image by Stanley Dai from Unsplash
Once you hit 21, everyone celebrates riotously that you're "officially an adult!" After the confetti has been swept up and the thought has properly settled down in your mind, you're left feeling disoriented and insecure. So now I'm magically an adult--yikes--and somehow I don't feel any different. I don't have any idea how to be an adult or feel any more equipped to take on this challenge than I did the day before.
But you make resolutions, and find motivation (for me, it was watching Hiccup take on his father's role in How to Train Your Dragon 2, and reading about young Queen Victoria in Lytton Strachey's biography!) and realize also that it's not really that momentous; it's more of a psychological barrier, really. And life goes on, per normal.
And you get used to it. And you get busy trying to manage everything, trying to get your life together...
...until somewhere along the way you get burnt-out. And you think, this is adulting, right? Why am I doing such a bad job of it?
I wish 21st birthdays were traditionally celebrated with a list of helpful guidelines and pointers, so you don't have to learn everything the hard way. And maybe a crash course in important life skills like how to pay bills, calculate income tax, unclog choked sinks, and ask all the right questions when you go to the doctor's. I still haven't managed to see the doctor on my own because each time I keep forgetting to ask the intelligent questions my mom would--like what are the possible side-effects, or this a steroid, and what should I do if there's no improvement in x number of days. I just take the medicine while nodding with glazed eyes.
I'm no longer at the dewy-eyed novelty of fresh 21 but several years down the road, I look around at my peers, all struggling valiantly to ace this slippery, abstract concept of adulting. Often feeling like they're failing at it. Too busy to think back, reflect. Struggling with a vague sense of discouragement and insufficiency, of not being "there" and yet not exactly sure what "there" is either.
Well, here are a few thoughts on adulting, from someone who's still navigating what that means.
1. Cherish and actively nurture old friendships and relationships. Remember the people who loved and supported you so that you could be where you are today. It's all too easy to leave them behind in the busyness and distractions.
And likewise, aspire to be to someone else what they were to you. "Be who you needed when you were younger."
2. Make new friends; they're not going to fall into your lap the way they did when you were a teenager, being pushed from one group to another and having to make friends almost out of necessity as part of the education system. Take that bit of energy to smile at your neighbour in the lift, to start a conversation with a colleague. Antisocial teenagers are one level, antisocial adults too absorbed and jaded to care or notice anyone else is the next level. Take an interest in people; the temptation to be self-absorbed is present at every stage of life.
From a more pragmatic perspective: life-long friends, the kind you'll be talking to when you're both octogenarians, can originate from your teens--but rarely. Otherwise, your future close friends will be the ones you make now.
3. Appreciate people for who they are, without necessarily having to admire or approve of them. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; instead of blindly accepting, judging, feeling uncomfortable, or insecure, accept that you're going to learn from everyone--whether positive things to emulate, or negative things to avoid. More often than not, it's a mix of both. This was a realization that really helped me cope in uni, when I met different sorts of people (the nice and the...not-so-nice.) Especially people who were very different from me. How do you respond in those cases, with maturity and graciousness?
4. Take care of yourself. Have a healthy respect and appreciation for your body. Know your limits and learn to have the discipline to make decisions that you know you won't regret. See the connection between short-term goals/actions and long-term ones; each choice reinforces a lifestyle, a habit, a mentality. Which and what kind depends on you.
Maybe you want to have a fit lifestyle where you exercise regularly. Well, that happens when your small, everyday, isolated decisions to have that workout or go for that jog accumulate. See each decision for what it is--a small part contributing to a greater whole. Whether that means not beating yourself up for missing one day, or having the discipline to start TODAY and not next Monday.
5. Compassion. Strive to maintain a compassionate and tender heart towards people, even as you might be experiencing more and more reasons not to. Whenever you're tempted to lapse into cynicism (and with all my heart, I agree that that is a very real struggle) remember that compassion is not the same as naivete. Jesus, after all, looked on us with compassion--not because we were dumb, sweet, helpless. Not because we were nobly suffering victims. He looked on us with love and compassion, clearly seeing how we were malicious, scheming, selfish, dishonest, sneaky, cowardly, living in entitlement and denial.
And He loved us in a way to help us get out of that--not get away with that.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
Click to set custom HTML
ALL IMAGES FROM PINTEREST UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. THANKS, PINTEREST!