When I was in my mid-twenties, my cousin and his wife invited me to their daughter’s first birthday party.
The party was lovely, but that wasn’t what struck me about the experience – rather, it was my cousin’s wife, Jen, and her bevvy of elegant friends.
Jen has been in the family since I was in my teens, and to me she has always seemed the epitome of The Adult With Her Life Together, as those who are that little bit older often do when they enter the scene while you’re young and impressionable.
I can’t pinpoint what it was about Jen and her friends on the day of the party, but they all seemed so grown-up. Not in an outdated, fuddy-duddy, unrelateable way, but in a graceful, nicely-dressed, mature-demeanoured kind of way. The kind of women that you look at when you’re in your mid-twenties and say “Cool. That’s how I’m going to be someday.”
By all appearances, they had it together, and the age of 30+ that I was already freaking out about, even back then, suddenly didn’t seem so awful. It looked kind of cool. In my head, they were all married with kids, keeping impeccably clean houses, working in jobs that fulfilled them, taking regular weekends away with their families, masters of the art of hair and make-up, and with social calendars filled to the brim with dinner parties and brunches. So many brunches. My future felt so bright.
I’m officially 30+ and to those in their mid-twenties, I have some not-so-great news: I don’t have it together.
And I have a sneaky suspicion that if those ladies read this piece and knew what I thought their lives were like, they would laugh. And laugh. And drink some wine. And pay some bills. And laugh.
Because actually, growing up doesn’t mean all of those things. It might not even mean any of those things! Adulthood is complex and exciting, and it looks different for all of us.
What I can tell you is that I have managed to pick up some more realistic ideas about adulting over the years, and I am here to share them with you. I’m not saying I’m nailing these. I’m saying that I would totally be an adult if I did, though. It’s by no means a definitive list, but it’s a starting place.
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How To Act Like An Adult:
WORK, REST + PLAY
Each of these things is so valuable. Work hard at something – whether it’s your 9-5, your own business, your house work, your child rearing – don’t call it in. Give it your all.
And then rest. Make sure you get enough sleep, book yourself some down-time, fall in love with reading. Just rest, dear. It’s the greatest form of self-care.
AND THEN. When you’ve worked hard and rested well… play! Inject fun in your life with sports, hobbies, long coffees with friends, video games, throat singing – whatever your jam, make it happen! Striking that all-important work/rest/play balance is SO IMPORTANT.
BRING COLD DRINKS TO DINNER PARTIES
Don’t stop by Coles en route to your friends’ place at 6.30pm: add “drinks” to the shopping list at the start of the week, buy the drinks, chill them, and then deliver them, cold, to your grateful hosts’ hands. Your level of adult will impress them all.
BONUS TIP: If you’re the dinner party host, keep a good stock of ice in the freezer so that on the off chance your friends bring freshly purchased, room-temperature beverages to dinner, nobody’s drinking tepid Coke. Dinner is saved! (I’ve got a few more handy dinner party tips up my sleeve right HERE.)
KEEP NOTE OF YOUR FRIENDS’ ADDRESSES
Yep, a sure sign of a true Adult With Their Life Together is someone who only asks for your address once – because as soon as they have it, they save it in their address book or phone contacts. Gone are the days of countless group PMs collecting people’s addresses for wedding invitations, or Save The Date events on Facebook asking you to list your address for the world to see. Let’s save those for the 20-year-olds, troops.
I use my phone but a lot of people love the old-fashioned method of keeping all their info written in a trusty address book. A quick search on Amazon will bring up hundreds of choices, but I especially love this pretty hydrangeas address book
PUT SOCIAL MEDIA IN ITS PLACE
We can spend hours glued to our phones, mindlessly scrolling through social media. But we’re also just starting to realise how precious our time really is. If social media is driving you bonkers, it might be time to take a step back. Unfollow people and accounts that you don’t like seeing come up in your feed, or that make you jealous, or that make you feel a little judgey. Commit to spending less time scrolling. I guarantee that reducing your time spent on social media will make you feel better, not worse (once you get past the antsy FOMO feeling that will try and tempt you to keep reaching for it!)
GO TO THE DOCTOR
If you find a mysterious lump, or notice that your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, or have an ingrown toenail – pick up the phone and make an appointment to get it sorted out. Go to the dentist annually. Get checked for skin cancer. Book your pap smears and get your cholesterol tested and heck, if you’re feeling real cray-cray, ask them to slap a blood pressure cuff on those grown-up guns of yours.
PUT WORK INTO YOUR FRIENDSHIPS
It can be easy to take friendships for granted when the busy-ness of adult life is in full swing, but NEWSFLASH: we need our friends! Friendships need to be nurtured, and a lunch-break silly text conversation with a friend can work wonders. (For my real-life tips on nurturing friendships in adulthood, click here.)
I’m not talking goals like “I want to be rich” or “I want to be thin” or “I want to marry Zac Efron” (though there’s nothing wrong with dreaming… you go, future Mrs. Efron!) I’m talking about goals that will help define the decisions you make and set you on a clear path.
Instead of dreaming of “one day” buying a house, set a goal to have X amount of dollars saved in X number of years. Work out how much money you need to save monthly to achieve that, and make it a priority to set that cash aside every time you get paid.
Or, instead of imagining getting qualified for a new career path “in the future”, start making plans to study online or part-time. Research different course options that are available, work out logisitically the best time to start, and lock it in.
In a society that thinks we thrive on instant gratification, setting long-term goals doesn’t feel natural. But the time is going to pass anyway – so use it to your benefit!
Tahlia wrote these awesome thoughts on life after achieving your goals.
UPDATE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
If you’re still using the Yahoo account you set up in high school, and it embarrasses you every time you have to write “chicken_licken_456” on a form, job application and loyalty card sign-up sheet, it’s time for a clean break. Yes, changing your email address can be a massive pain when it’s plugged into hundreds of website log-ins, newsletters and friends – but it’s worth it. The process can take time – start using the new email address and continue monitoring the old one, so that as new important items come in, you can re-direct them accordingly.
STOP SAYING “I CAN’T”
Excuses are the mother of failure, and the bitter enemy of growth.
Sometimes negative responses like “no” and “I can’t” pop out of our mouths before we even think, purely out of habit.
The fact is, if we only ever believe we can do the things that we already know we can do, we’ll never learn how to do anything new.
Once you’ve read that sentence 15 times to wrap your head around the questionable structure and unintentional Dr Seuss-style rhyme, let me explain:
I think a key part of growing up is allowing ourselves to be challenged in very real ways. This is how we learn to believe in ourselves. It’s the key to confidence! Sometimes when I try something and fail, I still consider it a good growth experience because I tried.
So, fellow adults, where does this leave you?
Are you nailing it? Are you committing to asking your friends one final time for their addresses before snapping open your address book and plugging it all in?
And of course, I sincerely want to know what other things define YOUR adulthood. So let me know in the comments: what should be on this list!?
I’ll just be over here, setting up a much more sensible, adult email address…
*cough* flowerz_in_her_hair *cough*
Yep. Flowerz. With a Z.
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