As a child, I suffered the endless torment of being a dependent. I ate the food my parents cooked. I went the places my parents transported me. I wore the clothing my parents dressed me in. I participated in the activities my parents had signed me up for. I was completely and utterly reliant on my parents to make the decisions I was too immature to make for myself. They were independent. I was dependent. Then the glorious day arrived when I was finally 18, officially an adult! I had undergone an overnight transition, now I was independent too!
“Independent (Adjective): Not influenced or controlled in any way by other people, events, or things” (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
Driving into Adulthood
My first taste of adulthood was rather expensive, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. I treated myself to my very own car. Having beaten up my mother’s car immediately after passing my test (and being politely asked to refrain from borrowing the car again!), I was desperate to purchase my own set of wheels, which I could bump and bruise, guilt free.
My second adult experience was less fun. I now had the responsibility of paying for insurance, car tax, MOTs, and tickets when I accidentally drove the wrong way down a one-way street en route to work (yes, this happened more than once… in the same location!). Nobody held my hand through these new burdens. I was independent.
I certainly love my bright red Toyota Aygo, and am so proud of the many, many hours of hard work I completed to buy my car straight after secondary school. As a child, I had dreamt of what my first car would be like. My dreams were realised, although not in the form of the ‘Barbie Glam Convertible’ I had envisioned. The essence was there; the car drives, and I even splashed out on an automatic over a manual. However, the responsible adult in me elected not pay for a pink paint job to have her name as a licence plate. So for me it was a car, but many of us have dreams that are envisioned as children and then realised differently as adults.
This was a microcosm of my new adult life. For every exciting element, there was a level of responsibility to temper it. In some scenarios, there seemed to be more responsibility than fun. As a child, my parents divided my life to have a good balance between school work, chores, play dates, and outings. As an adult, this regulation was my responsibility too! Of course, a number of dreams went out the window altogether, for the sheer impossibility of them or I grew out of them and desired new things.
A little down the line, I am in a committed relationship, and have a mortgage, bills and student loan debt (and therefore rely on my job), I have learned to cook and clean, and have even mastered the art of keeping a pet and some plants alive!
Feel free to swap out or add in your own commitments, the message remains. With all the ‘adulting’ we need to do, we can easily neglect ourselves the benefit of adulting. This is the dessert-before-main-course adulting, the late-night-movie adulting, the buy-it-because-I-want-it-(not-because-I-need-it) adulting.
Of course, not being influenced is not an endless term. We are still bound by the laws of nature, affordability, and time. Last year, I had the privilege of going on an incredible three-week honeymoon holiday to the States. I can afford to have that experience year in, year out if I want to, but I will have to sacrifice the idea of moving homes.
Of course, everything must be within reason, as everything has consequences. If I eat too unhealthily, I will likely get a stomach ache. Long term, this path could lead to obesity, diabetes, or worse. Indefinite procrastination can lead to low grades, or at work, a failure to meet objectives, and eventually a dismissal.
Adulting involves balancing our responsibilities (whether we put them on ourselves – e.g. having a pet or watering plants – or they are forced upon us – e.g. bills or work) and activities you enjoy. Of course the balance will differ slightly from when we were children – we now have to face consequences that we may not have factored in as children.
More mindfulness and wellbeing tips can be found in my motivational calendar for 2019.
Whether reflecting on experience, or looking forward in anticipation, every day is an opportunity to do something positive. TV psychologist & author Dr Audrey Tang (43) and creative writer & millennial business blogger Rachel Gordon (23) have teamed up to inspire your 2019 – whatever your age!