According to Wikipedia, being an adult is: “biologically: – a human being or other organism that has reached sexual maturity. In human context, the term adult additionally has meanings associated with social and legal concepts. In contrast to a “minor”, a legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible.”
However, we all know that these three things – independence, self-sufficiency and responsibility – come at different ages and time in life for young people, often depending on the course in life they may choose, opportunities that present themselves, success, determination, ability, want or motivation.
I’m not sure when I ‘officially’ became adult, I certainly know it wasn’t just when I attained a legal age, moved away from home, got my first car or got my first job. In those years my parents continued to support me, emotionally and financially…. It took me quite a while.
But I think its time to admit now, that at 37, I am actually an adult, in all meanings of the word. I own a house and pay for my own bills and holidays, I am an Auntie and a Godmother multiple times. I have a Will. I have my cat-child, Basil, and I am about to become a business owner.
I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’ve learnt, or accepted is the way things will be – because let’s face it, it’s not always easy. Here’s what I came up with:
1) You will lose touch with people. I thought that some of my university mates and first housemates were going to be my best friends forever, but relationships are hard to maintain. I have lost touch with at least a few of the people I expected to be around forever. Whilst it’s often been a conscious decision to let these people go, I do feel sad about this. But my real, best friends are still around.
2) You have to take responsibility for yourself. All the little things I took for granted as a child require quite a lot of effort. When I run out of shampoo, there isn’t magically be a new bottle waiting in the cabinet, until I buy it (unless my Mum has been to visit). My bills don’t get paid unless I do this and I won’t eat unless I work.
3) It takes longer to recover from a party / blow out. I still love to go out and have a drink and enjoy myself, but more often than not my friends and I will be home before midnight – and then the times that I’m not, it takes much longer to recover. A bottle of full-fat coke won’t fix the hangover anymore!
4) You will always have people in your life that you dislike. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, people you don’t like will find you. This could be at work, or that friend of a friend, or (god forbid) a friend’s husband, that you just can’t get on with. I’ve got them, everyone has. You just have to make sure they don’t spoil your day and ultimately, weigh up how important the job / other person is to you, and if it’s worth putting up with their bull****.
5) An emergency fund is vital. Whilst I haven’t been in the situation where this has been really desperate, even a change in job, or a house boiler breakdown, can mean you have a month with no income or a hefty expense to pay, it quickly shows how important this is.
6) You should understand your tax code. Sounds boring – but I’ve learnt the hard way that you should double and triple check them as they are almost always wrong (especially if you have benefits at work) and then your either owe, or are owed tax. It’s simpler to get it right at the start of the year.
7) You will have less free time. One of the great injustices is that as a teenager I had limitless amounts of time to fill with epic adventures, but no money to fund said adventures, and now, as an adult, I have the money to do what I want but no time with which to do it. Whilst working hard is important, we should also try to seize the day whenever we can and don’t be just all about the work. Life is about relationships and experiences and I want to do more of that.
8) Meditation can help ease the pressure of life’s busy-ness. I’m quite lucky because as a student I went to meditation classes run by a Buddhist Monk in Cardiff. He taught us how to meditate using the full body scan technique. The body scan as a way to get in touch with the body, let go of feelings of needing to get stuff done, and release pent-up emotions. I find that, when my brain is full, I’m juggling a lot and I can’t sleep or I am starting to panic, that undertaking this exercise can really help. This is a good example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsCVqFr6j1g
9) Wear what you want. I love clothes. I probably love patterns and pink a little too much. But I have learnt not to worry about what others think. Don’t try and squeeze yourself into the same jeans or look like everyone else. People don’t remember you if you blend into the crowd.
To prove this point – here are my cat shoes!