Have you ever wondered — am I really an adult? I mean, who decides when and where we become this ambiguously mature word?
Read these 17 signs to see just how emerging into adulthood you really are. If none of them apply to you, keep on playing video games until 2 am whilst eating a Little Caeser’s Hot-n-Ready. If all 17 ring your name, start looking for mini-vans and re-allocating your IRA my friend.
17 Signs You’re Emerging into Adulthood
1. Ikea has become your Disneyland
2. Sleep goes from being your nemesis who you avoid, to your best friend whom you wish would come over more often.
3. Watching three hours of Friends re-runs begins to feel slightly less productive than it used to.
4. If all the work emails you’ve read and written were placed side by side, they would cross the Atlantic Ocean. There and back.
5. Your body begins to ache from your vigorous lack of movement.
6. Debt goes from being this fairy tale to be repaid in a land far, far, away. To your daily reality show.
7. Memories of how you’re going to feel Sunday morning actually begin to factor into your decisions on Saturday night.
8. A Christmas sweater with a reindeer on it feels like a good idea. And you’re not being ironic.
9. You’ve mastered the interview this is my dream job nod-and-smile for a job you don’t want and can’t believe you’re applying for.
10. Facebook goes from being a hobby, to an obsession, to a chore you dread.
11. 93% of the photos on your phone are of your baby. The remaining pictures are things you’re trying to sell on Craigslist to make room for the baby.
12. The thought of buying a new sofa or kitchen appliance makes you as giddy as a 12-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert.
13. At the end of church you find yourself actually walking up to the table to “Join a Small Group.” And you’re excited.
14. Taxes are your 8th grade science experiment. You put it off until the night before. You have no clue what you’re doing. Yet somehow, it always gets done.
15. You haven’t sprinted in two years. Something you realize too late as you try to dash across the street to avoid oncoming traffic, only to pull muscles you forgot you had.
16. Classical music becomes this weird, welcomed breather.
17. You know enough now to know that you really don’t know jack.
Relate to any of these? What did I miss?
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2012 was an uber-amazing, tipping point for All Groan Up! A colossus sized THANK YOU to well, YOU, for all the support, encouragement, and shout out’s this year. The emails I’ve received from you makes all the mornings up 5:00 AM to write and hours spent pouring over articles with my incredible editor — my wife, very, very worth it.
To commemorate and celebrate this awesome year, let’s do a countdown of the top nine most popular posts on All Groan Up in 2012, starting with: The Biggest surprise about becoming an adult that no one talks about.
Do you ever feel like you flat out suck at being an adult?
That’s how I feel right now. Let’s see…
- I just blew up at my wife because she mentioned “curtain rods.” (long story)
- The three cups of coffee I downed at work couldn’t knock the half-dead out of me as I zombied the day.
- I just returned a Redbox movie, that was only three days late. And the only reason I finally did was so I could buy a bag of M&M’s (okay I bought two bags) that I am slowly eating ( so I downed them both in under 45 seconds. Geesh, didn’t know someone had a stopwatch on me).
- And the kicker, my sweet one-year-old girl whom I just told to stay in her room, took one look at me, grinned that two-tooth-grin, and ran right out the door. Even she knew. Who does this guy think he is — a freaking adult?!
The Biggest Secret About Becoming an Adult…
So as I sit here, thumbing the M&M wrapper hoping just one missed my guzzle, having just come back from apologizing to my wife for being an ass. I finally understand the secret of what it really means to become All Groan Up.
The thing about truly emerging into an adult as a twentysomething isn’t about finding a career, or getting married, having a kid, buying a house, or any of these things.
It’s all of them.
Because the biggest secret about being an adult is…
Adulthood. Never. Stops.
Growing up in school we’re conditioned to live in defined periods of time. Push ourselves for a semester, pull some all-nighters, cram, chug a six-pack of Mountain Dew and wear your pajamas for three-days-straight, take those grueling finals, then bam. You’re selling your books back for $7.33, driving across country — onto summer break, onto something new, onto a complete change.
