“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists”—Kurt Vonnegut
Most young whippersnappers look forward to becoming an adult and building their own independent life. And when they do, they invariably discover that the ability to buy infinite candy and deciding your own bed time isn’t quite the nirvana it seemed to be. In fact, understanding that nothing is ever what it’s cracked up to be is just one of the many bitter pills you’ll have to swallow as you age through life at an exponentially rapid pace.
Let’s talk about some of the unfortunate realities that settle in as you set a course through the rocky seas of adulthood.
You’re no longer supposed to use your imagination
Having fun by using your imagination and playing often boils down to going out drinking or doing X,Y,Z….while drinking, as we get older. Okay, it’s not that simple, but society has certain expectations of us and the way we behave now. Acting like a kid is usually only okay if we’re around kids. But what if we want to draw something cool, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into squares with the crust sliced off or build a sweet Lego castle just for the lulz? Many of us are so overloaded with work, relationship and other stressors that we can’t unwind unless it’s a night “out,” where we can party and then have no choice but to let loose because that sweet, sweet nectar practically forces us to. Maybe we can just compromise with drunken Lego-building contests.
You’re no longer invincible
It’s a scientific fact that no matter what kind of horrible mangley accident you get into as a kid, you bounce right back up and suffer nothing worse than a scar or two. Not so as a weak and fragile adult. You don’t even have to do anything and the grim reaper could come to collect any way. That slight pain in your foot? Probably a blood clot working its way to your brain.
Which is why you play board and video games instead of actual physical games
Don’t get me wrong, I like board games and I LOVE video games, but g-damn do I miss playing outdoor games. Not sports like football or basketball (which aren’t nearly as tough to get a group together for), but games; the stuff of gym class and summer camp legend that have an entirely different feel to them. Unless you live in a community where you have access to organized leagues it’s tough to get your posse together for dodge ball, capture the flag or manhunt. And when you do, you know someone’s back is always gonna get thrown out or some crazy not-old-but-not-young-either related shit.
People hold grudges
When you’re young and at odds with your buddy sure, feelings get hurt and friendships can end, but man can adults hold much more complex and deep-seated grudges than kids can. Not only that, but as we get older people take sides more easily, turn others against you and shut you out from whole circles of friends. Ouch. Let it go, bro!
People couple off
Here’s some advice: find yourself friends who can relate to singles as well as they can to couples. Many couples have a “couple mentality,” and while it’s nice to have a few happy couples spending time together, they shouldn’t forget that, at one point, they used to be single too and wouldn’t like to be left out just because they hadn’t settled down yet. Plus, couples are always doing things like leaving the party early to have sex. Have some respect and just do it in the bathroom, guys.
Romantic relationships are a lot more complicated
Childhood relationships… they used to be so simple; you could pass your crush a note asking if they want to “go out,” then they’d circle “yes” or “no” and BAM, it’s a relationship! Going on a date would consist of sitting together on the bus or going to McDonald’s with your parents. And if she’s a real slut, then she’ll put out right away (i.e. hold your hand). Then poof!, one day it’s all over and the cycle starts anew.
Nowadays, there are a hundred types of relationships with a million reasons why they will or won’t last. Sure, you get to do fun things like vacation together and have the sex, but it takes loads more planning and dedication to make it work. Somehow, I feel like “Will you marry me, circle ‘yes’ or ‘no'” wouldn’t go over all that well.
While social media certainly makes it easy to stay connected to friends, you will find that it can be hard to maintain these friendships, and people often drift away as they start to build their own life (particularly once they settle down). This is a natural part of life and does not take away from what you once had, but it is difficult when you have good friends from school or college that you no longer have in your life as much.
The stress of money
Money makes the world go round but even those that earn a healthy salary can still find it difficult to manage each month. Life can be incredibly expensive, plus you also have to think about saving to buy a house, planning ahead for the future, the costs of raising a child, and various other large financial responsibilities. Most people were not taught money management at school, which only makes matters worse, so it is no surprise that so many young adults today have huge concerns over money.
The stress of career
Of course, in order to earn money, you need to have a career and this is much harder for many than originally expected. It can be hard enough to find a job in today’s day and age but it can then become such an enormous part of your life that it causes stress even when you are at home trying to relax. Office politics, difficult relationships with bosses, not getting job satisfaction, the daily commute and trying to climb the corporate ladder are just a few of the difficulties that people face during their career.
The energy just gets zapped out of you
As a result of having so many responsibilities and not enough time in the day, many people find that they do not have as much energy as they once did which can make days much harder to manage. This is why you need to prioritize sleep and try to lead a healthy lifestyle which can make a big difference to your mood and energy levels.
You compare yourself to others
It becomes almost impossible not to compare yourself to others. It can be a humbling experience to see your friends and people that you went to school with getting married, having kids, buying a house, and seemingly living an amazing and stress-free existence. Hopefully you’ll also have the wisdom to remember that you are not getting the full picture (social media truly is of the devil).
Social conventions become way too ingrained
As grown-ups, we often spend so much energy over-doing politeness toward people we don’t reallllly care about (though we care what they think about us) that we don’t have enough energy leftover for those we do care about. Do you smile and say “How are you?” to almost everyone you pass by until you’re so tired of being “on” that you forget to ask your wife how her day was or forget to reach out to a friend going through a rough patch? I’m not saying it’s not nice to smile and say “Hi,” but save some of that love for those you actually love.
You start to worry about the signs of aging
You will also find that signs of aging start to happen much sooner than you expected. In addition to not being able to spring out of bed every morning, you might find that you have persistent aches and pains, grey hairs, bags under your eyes and frown lines. Exercise and workouts become much harder and take you longer to recover from even as it becomes ever more essential (no longer invincible, remember) to stay healthy.
Lack of free time
When you have a full-time job and potentially other large responsibilities, you will find that you have very little time to yourself as an adult which can take its toll. Everyone needs free time when they can relax, enjoy hobbies, exercise and socialize, but it is hard to fit this all in when you have to commute and work every day, pick up kids, cook dinner, do the washing, go food shopping, help kids with homework and carry out various other responsibilities.
You start to talk about traffic and weather
So, you’re walking over to a meeting with a co-worker. You don’t know each other all that well, so you talk about work every time you’re alone and feel forced to talk about something. But, what happens when you run out of work stuff to chat about? It always goes straight to traffic and weather, like a news channel with nothing better to cover. If I hear one more person express thankfulness that even though it’s hot as blazes it’s a “dry heat,” I swear to Zeus I will pray for him to chuck a lightning bolt at me to end my misery.
The news actually become important and get more horrifying by the year
As a child, the news seemed boring and like it would never really impact your life. As an adult, you realize that the news can actually have an enormous impact on your life and the events of the last few years certainly prove this. Events outside of your control can make a huge difference to your life and the 24/7 news cycle can certainly take its toll and add to any stress or anxiety that you might already be experiencing.
Yet life seems to be all about routine and monotony now
Every day is the same as the last day and anything new or unusual will have to be preplanned and scheduled — and probably involve spending lots of money.
Watching your parents grow old
One of the worst things about being an adult is seeing your once vigorous ubermensch parents grow frail and the relationship changing to where you have to look after them. Senior living communities can be a smart move when a parent starts to need care as they can provide constant, high-quality care and provide a social life for seniors, but the best ones will also still provide a sense of normality and independence which is so important for people even as they start to need care and support.