Today is my 20th birthday. The end of my teenage years. The end of an era.
Not being a teenager any more means I’m officially an adult, which is a daunting thought. I don’t quite know how to deal with becoming an adult, or even acting like one, really.
The problem with getting older is that one day you’re at school, everything is hunky dory, and you’ve only got your GCSE’s to worry about. Then the next day you’re in Year 13, hoping you do well enough to get into your university of choice. Then, after what seems like a week later, you’re halfway through your university course, realising you’re going to be applying for jobs in the next year, and deciding what the hell to do with your life without the comfort of an education system to dictate your days.
I don’t know how to do taxes, sort out a mortgage, cook meals that aren’t pasta-based, or how to fix household things when they break. Adult life seems hard, and from what I have heard, I am not cut out for it.
For those of you worried about adult life, I have tried to compile some steps to make that transition a little easier:
#1 Looking the part.
I figured a step in the right direction would be to stop having blue hair. It seemed like a good idea as I do not know many adults with blue hair.
Dying my hair grey did not make me feel any older, did not really work, and did not give me any newfound wisdom. Step one was not a success.
#2 Evaluate recent experiences which made you grow up, and learn from them.
I remember feeling so nervous when my parents
abandoned dropped me off at Liberty Quays last September. I had cooked about 10 meals for myself up to that point, barely knew how to operate a washing machine, and had got used to the comforts of a dish washer. First year definitely gave me some ‘adult points’ (that’s a thing now). I learnt a lot about how to take care of myself (surviving the plague on my own was a big step), and how to live independently. Despite all this, I still didn’t feel much more like an adult than I did a year before. I just know how to do more stuff to keep myself alive.
It’s halfway through second year now. The only way I possibly could have gained adult points this year, is that I now start my assignments when they are set. That has saved me a lot of sleepless nights getting essays done. I don’t feel like I’m any more of an adult than I was when I was 18.
Have I learnt much from this? Probably not.
#4 Ask an adult (and maybe a child) for help.
I asked a cousin about growing up. We have had similar conversations when I was 11 and she was 18 (I was worried about getting old then, too), and again more recently. She said that even now, engaged and taking out a mortgage, she has never really felt like an adult. This was not the answer I was hoping for. I was expecting some kind of secret I could share you, but alas, NOTHING.
I then asked another cousin about growing up. She’s fairly similar to me: on her 10th birthday she complained she was getting old. I asked how she thought that made me feel, at 19 – she did not seem to care. She seems to think I am an adult. I asked her why, and she said ‘You’re old’.
This step has also not helped me in any way.
#5 Try to find out what the essence of an adult is.
So far nothing has worked, so I have changed my approach. What even makes an adult? My parents’ response of ‘acting like one’ did not help.
After hours of
procrastinating thinking about how to be an adult, I realised, the adults I know and myself may have more similarities than differences. We’re both making mistakes, cooking meals, stressing about work, going out, balancing work and leisure, and still trying to figure out life.
#6 Work out if you are, in fact, already an adult.
It is possible that I became an adult without realising. That’s as comforting as it is scary. I still don’t know how to navigate my life, but plenty of adults don’t, and they’re okay, and so am I. I think.
#7 Come to terms with adulthood.
You’ve got time by Regina Spektor is now in my head as I think about how much time I have left at university to decide what I’m going to do with my life. Part of being an adult is probably being mature about your decisions and not panicking and deciding to eat ice cream despite your lactose intolerance whenever there is a bump in the road. Or, fake it ‘til you make it.
If I’ve become an adult without realising it, maybe my 20’s won’t be so bad.