Adulthood is the opposite. It’s the Energizer bunny — it just keeps going and going and…
Rocking adulthood is nothing more glamorous than consistency.
Doing day 3,354 with the same energy as the first. I need help or I know my bunny is going to keel over way before then.
How to not burn out on adulthood
Honestly, I love my adult life. I love being married. My Instragram will tell you being a dad is the proudest, most fulfilling role I’ve ever experienced. I love my 9-5 job — my co-workers the best friends I’ve had in a long time.
But yet, I feel like I’m on the path to Nervous Breakdownville. How do I prevent that from happening?
1. Take a Nothing Vacation
What’s a nothing vacation. Well, it’s a vacation where you do nothing. Absolutely. No sight-seeing. No family. No friends. Nothing. My wife and I just agreed we’re taking one. Next month. No baby. No itinerary. Just sleep. Food. Books. Sleep. Food. Rinse. Repeat. (if my wife will still go with me. Seriously, I blew up over curtain rods. God help me).
I check my phone more times than a frantic smoker takes puffs after a six-hour flight.
Sometimes, I need to be off. Phone included. I need to sit and be still. To think. Reflect. Pray. Ask God to enter into my insane days for my own sanity.
3. You Tell Me…
What’s something you do to find sanity within adulthood’s biggest secret…that adulthood. never. freaking. stops.
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Original confetti photo by Art Siegel - CC
1. Rent. Food. Health and car insurance. Cell phone bills. College loans. Trips to the mechanic to fix something in your car you didn’t know existed. Yeah, these are all wait-they-can’t-be-serious more expensive than when life was on parent-support. Don’t worry the shock will wear off. But still, every time you write a rent check, an angel loses its wings.
2. Dating someone seriously makes life twice as complex. Getting engaged 3 times. Married x 5. Having a baby x 11. Baby, house, and a dog whose one goal in life is to crap on your living room carpet x 17. Second baby x 31. Third baby = At this point, math is no longer relevant to you.
Photo Credit: Delphine Devos – Creative Commons
3. What is your “why?” is the most important question you can answer as a real.live.adult. Most adults are obsessed with “what” and “how”. “What do you do for living?” “How do you pay the bills” etc.
But the real.live.adults who are thriving care much more about their “why”. As Simon Sinek explains in his TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action“, great adults are driven by a cause. A purpose. A belief. A reason why.
You have a great idea you want to pursue? Awesome, so does everyone else. Why is this great idea vital to you and to this world? That’s the question real.live.adults ask every.single.day. Adulthood is filled with cement walls of “you can’t do this”. Your “why” is what dynamites impossible.
4. Growing up we sprint for defined periods of time. Cram for finals, so you can make it to three months of summer break. Adulthood, on the other hand, is doing dishes. Laundry. Bills. 8-5, M-F. The biggest shock of becoming a real.live.adult is realizing that Adulthood.Never.Stops.
Rocking your 20′s is sometimes nothing more glamorous than patient every-day-ness.
As an emerging adult twentysomething we want success on Day 3 when it’s actually penciled in for Day 3,767. Our dreams of doing big things is not necessarily the problem, our timeline is.
5. Frustration is an adults best friend, if we’ll let it. Yes, frustration is a complete jerk. It won’t sit there all polite and quiet-like. No, it will gnaw at our insides like an angry rat on a corncob. Until you freaking do something about it. That’s why we need it. Frustration forces change. So go ahead, be frustrated. Just make sure you do something productive about it.
6. Adulthood keeps on marching on and if you don’t take some breathers you’re bound to get elephant-trampeded.
- Breather idea #1: Take a Nothing Vacation. What’s a Nothing Vacation? Well, it’s a vacation where you do nothing. Absolutely. No sight-seeing. No family. No friends. Nothing. My wife and I just took one. No baby. No itinerary. Just sleep. Food. Books. Sleep. Drink. Pool. Food. Rinse. Repeat.
- Breather idea #2: Celebrate the small. Did you nail a presentation. Manage a project that was a hit. Have an article published. Design a website. Be intentional to celebrate these achievements. Don’t let adulthood be white-washed with monotony.
