Every time I sit down to write a blog post I do a fair amount of introspection (the examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes). That's why it takes me so long, I take the time to really evaluate how I deal with each topic I write about.
I feel like we'll never truly understand adulthood. It's not like you have this breakthrough moment and say..."hey this is the moment, I'm an adult!". We have just accumulated ideologies from society and from others that adulthood consists of certain thoughts, actions and materialistic items that start to separate you from your younger self. I learned about the 'adulthood' phase during my human developmental class, but realistically, we are all different...we all have a different journey to adulthood.
You can vote at 18, smoke cigarettes at 19, drink at 21, rent a car at 25...so what's the age you reach adulthood?
Well, it's a different experience for each individual. Some people develop into adulthood sooner than others due to situations in their life that can't be handled by their younger self. Some lack the ability to reach adulthood when they should. There are all different sides of the spectrum that environment and circumstances play a role in. The reality of growing up can be scary, therefore, for some there are some development stages that are not reached because of that fear. Adulthood can be scary on an array of different levels. It's the realism that you're getting older, for some it may be realizing that life is a lot different than you imaged, you're not invincible and that one day you'll die, just like everyone else (it's a freedom to remind yourself you have to live this life for today.) With growing up life changes and typically your perspective changes as well. The people you surround yourself with will change and often the question we should start getting used to is, "who am I?" because you're constantly changing throughout your lifetime and finding yourself.
There are certain things that should be addressed to help you move through adulthood because as scary as it is, it's beautiful...adulthood gives you the ability to be the maker of your life, you control the people you surround yourself with, the places you see, the career you want, the love you need, the adventures you go on, the happiness you seek...You can change yourself or your life whenever you want...you control your life.
Here are some things to remember to help you with adulthood...
Responsibility. Being responsible in adult life is realizing the things you need; food, water, shelter, human interaction...and the things you want whatever they may be; money, children, a house, a certain car, ability to travel. Being responsible is understanding that you're not always going to be able to get what you want because you have to take care of what you need first...and that's okay. As an adult you now have the ability to get the things you've always wanted, but getting these 'wants' should never be at the cost of your true happiness. Material happiness will only last for a short time, while true self-happiness will last your lifetime and that is far more valuable. Life will get hard...to fulfill the responsibilities you have can sometimes come with immense stress...you might want to stop and forget about your struggles. However, life is all about balance...the joy of having your life comes with the responsibilty that you also have to take care of yourself.
Being an adult does not mean you know everything....it's actually quite the opposite. Adulthood is realizing we know so little and every day we can learn something about people and about the world. Start to realize that it's possibile your views or opinions aren't always right and you could benefit by listening to those around you. There is so much for you to learn and being adult means realizing that you will never stop learning.
Being Open. Being an adult does not mean that you agree with what every person says to you or what ideologies you have been brought up with, it means to have the capability to be open, to listen to what others say and to start to formulate your own opinions on the world, on politics, and on important issues. Try and remmeber we all have varying opinions on the world due to a number of reasons, instead of reacting negatively when a person does not agree or have the same values...understand that we all different which is why you are blessed to live in the world you do. You don't have to be friends with everyone.
Setting Boundaries. Know when you must set boundaries for people; employees, friends, co-workers, family. Boundaries are important because you might find yourself giving and giving and then you're all out of care to give yourself. Setting boundaries means learning to be assertive, not mean (there is a big difference between these two). Setting a boundary could help prevent you from certain experiences where you didn't feel happy after, it allows you to not feel that way again. It also allows people to understand that you have your own life and you need to do what you need to do to enjoy it. Boundaries are good!
Being an adult means knowing what makes you happy...knowing when to say YES or NO. This is your life, I'm going to repeat...THIS IS YOUR LIFE and if you're going to stress yourself out with things you don't want to do that's your decision, but you have the capabilty to say no. I understand the amount of difficulty it can be to say no to someone or a situation, but the honest truth is at the end of the day this is YOUR LIFE, you have to know what serves you and what doesn't. If certain situations are going to cost you mental energy and make you riddled with anxiety then who the heck are you doing it for...another person? You have to try and stop that habit right now, do not become a people pleaser. You won't be living your life for you when you're always living your life for other people.
