“I hope Teddy can come with me when I move into Buckingham Palace.”
10 Things You Got Wrong About Adulthood
1. Sure, you can eat anything you want, but you have to pay for it.
-Fact: food generally costs money (unless you’re stealing, and that’s a whole different can of worms). Another fact: unless you’re one of the lucky few, you’re not gonna have much money your first few years of adulthood. Add those two truths together and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some pretty crappy eating habits. As a kid, I bet you had plenty of occasions to look at the stir-fry or liver on your plate and think: “When I’m a grownup, I’m gonna have Lucky Charms and Oreos for dinner every night!” Fast-forward fifteen years and, it turns out, you might not have been too far off. Except those Lucky Charms are store brand “Marshmallows and Stars”, Oreos are practically a luxury at nearly four bucks a package and what you crave now are fresh fruits and whole grain pastas. You can now eat all the sugar and mac ‘n cheese you want, with not a vegetable in sight. But that’s not so much your choice as the fact that those are the only things you can afford. You’d practically commit a felony for a couple fresh heads of broccoli and Mom’s dinners are now precious events, to be looked forward to all week. So yeah, you can technically eat what you want when you want, but you’re only gonna be happy about it if what you want is “pasteurized cheese product” on stale bread for breakfast lunch and dinner. Bon appetite kids!
2. Just because you can drive doesn’t mean you can go anywhere, anytime.
-You’ve got your license and perhaps even a car of your own. But, between the ever-climbing price of gas and your day-to-day commitments, your drives are severely limited. I know I wasn’t the only kid to dream about driving cross-country on a whim. Now, though, the very thought is enough to induce a headache, what with all the logistical complications it brings. How do I pay for all that gas (not to mention hotels, if I don’t relish sleeping in the car)? When can I afford to take that many vacation days? Who’s gonna watch my cat? Like it or not, access to a car is often correlated to a host of obligations and financial considerations, all of which prove to be one hell of an obstacle to your ability to joyride.
3. You are not going to marry a prince or princess (unless you’re Kate Middleton. In which case: I’m so excited you’re reading this! What’s Queen Elizabeth really like? Ever heard her fart?)
-I’m not sure how many girls and boys have secretly harbored this fantasy but, as a twenty-three year old who has just recently given up all hope of beguiling Prince Harry with my charm, I can essentially promise you it’s not gonna happen. I know I sound like a Sadsack Sally, and I’m not saying it could never happen, but don’t pin your future plans on your dream of becoming royalty. That’s a great way to wind up twenty-eight, living with your parents and spending too much time conversing with your cat. So, don’t eschew your daydreams entirely (what else would you think about at work?), but put them on the backburner and let them simmer for a while (like the rest of your life).
4. A lot of things you hate about your appearance will get better with age, but you’re not gonna outgrow everything.
-Yes girls, most of you will get boobs (tell me what that’s like when you do). And boys, hair will start growing practically everywhere, I assure you. Your acne should clear up and your teeth are gonna look great once your braces come off. However, you might never grow into your head, your nose might never get any thinner and some people just carry their weight in their midsection. I don’t want to crush any dreams, but it’s an undeniable truth that some pieces of your body are here to stay, so you might as well get used to them. (This is not even to mention the whole host of new body issues that will arise as you continue to age – think beer bellies, saddle bags and receding hairlines.) My advice: make your peace now and try to stop beating yourself up about what you can’t change (much easier in theory than practice, but worth a shot nonetheless).
5. Other, older adults aren’t going to treat you as equals quite yet.
-Most will probably treat you with respect but, honestly, how can they see you as an adult if you barely see yourself as one? Nope, meetings with your boss will still feel like being called to the Principal’s office and you won’t be able to call your friends’ parents by their first names, no matter how many times they tell you to. You might find yourself seeing eye-to-eye with your mailman or having conversations with the guy who works in the deli, but you can bet your ass you’ll flash right back to adolescence every time you run into one of your old high school teachers.
6. A college degree is a wonderful thing, but it absolutely does not guarantee a career.
-If you graduate with a Bachelor’s in business or computer science, you may just be good to go. If you’re like me, however, and choose passion over practicality (and forethought), there’s every chance you could wind up with a B.S. in Human Development in a packing tube on your bookshelf while you work as a nanny and apply to graduate schools with abandon. (If you can’t tell, this one cuts close to home.) So please, if you can and so desire, go to college and earn yourself a degree. Just try not to be flabbergasted if you haven’t begun contributing to your 401k by 23.
7. Without realizing it, you are steadily becoming less and less cool.
-You swore up and down, when you were a kid, that you’d never be boring like your parents and their friends. You couldn’t fathom their inability to understand the allure of AIM and their hatred of N’Sync was practically sacrilegious. I know that I promised myself, more than once, that I’d never lose track of the latest trends, never stop caring about pop culture. And yet, it hasn’t been ten years since my last oath and I’ve already become hopelessly clueless in the face of teen fashion. Why anyone ever says YOLO or gives a rat’s ass about which One Direction kid may have kissed which Disney channel star is utterly beyond my comprehension. I have little doubt that my thirteen year old self would be loathe to be seen with me in the halls of my middle school.
8. You’re never too young to start feeling like you’ll never accomplish anything.
-How many of you have ever seen pictures of Miley Cyrus vacationing in France or Justin Bieber boarding his tour bus and thought: “Shit, I’m older than her/him (not to mention a hell of a lot less stupid) and I haven’t got any of that”? Your early twenties are when you start comparing your achievements to those around you, berating yourself for your shortcomings (seven of the kids from your high school class are married and two have kids; what are you doing with your life?). Even though you still qualify for your parents’ insurance, you find yourself doubting your ability to ever make something of yourself. Been there, believe me. Just try to remember that three of those seven kids are gonna be divorced by your ten year reunion and at least one of those babies was unplanned and you’ll start feeling better about your own life in no time.
9. Being an “adult” doesn’t mean you necessarily feel like one.
-Every kid thinks grownups have it all together. You probably all imagined you’d be able to do practically anything when you were an adult (including curing cancer, folding fitted sheets and any number of other potentially life-altering feats). Turns out, getting your shit together is a lot more of an on-going process than something that happens all of a sudden; for a good number of us, I’m beginning to expect, it never really happens at all. I bet I’m not the only twenty-something who still defers tax questions to her dad or spends more on alcohol each month than groceries. No kids, you won’t just wake up one day in a four-bedroom Victorian with a 9-5 job that offers full benefits. And even if you do someday achieve those things, you’ll still probably love slip ‘n slides and water balloon fights and have no effing idea how to fold that damn fitted sheet.
10. Adults are absolutely capable of making fools of themselves.
-As a kid, whenever I committed some egregious error in judgment, revealing to all the world what an idiot I was, I would comfort myself with the knowledge that someday, when I was grown, I wouldn’t make an ass of myself anymore. I watched my parents and the other grownups around me and thought they seemed so in control, so self-assured. What I know now is that I was horribly mistaken. If anything, the older you get, the more stupid you can make yourself look, if you’re not careful. Adults are generally adept at hiding these mistakes from children, but who hasn’t, since entering adulthood, seen a relative make a total fool of him/herself? It’s practically a rite of passage (albeit a slightly disconcerting one) to watch your Aunt fall asleep at the dinner table after two too many Tequila shots or to look on as your Dad’s friend drunkenly flirts (shamelessly and horribly unsuccessfully) with girls barely older than you. It’s unnerving to see people you used to think were practically infallible making dumb mistakes and poor decisions. The upside, though, is that you can stop feeling quite so stupid when you make questionable choices of your own. You might be a grownup now, but you never stop being human.