7. When an “official” real.live.adult tells you it’s time to put on your “grown-up pants” that’s just their snarky code-phrase for it’s time to wear uncomfortable dress pants like them that are daily threatening to no longer fit, so that you can do something you highly dislike while encased in a cubicle, thinking about that dream you once had that you were too scared to pursue, the only highlight of your day now being birthday cake in the break room.
There’s too many real.live.dead.adults, for you to join the ranks. So if at some point you want to accidentally drop your “grown-up pants” in a real.live.fire, you have my blessing.
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Today All Groan Up is honored to have a guest-post from Jonathan Merritt, the author of A Faith of Our Own and the critically-acclaimed Green Like God. His columns have appeared in outlets such as USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Follow him: @jonathanmerritt.
I imagine riding in the plane of adolescence with sweaty palms, each passenger staring at the floor. Finally, the word is given and one by one we jump. The fall is not so bad, maybe it is the rush we experience as we see the earth become more defined and inviting. Then our feet hit the ground and we realize we had no idea what we were getting into. Where are the road signs? What earthly resources do we have to instruct us, to lead us?
In transition, one day you know where you are heading, the next you feel lost. One day you are God’s gift with every door wide open, the next you are a complete failure. You are lost in transition and you are not alone.
- Photo Credit: Valleygirl_tka
The State of the Union
In America, the average young adult will graduate college with between $13,000 and $18,000 in debt. He will likely not have a clear idea of what he wants to do, but will end up in an entry level job that will pay a little more than $30,000 per year. (This can be disturbing when surveys show that most of us expect to be millionaires by the time we are 40!) Add soaring housing costs and weep-inducing insurance premiums, and it is no wonder over half us move back in with our parents for some period of time.
If all this doesn’t maim our pride enough, those of us who do want to marry can’t seem to do so until years after our parents did. Looking for an anchor, we may describe ourselves as “spiritual” but it rarely translates into our practical life. And so, we morph into a tech-savvy, well-educated, debt-ridden, job-hopping, spiritually-confused bunch of people who feel immense pressure to figure things out.
It has been noted that the twenties are now the most common ages to begin to experience psychological troubles like depression and anxiety disorder. [i] In order to cope, we try out different employment opportunities, cities, churches and relationships. If one scenario doesn’t work for us, we try something else. We suck on life like a cigarette trying to catch a buzz.
I Too Was Lost
I graduated college with honors, only to realize that honors didn’t mean a whole lot to potential employers. I became a consultant with a large company, spending my days in a corporate mid-rise. Sound like a dream? Try a nightmare. My boss’ name was Mrs. Slaughter and her “take no prisoners” management style was true to her last name. Meaningless work piled high on my desk which sat in a cubicle that thankfully faced a window. My desk sat on the fourth floor, and I was miserable.
I had no idea what to do with my life, but I knew that what I was doing currently was not it. In some ways, I envied the family man who had a career and knew where life was leading him every morning when his feet hit the floor. My head swam. I felt like I stepped out of bed every morning and plunged into a spiraling free-fall. It was like I fell out of life’s tree house called childhood only to crash through limbs of confusion and doubt on my way to the dusty, barren and boring ground of adulthood. My feeling of uncertainty began to turn into panic.
I felt like I had aged 20 years in the matter of a week, now feeling eons older than every young person I met. Day-to-day problems that were merely a bump in the road for the average person had become mentally and emotionally taxing for me. I considered moving to various cities and quitting my job, but I was too afraid to move, fearing I would make another mistake. It often became hard to breathe as the pressure to succeed pressed down on my chest with the force of a small car. I wondered what happened to the person who once pursued dreams with complete disregard to how difficult it would be or how many obstacles stood in the way.
Within six months of graduation, my equally depressed roommate broke our lease, moved out of our city apartment and returned to his home state of Delaware. Perhaps it was his disdain for city traffic, perhaps he just longed for poultry farms and wide open stretches of nothingness. Either way, I had no option but to move back in with my parents.
As I dragged my feet into the house I promised myself I would never move back to, I had reached the point of no return. Living with my parents was “temporary.” So temporary it lasted nearly two years. It was during this time that I decided to begin living, rather than existing.
