions the only acceptable solution seems to be a tray of brownies.
Adulting is hard. The act of being an adult is really scary. In fact, I’m trying to adult right now and I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.
Because adulting is hard and there isn’t a formula. There’s no perfect way to be an adult. The pressure is off. Do we have to grow up? Absolutely. It’s time to get off of mom’s couch and start paying our own damn bills.
Do we have to do it the same way as everyone else and let comparison aka the perfect Instagram feed rob our joy? Nope, absolutely not.
Adulting is hard because everything is right.
Since you’re setting the pace you’re also setting the direction. Unless you’ve just fallen into complete moral depravity I would venture to say the reason adulting feels so overwhelming is because there aren’t any wrong decisions these days.
We’re often faced with two perfectly acceptable options.
There’s nothing wrong with staying close to home or with moving to a new city. There’s nothing wrong with living alone or finding some new roommates. There’s nothing inherently bad about quitting a job or staying put for a while.
Previously everything was black and white but suddenly the adult world is more like 100 shades of grey. 50 doesn’t even come close to the ambiguity and uncertainty we’re dealing with here.
Factor in things like fear of missing out (FOMO) or fear of better options (FOBO) and it’s a recipe to get paralyzed by fear. Which is why I often turn to a plate of brownies to drown my insecurities.
But brownies run out and we’re still faced with decisions to make. Whenever I exit my brownie stupor I try to do two things:
1. Say Thank You
2. Scout the Horizon
I say thank you because it’s impossible for both fear and gratitude to co-exist in the brain. So if I’m focused on being grateful for the two great options in front of me then I physically can’t entertain anxiety at the same time. The more thankful I am for my situation (or situation) the less likely I am to get stuck in one place crying in the fetal position over life-altering decisions.
Afterwards I start scouting the horizon. There are a few points on the horizon that I’m always trying to move towards. These points are people not places. Some of my points are authors or creatives I really admire. Some are just my friends who support me in incredible ways. Some points are the person I aspire to be. The key is they’re all people, both real and imaginative, rather than places.
I ask myself if my decision is in the direction of those points on the horizon. If it’s not, then I can’t go there. Having some pretty clear points in front of me helps keep me focused. Now, I don’t have every step of the way mapped out. That’s another hard thing about adulting…
Adulting is hard because there’s no timeline.
Before adulthood everything was nicely spaced out. You had a few years in between really big and life-altering decisions. There were 4 years to pick a college, 2 years to declare a major, and then 2 more years to decide what in the hell to do post grad.
There were really great deadlines that gave us some breathing room.
But now, as an adult, there’s no formula for our deadlines. We could work in the same job for the next 10 months or the next 10 years. If we’re dating we could date forever or get engaged right away or break up in 6 months. We can rent a house until kingdom come or we can buy. There aren’t any graduation dates or letters of intent or numbers that are pre-determined and attached to our lives.
We get to finally set the pace.
Which is both terrifying and freeing all at once. If you need to go slower then you absolutely can. If you want to sprint right out of the gate then that’s fair too. But no matter what we have to set timelines and goals or else things will never get done. We’ll just aimlessly wander around in our lives bumping into opportunities and wondering if we should grab hold of them.
Once you’ve picked your point on the horizon it’s up to you to get there. The beauty is you can walk, crawl, or run towards it at your own speed. I recommend traveling there holding someone rather than something. In fact, I would venture to say the journey there is probably the best part- the journey is so unpredictable but at least you’re headed somewhere with someone.
Finally, adulting is hard because we must say goodbye.
In order to get towards those points on the horizon you have to get up and go. Again, it’s all at your own pace, but you’ve got to move forward or you’ll never get there. Which means we often have to say goodbye.
We’re either saying goodbye to a dream, to a season of life, to a relationship, or to the person we once were. Adulting requires forward momentum and we can’t always carry everything with us. In fact, the purpose of the journey is to pack light.
Saying goodbye is hard because it means we’ve lived and loved and lost something along the way.
But it allows us room to see the next point on the horizon. Room to invite someone in. Room to live open-handed instead of clutching some things we held a little too dear.
Adulting hard because we have to learn how to grieve and no one wants to be well-versed in grief.
Which means I need to be brave right now and say goodbye.
As I move towards some of my points on the horizon I have to get up and go as well. I’m putting some of the final touches on my chapter here in Memphis. I’m writing in some of the last words for this season, for this city, for these people who I’ve held so dear. I grew up in Memphis, in every way possible, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
But I have some more growing up to do. Because our work adulting is never finished. Honestly, I hope I’m never finished. I hope I never arrive. I hope I’m always learning to lean into the hard and messy and beautiful moments adulthood brings. I hope I never get so caught up in the decisions that I miss out on the drama of it all, the stories we’re writing, and the places we’re going and the people we’re becoming in the process.