What I wish I could tell 20-year-old me about being an adult

If you’ve ever felt like the Toys R Us jingle was your theme song and Geoffrey the Giraffe was your spirit animal, we would probably be very good friends. Because here’s a secret: I am very bad at being an adult. I don’t think I’m irresponsible or
immature (well, sometimes I’m immature) or lazy or a terrible person. I just think that sometimes adulting is hard work. And sometimes, it’s easier just to pretend that you can never grow up.

Society’s expectations these days are high enough to make any normal human being a little twitchy-eyed: go to college, get a job, find a significant other, get married, buy a house, have kids, get a better job, get a bigger house, be happy and content with all of your adult achievements. For someone like me who’s not particularly organized and generally gets anxiety about simple things like whether I should binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black or be responsible and space
episodes out (haha yeeahhh ok), this is impossible. It’s a lot of pressure. And I mostly want to curl back up into a ball and ignore my utility bills and piles of dirty laundry.

Every night before I fall asleep, maybe after some meditation, or some journaling, or maybe even a particularly ambitious plank hold, I take a deep breath, forgive myself for not being a perfect adult, and I make another mental list of ways to adult just a little bit better tomorrow. Baby steps, y’all. Here’s what I wish I could say to the just starting out as a grown up me about what it’s really like to be an adult.

Organization in all things is overrated

It’s ok to have a hidden junk drawer or three, no matter what that girl’s Pinterest board says (because if she’s anything like you,her Pinterest board is probably the only place she’s actually organized). Don’t feel like you’ve failed at being a grown up if your space isn’t perfectly tidy at all times, or if you don’t have everything alphabetized.

There’s no use in comparing yourself to other people 

Looking at the highlights of someone else’s life and thinking about how your life isn’t as good only takes away time that you could be using for better things. Remember: Grown-ups come in all different shapes and sizes and world views. It’s the diversity of people out there that’s amazing. No two lives are ever going to be the same.

Appreciate where you are

Look for all the goodness in your life. So you may not have it all together, but guess who else knows that? No one. And guess who else has it all together? No one.

Money matters, so you should learn how to handle it

Yes, you probably should have taken personal finance instead of Calculus, but take time now to learn some basic financial planning. Not building up a bunch of credit card debt is really going to help out your future self.

But money is not the only thing that matters

When you do spend it, spend it on experiences, and not stuff. The new iPhone will be old in a year. Your trip to Belize will be awesome forever.

Embrace your body

Take care of yourself, and celebrate what your body looks like. Be kind to yourself in the mirror. Perfection is just not an attainable goal.

Make new friends, but keep the old (if you can)

People change. With any luck, you will too. If you’ve moved beyond a friendship, be grateful for what it was, but don’t feel bad. People come in and out of your life all the time, and you can benefit from it by hanging on to the ones you care about, and learning from all of them.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk

Fear of failure is a real thing, but sometimes seeking out challenges that you know you’ll fail at is what pushes you to grow as a person. You never know: It might work out.

Don’t apologize for who you are

Save apologies for more important things. (Like eating the last of your roommate’s ice cream, you animal.)

Find your inner “I don’t care”

Be yourself, all the time, even when the world wants you to be someone else. You are enough. You have always been enough.

Emily Rhode lives in Durham, NC with her husband and her neurotic rescue, Tilly.Her favorite things include goats in trees, pirate jokes, beating the local college students at trivia and porch-sitting with beer and bananagrams.  She can be found blogging at everyonehasablogbutme.com.

[Image via Comedy Central]