I’m not big into ‘shoulds’ – you do you, the world will adjust. However, if you’re still wondering how this adulting thing works, here are a few things I wish I’d nailed before the ripe old age of 34 and a bit.
Things that make me feel like a big old grown up wizened bearded wonder.
Most of it is wisdom acquired in the last 18 months. Strap in, it might be bumpy. Like life.
You Really Can Choose Who You Spend Time With
I know, game changer. Ironically, as ‘shit at boundaries’ makes every single one of my bios, setting strong boundaries is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
In practice this means not investing your energy with those who drain you or just make you feel a bit crap. Whoever just popped unbidden into your mind and made you shudder – start there, spend a little less time investing and see what a difference it makes. Life is richer with a smaller, more loving, engaged circle of good eggs than a vast spread of acquaintances you have to work at being with. You’ll probably have more meaningful relationships with those few too, imagine.
Mediocrity Is Bullshit
Mediocrity is part of the human condition – oftentimes we feel safest in the middle of the road, bumbling along and there isn’t much wrong with that, it’s comfortable. But in avoiding the crushing lows you are also denying yourself the beautiful, heart lifting highs. Those deathbed moments you’re eternally glad happened.
It takes huge great kahunas to say no to mediocrity – to leave the job that is safe but not serving you, to confess your secret love, to open yourself up creatively, to stop toe tapping from the sidelines and launch yourself into the middle of the dancefloor like no-one is watching.
A very wise man once gave me the analogy of black and white vs HD. However scary it is, you can choose to live your life in glorious technicolour and it’s not a choice you’ll ever regret. Sure, sometimes it will suck balls but the peaks will far outweigh the troughs. This I know to be true.
Kindness Is Not
We don’t need to spend time with this one right? You know kindness is not optional. This isn’t something I’ve learned recently but i like to shoehorn it in.
Everyone Would Benefit from Therapy
EV. E. RY. ONE.
We make all kinds of half arsed attempts at keeping our bodies in some semblance of functionality (lay off the pies, do your 10,000 steps, job done), if we gave our minds at least the same amount of care the world would be a much nicer place. Full of fully functioning, emotionally healthy, excellent communicators with a firm handle on their shit.
Adulting Is Subjective. And Unnecessary.
People bloody love a milestone don’t they? Society* tells us often that by my ripe old age we should be married, home owning parents with a rescue hound an Ocado account (that is a very narrow view of adulting, I know this. Ocado don’t even deliver here).
Do not let social expectations of being an adult stop you doing it your way. If you find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, the power to change it is all yours. Create your own version of adulthood, mine rather unsurprisingly looks like a four year old puked it up: felt tips, freedom, star gazing, skipping, accepting everything, boundless optimism, full of adventure and calling random strangers ‘mum’.
Relax. Accept that No-One Else Knows What They’re Doing Either.
The number of things that we have real, meaningful control over is miniscule. Everything else is subject to change without prior notice: there are no refunds, no local papers to write a strongly worded letter to, no complaints team giving a shit.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t make life plans and chuck yourself wholeheartedly into achieving them but sticking rigidly to a pre-defined path only sets a humanoid up for disappointment. It is beyond liberating to accept that change is inevitable, that permanence is a myth and that the thing you can control is your decision to relax into it or battle against it. Don’t do the latter, it is exhausting and rarely works.
Love Yourself First and Foremost. Not like that (definitely a bit like that).
Learn this one fast, it’s much harder the older you get to re-prioritise yourself. Practice a little selfishness every day, whatever that looks like for you. Far. Out.
Bonus quick fire round:
Say hi to more dogs. All the dogs. Dogs.
Make time to play.
Cheap wine is a false economy.
You are enough.
Nappy rash cream is excellent for healing tattoos and inadvertent facial trauma.
Start saving into a pension (feel that? That was reality slapping you right across the face. Sorry).