I Suck at Adulting: Here’s How to Not Fix Your Life
On searching for better but finding yourself back at square one only to realize you were just running from yourself.
I’m 35, and I have no fucking idea what I am doing. Up until now I’ve failed miserably at being an adult, and as such I’ve ended up doing a 360 degree turn only to land right where I began. Don’t be like me.
In 2015, I was riding an unending manic-rollercoaster high toward the kind of life I wanted. I was fired from my teaching job February 2015 on a behavioral technicality—I said the fuck in front of some students in the office in passing, not realizing they were there—after the termination, on a whim, I decided to move to France and study French and French Civilization. I was convinced there was nothing left for me in the Bahamas to achieve and the best thing I could do to have more, was to leave, and so I did.
The first year was absolute bliss, sure there were minor things but with each hiccup came an aha-moment. I was at the top of my game, adulting, studying, travelling, making new friends, getting into new hobbies and living my best fucking life. Finally, I thought I’d cracked the adult-code, I’d fixed my life, and all it took was living in a new country for the fourth time around. Everything was coming up me—I was Icarus, flying so close to the sun with sugar-paste holding my fondant wings together.
Then 2017 rolled around and all it took was hot heaping serving of trauma to fuck me up, and drag me down, the plummet back to Earth, back to all the things I’d thought I’d left behind in the Bahamas. True form I fell deep into crushing anxiety, depression and PTSD was tossed in to make it real fun. Panic attacks started happening while doing mundane things like grocery shopping, I got physically ill to match the mental illness attempting to destroy me and I realized it was time to leave the country I fell in love with all those years ago.
I needed to leave, again, but this time, it was because I’d failed to create the type of life I wanted. I failed in my attempt to carve out new happiness, I failed at adulting yet again. Sure, trauma was the catalyst but during those dark months I felt life it was my fault for not being better equip to deal with it—by not dealing with it evidently.
So, when I returned home in 2018 under the guise of needing a break from France, and a chance to get my head space together, I thought finding comfort in friends and family would help me mitigate the turmoil beating against me. It didn’t work. Immediately, I panicked, felt claustrophobic and exposed. I knew I needed to leave, so I sought refuge in Miami. I figured a vacation from adulthood trappings might be the panacea—so I ran again but I couldn’t escape what I was really running from—myself.
Stop Doing 360 degree turns: Running from Your Problems Solves Nothing
Brianna Wiest said it best, “There’s the type of wanting that occurs as a gentle reach in the direction of a better life, and then there’s the type of wanting that’s a manic collapse of what exists in order to rebuild something in its place. One is the awakening, the other is the escape. One slowly sets you free, and the other slowly gets you stuck. The truth is that you cannot transform your life by running from it.
You cannot keep adding new pieces and expect it to fix the one piece that was never supposed to be there in the first place. You cannot heal by restarting—over and over again. You rise up when you weather through the discomfort, make impactful change, and find yourself standing. Then if you choose to change, you can do so knowing you’re not running away, but stepping toward something better.”
I spent the entire decide of the 2010s running from myself. Using new countries and traveling as a literal escape from the life I felt I needed to not live. With every move I felt comfort in the reinvention. A new country meant a new me. It represented, or so I thought, the metamorphosis I needed to live the life I’ve always wanted.
In 2010, I did it on the heels on uncertainty surrounding my job, and moved without thinking to the Republic of Georgia to teach English as a Second Language. Then when I was fired from that position thanks to self-sabotage and not using social media etiquette, I moved to England for 6 months in 2011 and spent a month in France before returning home to the Bahamas.
Then in 2015, the catalyst again was job insecurity and so I left for greener pastures and for a time I had it but something in me was festering, things I kept hidden so deep within me that I’d deluded myself into thinking they no longer existed or had the power to undo me—I was so fucking wrong.
No one told me the right way to transform your life. I knew as an adult the things I needed to be whole—but they were the wrong things. If I had a carefully furnished, beautiful, cozy and well-lived in apartment then I’d be happy. If there was enough money in the bank for me to travel and have a rainy-day savings, I’d feel secure. If I had stylish clothes, shoes and accessories, I’d be comforted. If I had carefully sourced nutritious food, I’d stay thin and healthy. If had friends and vibrant social life, I’d feel less lonely. If I had universal health care, I’d be medically cared for without breaking the bank.
While all of those things are important for a great life, and I had them all in France, it won’t matter if you keep running from what really needs to chance and that’s you. Over and over I kept running and expecting a different outcome and each time I’ve left home for a better or different life; I’ve failed or had to return home because things got real hard real fast or I was thrown from the sky much like Icarus.
Last year, I bled all over my keyboard and unearthed a lot of the things I’d kept buried for years. Things that were spilling into my waking life and fucking my shit up—I was the queen of self-sabotage, and trauma seemed to follow me. As I stared into the abyss of my psyche and the darkness there stared, the openness left me raw and I chafed from being so vulnerable. As a result, the depression roared back and by the end of 2019, I teetering on the cliff of wits end.
How to Fix Your Life and Adult like You Mean it
The side effect of adulting properly is a life you want to live not escape from. I kept thinking that the only way for me to have a great life was to leave the country I had no choice being born into.
My therapist listened to me talk about our city and she said, “wow you associate everything negative with Nassau.” She was right, to the point that I’ve always felt the air made me physically sick and as a result I’ve always been physical ill when I’d come home before my body would relax. I’d guess a lot of that was psychosomatic.
If you want to fix your life and live with meaning then you have to start by first changing yourself. When things become difficult you have to push through the discomfort with fortitude and weather that storm. It will make you more resilient, and prepare you for harder times to come.
Life isn’t designed to be a cakewalk, it’s an arduous rocky path at times, but when you build yourself from the ground up, you become more buoyant. If you want more out of life you have to heal the broken parts of yourself, your inner child and forgive yourself for past mistakes in order for you to move forward.
A fresh start is great after much introspection, and walking the path of self-mastery but not before. Real chance comes only after you face your demons and win—and don’t think you need to go it alone—find yourself a professional mental health care profession who can help you work through the past so you can have more impactful present.
When you decide to chance, make sure you do so not as a means to run away but as a stepping stone to a better, brighter future, where you emerge an even better adult human.
Join my newsletter to keep in touch!