Adapting. There's going to be an array of different situations that happen in your life. Some things that you never expected, some horrible, sad, frustrating, painful, heart-wrenching things...but on the otherhand, some beautiful, magical, heart-lifting memoriable moments. If you want to thrive in adulthood you have to start learning to adapt to your siutuations. You need to be able to grasp that change is inevtiable and as I've stated in the past, change is the only constant in life. Life is going to have twists and turns that will make you feel like you've been taken off track, but realistically this is all part of your journey, you're not off track at all. You can't expect your journey to be easy, each moment, good or bad situation will push you to change and to see this life differently. You must learn healthy coping skills that help you through the hardest situations as well as learn to stay present and enjoy all those great moments. You either adapt and enjoy life at different angles or stay bound by chains that never let you grow and leave you feeling helpless.
Embrace the quality of your relationships, not the quantity! It's hard when life's journey takes you on a rollercoaster ride of events, places, jobs, people...sometimes it can be extremely hard to keep up with relationships. However, there are people that no matter how long the distance or time spent away absolutely nothing changes when you come together with them which is a clear indictor those are solid relationships. Relationships need to make you feel good when you leave them, happy and supported. Those relationships understand and inspire you to do your own thing and work on yourself. If there are some relationships you find that aren't doing this, think about moving on. Realistically, you can only keep a handful of people close to you through your journey.
Knowing how to thoroughly make decisions. Are you going to make all the right decisions? Hell no! You are human and sometimes you allow the feelings or the imagery of something to affect your decision-making. However, in adulthood, you have the ability to distinguish between making decisions based on feelings and based on intelligence. You can often fail at making the smart decision because you are wrapped up in your emotions. Try and take a step back when making decisions and think about where your decision-making is coming from; emotions or intelligence. As an adult, you now can start to carry yourself with more integrity and start to develop your own principles and moral values. Start making decisions based on all the values you have established and/or created for yourself.
There is NO TIMELINE. As wonderful as becoming an adult can be, it also comes with a lot of pressures. It appears that as a society we have developed these ideas that you must get a great job, get married, have a family, have a house...an adult checklist if you will. I'm telling you right now, lose the norms you think you have to follow. This is your journey and you need to do what you need to do to make yourself happy. Whether that be living alone, renting for the rest of your life, taking your time reaching goals, traveling, never getting married, never having children, working for nothing, having tons of animals, never going to college, getting a bunch of degrees...there is absolutely no checklist for you! You make your own checklist! Think about YOU, what makes YOU happy...if you're on the road to that, that's all that matters.
Changing your behaviors! This is a big one! I hear people day in and day out state how they were raised and why they are the way they are. Well, as an adult you don't have your childhood holding you back anymore. Anything that you find negative about yourself or a behavior that impacts your daily life...you can change. How you go about changing is recognizing the thoughts or behaviors that are causing you problems in your life...every time you see or feel these thoughts or behaviors coming on...start to become self-aware and counteract it with a positive behavior. Slowly, but surely I can tell you-you can change your behaviors. This means a lot of self-awareness, playing situations back to remind you what you don't want the outcome to be, being accountable and admit when you're failing, but never stop trying...that's always all you can do.
Adulthood is realizing what things are worth it and what things aren't...it's realizing the importance of being grateful for the things you have and understanding the things you want. Realizing that you are in control of your life, you hold all the power to make your life better or to make it worse. Understanding that you are no longer a product of your environment, your family, your friends, your education, you are a product of WHAT YOU WANT TO BE. You make the choices, regardless if they are hard or not, you have to make the changes to benefit you. Being a good person is hard...life is only getting harder from this point on.