How to Do ‘Adulting’ the Right Way
‘Adulting’ isn’t hard if you allow yourself to enjoy the little perks that come with being an adult.
Adulting is hard! That is a complaint I’ve heard far and wide across the vast majority of my peers. Nobody wants to deal with adult responsibilities like having a job to only make a living, paying bills, obtaining a mortgage, and then having to make payments on that mortgage, yikes! It’s all extremely stressful, but nothing a glass of wine at the end of the day can’t solve, right? Am I right? In all seriousness, I have been in the stressful bubble of everyday life, but I’ve come to discover that as I get older I look more forward to the little perks that come with age and wisdom. These highlights have caused me to say plenty of times ‘yes, these are the best years so far of my life.’ It wasn’t easy to get to this point though.
I suffered a lot of financial crisis and dealt with more crappy jobs and uphill climbs than I’d have liked to. There were nights that the anxiety and stress would practically suffocate me, and it was almost impossible to see any silver lining. I often wondered if this how my life is always going to be? I couldn’t see past the clouds into my future. My husband always instilled hope in me though by reassuring me that no, it wasn’t always going to be like that. It was temporary, and I just had to be patient and trust that at some time in our lives we would find a point where it was okay to take a breath and relax a little. These moments took time to get to, but they are achievable. Here’s a short list of how I’ve managed to find joy at this time in my life.
Stop Caring So Much
This might sound a bit harsh, but it is necessary. Often we dwell and obsess over what society will think of us and how they view us. This came on full force when we entered middle school and high school. Fitting in was important, and being different wasn’t acceptable to our classmates. This urge and need to feel accepted carried on with me, and I’m sure many others as we went into our early 20s. If we just tried a little harder to fit the mold then people would like us and accept us. Wrong! People will like and accept you for the true you. Embrace your weirdness, and don’t be afraid to be your true self. As we get older the desire to continue to fit in drops. For the longest time, I wanted to have different colored hair, mermaid hair to be exact, but I always talked myself out of it. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and was afraid people wouldn’t hire me or accept me for being so, ‘colorful.’ Finally deciding to have my hair done how I wanted it was a perk and highlight in my life. It made me happy, and that is all that truly matters.
Stray From Your Routines
We all have these routines that we follow as a way to keep everything in order and keep the flow going with our day today. My thing was that if I didn’t do the laundry on Sunday then I was going to screw up my whole week because at some point I’d have to sacrifice time in my already packed week to do the laundry. That would cause dinner to be done late, and then I probably wouldn’t get it all finished by bedtime, I’d miss out on sleep and everything would just keep snowballing. No! Stop it! It’s easier to use strategy than routine sometimes. Sit outside and enjoy the true perks of a lazy day. Don’t feel guilty for vegging out on the couch with snacks and not getting things done on your routine checklist. I’d always stress over not being productive on my days off from work, but then I started having free days where I let that laundry sit for another day, and I’d order take out instead of cook dinner. You must teach yourself that you’re not guilty or a bad person for not completing tasks or being productive on your days off. Think of it as a mental health break. Wear your pajamas, sleep in, watch episodes of a series on Netflix you’ve been putting off instead of running to the grocery stores, or cleaning the entire house, just say screw it at least once or twice maybe even three times a month!
Set Smaller Goals for Yourself
The question we often got growing up was ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ The pressure we put on ourselves in our younger years to reach our career goals oftentimes caused us to make some tough decisions. Staying in to finish homework was the main thing because without good grades we didn’t graduate and become what we said we wanted to be when we grew up. Long-term goals are always good to have, but short-term ones are easier and quicker to achieve. They keep you inspired and give you a sense of achievement once you reach them. For me, a short-term goal I’ve set is to write at least once a week, and the long-term goal is to finish a novel. I always would beat myself down in the past for never finishing something I started, because the bar I was setting was much higher than I could reach. Setting smaller goals as stepping stones to achieving the long-term goal help to ease your mind and give you all those positive feelings and satisfaction once you’ve done them.
Indulge Now and Then
This one is an absolute must when it comes to the small perks of happiness in your life. Climbing the ladders to success in our early years was tough. It came with commitment, and focus, as well as lots of sacrifices. The tears I shed after working double shifts as a waitress are no joke. Being young and tight on money gave you that intense feeling of FOMO. The positive I got from these times was learning how to budget. This skill will carry on with you later in life, and you’ll use it to take the opportunity to indulge at least once or twice a month. Having the ability and freedom to do so is the key to brightening your day. You don’t have to ask anyone permission to buy that higher-end product, buy that limited edition version instead of the regular one, add guacamole to your Chipotle burrito! If you budget it then don’t stress about the purchase. We trained our brains in our earlier days to count every coin in our account to get to this point. If spending money on products isn’t your idea of indulging find your version of indulgent. Take that hour soak in the bathtub, go for a long hike outdoors, have cake for breakfast, wake up early before the kids and go have brunch with a friend. Reward yourself as you see fit after all the hard work you did to climb that ladder.
Eat at an Upscale Restaurant
This one can easily tie in with the above suggestion of indulging, but there are some differences here. The satisfaction you get from a quality meal is an experience all on its own. Hear me out! I could never afford a fancy steakhouse in my earlier days, and my younger self was so focused on budgeting and saving that the idea of dropping $50 and above on a steak dinner was kind of laughable. What could the fancy high-end place give me that I couldn’t get from Applebees? No shade to Applebees, but I’m just going to say it, quality. You can learn life skills from this if you have no background in cooking. You can follow a recipe and make a mean casserole, but there are ingredients that you can use to take something good and make it even better. Experiencing truffle butter, and goat cheese was a game-changer for me. I learned how to take mac and cheese to a new level and called it 'Adult Mac and Cheese'. Eating at an upscale restaurant for our 10th anniversary inspired me to be a better cook at home. If it doesn’t do that for you, then do it for the experience if not for the truffle butter. It gives you the sense of finally leaving the kids' table and sitting at the adult table. Embrace the experience and try it at least once.
Spend Time With Family and Friends
In our youth we moved and hustled a mile a minute, cancelling plans or postponing things for a later time was a constant. Being older now I look forward to seeing close friends and family. With the pandemic it’s been hard to do this, so don’t take this opportunity for granted whenever it’s available to you. Having a dinner party with your friends, taking a vacation together, talking about life, work, kids, and laughing together is a celebration all on its own. This is my number one perk for happiness, surround yourself with those who bring out the light within you. Take the attention off your phones and TV to truly be in the moment with people who love and appericiate your company. Celebrate the fact that even though you still have to adult, you can at least do it with other adults who you relate to.
These five tips have helped me with the hardships we face as full grown adults. When I look back at my early 20s they were fun don’t get me wrong, but they were hard and a learning experience. My 30s have given me the ability to say screw it, I’m going to do what is going to make me happy now, even if it’s just a day without chores, or an impulse buy from Amazon, I’m not going to feel stressed or down about doing it. Life is what you make it, and it’s too short to worry about if other people like your clothes or hair, let them like you for who you are as an individual. Embrace the small perks of happiness and the moments of contentment that you get from relaxing on a couch with a close friend, family member, or even a pet. Adulting isn’t hard if you allow yourself to be an actual adult and enjoy it.