T’is the Season
Walking into my room, I sat down on my bed and picked up my Bible. The pages flopped open to Ecclesiastes, and I began to read. Soon I reached a most apropos verse: “For everything there is a season and a time and for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV) I wasn’t sure what season of life I was in, much less what the heck you should do in the mean time. But, I knew that God had allowed me to be in this particular season for a particular reason. And this was enough. It gave me permission to exhale.
In a couple of months, I’ll wave goodbye to my twenties and embrace the dawn of my life’s fourth decade. Take it from me. You will figure it out. The lights will eventually come back on. The road signs will materialize. And when they do, you’ll find yourself wishing you had enjoyed this season more than you did.
Growing up, did you dream of becoming an adult?
I know I did.
No curfew. No homework. No parents telling me to eat my vegetables or clean my room. I couldn’t wait for the freedom of adulthood. To finally do everything that I wanted to do.
And for a season in my 20′s, all my adulthood “dreams” came true. I fully embraced the TV-sitcom-life, a few commercial breaks the only thing that stood between ME doing whatever ME-wanted-ME-to-do.
And yet, I always felt there was something lacking.
- Picture via Fav Photographer – Amanda Tipton – Creative Commons
The Greatest Thing About Becoming a Real Adult
But then you wake up in your mid-20′s with a real job. spouse. baby. credit card bills. real responsibility that isn’t as glamorous or entertaining as the sitcoms made it look.
Then you finally understand that the real secret about becoming an adult is:
adulthood. never. stops.
My college loans and car payment don’t take a summer vacation.
My baby isn’t self-cleaning, self-eating, self-sleeping — she isn’t self-sufficient at, well, anything.
Then you realize that truly becoming an adult isn’t about the freedom of ME doing whatever I want ME to do. No, the greatest, yet hardest, thing about truly becoming an adult is killing ME.
The Sweet Death of an Adult
As Kerry wrote so eloquently last week in response to the biggest surprise about becoming an adult that no one talks about,
“Being a wife” never stops, and if I were a parent “being a parent never stops.” There’s no ME, by MYSELF, only caring about what I feel like caring about anymore. Marriage and parenthood aren’t like trying a food and thinking, “meh, don’t really like that, think I’ll avoid anchovies from now on.” Once you’re in you’re IN, and you have to be ALL IN. That kicks me in the pants just about… every day.
Becoming an adult is about getting the ME surgically removed.
Your job, your spouse, your bills, your two-year-old who’s discovered how fun it is to throw the remote control in the toilet – all take their turn scalpelling the selfish right out of you.
And does this process hurt? You bet your selfish ass it does.
Getting the ME cut out means — it’s 6:15 a.m. with a toddler that, for the love of God, is going to do whatever it takes — scream, claw, slap, your adult booty out of bed.
It’s wanting to watch the basketball game but scrubbing the bottom of tub and toilet instead.
Becoming an adult is daily putting yourself in a fire and watching all the excess-self be burned to ash. This is what emerging into adulthood is all about.
Still a Choice
But it’s not like I don’t have a choice here. I can hold onto ME. I can be unbending. Uncompromising.
I can force ME.
I can make the world around me crash into this un-moving iceberg.
But is it worth watching everything that I love the most in life crash and drown?
Sure I could’ve kept the “free” adult life that I always dreamt about. Drinking beer, watching sports, hanging out with friends whenever I wanted — yeah it was free, but it was also unfulfilling. I remember laying awake anxious and depressed wondering what was the purpose of ME, MYSELF, and ME.
The Greatest Thing About Becoming an Adult
I don’t lie awake anxious and depressed now. Because with responsibility comes fulfillment. With this life of an adult comes intentionality, comes purpose. It’s not easy, but it is freaking great.
Sure I still need ME time — I don’t want to become a martyr to adulthood.
But I’m learning that maybe the truest freedom of becoming an adult is daily trading that freedom in.
Because the life of ME wasn’t much of a life after all.
Can you relate?
Photo Credit: Amanda Tipton - Creative Commons
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