Biggest surprise about becoming an adult that no one talks about

Surprise.-You're-an-Adult! -Picture


Surprise.-You're-an-Adult! -Picture

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?!
  • Point taken.

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).

2. De-Freaking-Plug

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.

Original confetti photo by Art Siegel – CC


  1. Sarah Noonan

    I agree that nothing vacations are essential and not emphasized enough in our world, which always wants us out traveling and “living”…those things are important but down time, even if its only for part of a weekend/evening are equally important, if not more so. I just read a great book by Susan Cain, Quiet, that explains how important it is to take time for ourselves. I make time for myself, and for the first time, I feel like I’m hearing feedback that that’s not only okay but actually a good, vital priority to have.

    • admin

      Thanks Sarah. Down, quiet time is so key. I leave it out because I feel I’m too busy, when it in the end that makes me much less productive because I’m exhausted and have not refreshed myself.

  2. Julie (@InciteFaith)

    That “Nothing Vacation” sounds nice. Right about now I could use my own Nothing Island for an extended nothing vacation.

    Good points, definitely something I should consider myself.

    Praying for you. 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks Julie. I need all the prayer I can get 🙂

      Like the sound of that Nothing Island… kind of like Lost without the killer mist, bears, plane wreck…

      …okay nothing like Lost…

  3. Morgan

    I LOVE your suggestions! Man, I was just thinking how I needed another vacation. I love to spend my weekends just doing whatever I want. Whether that means sitting at home and vegging, going camping, going to the beach or discovering a new adventure spot I hadn’t before.

    Being able to unplug during the weekend and do WHATEVER without feeling any sort of pressure, helps me keep the kid in me alive and keeps my spirits up for when adulthood gets the best of me.

    Thanks for this post, Paul. 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks Morgan. The problem with most my vacations is that I need a vacation after coming back from my vacation. That’s why the idea of a Nothing Vacation sounded so sweet to these burnt-out ears…Don’t think that metaphor made sense…see I’m losing it…

  4. billy

    yikes — I’ve done the same thing…blown up about nothing. I really like the idea of a “nothing-vacation”. thanks for a great article.

    • admin

      Thanks Billy. That’s the worse part about not taking time to breathe is that Stressed Paul takes over and starts a mutiny…

  5. Lindsay

    You hit the nail on the head with this one, Paul! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things I’m supposed to be doing/researching/strategizing for as a “grown up.” A couple of ways I deal with it, is taking it one day at a time. Laughing at myself and including humor as much as possible. And reminding myself that there are a lot of grown-ups older than me that are still around and seem to be happy. So this thing we call adulthood must be worth the effort to keep going!

    • admin

      Thanks Lindsay! I really like the point of laughing at myself often.

      I definitely have a tendency to take things too seriously and let them curl up in a tight-little-frustration-ball in the back of my neck.

      Laughing would be a stellar release.

  6. Vanessa

    Thanks for this article Paul. As my husband and I anxiously await our first child due in July, I look down at my tummy and think, “Holy crap am I really old enough/adult enough for this?” I tell myself, “Old enough? Yes. You’re 29.” Adulthood sure creeps up on you and there really are no ends (beside the obvious), no semesters, no extended breaks, no real brand new starts. I think thats one of the things I miss most about being a kid, the fresh starts. I guess if we have to be the energizer bunny, we better think about what truly energizes us and what depletes energy so that we can keep on going and going. Funny as it is, what energizes us can be difficult to put a finger on. We are so programmed to stay plugged in and be productive and when we are not guilt creeps in which is a drain too. Oh adulthood. I’m hoping I wise up in my 30s. 🙂

    • admin

      Vanessa – Extremely well put.

      “what energizes us can be difficult to put a finger on”

      Great point. You’d think we’d know ourselves better than we do.

      “Holy crap am I really old enough/adult enough for this?”

      Well said. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve thought the same thing…

      Oh, and congrats on the first baby!! When people say it changes everything, they really mean, it. changes. everything.

  7. Melissa

    I think what helps me make it through is a small little treat for myself each week. Sort of a you-made-it-through-another-week treat. Mainly, I started doing this regularly when I got pregnant, but I think it’s something I should continue after I give birth, because it’s a good practice. I am the kind of person who gives a lot to others without necessarily giving anything back to myself, not that it’s a bad thing, but it majorly contributes to burnout. And I’m also the kind of person who is a little bit penny-pinching which means I rarely spend any money that doesn’t need to be spent. Well, I have changed my needs and treating myself is something that I now need to help prevent burnout. It used to be sitting in the bath tub with some heavenly smelling, relaxing bath salts reading a book before I got pregnant but my Ob/gyn didn’t want me using the bath salts, so now I have a bavarian creme donut every week (it’s my favorite kind). It’s sort of like, you made it through another week! That’s what I take it as anyways, because there aren’t any more big things to celebrate in a sense (like no more, I made it through a semester! example) so now I try and treat myself on a regular basis. 69 cents (the cost of my donut at the grocery store) well spent on myself.

    • admin

      Melissa – Sorry for the late response to your comment. Thanks for the ideas.

      Bath salts. Check. Donut. Check. I like where this is going…

  8. Kerry

    Totally. The “adulthood never stops” is as true as the “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.

    • admin

      “There’s no ME, by MYSELF, only caring about what I feel like caring about anymore.”

      Well said Kerry. I’m definitely a ME-Monster. That’s in process of being surgically removed. Without putting me under first.

  9. Robert

    I always take a nothing vacation the week between Christmas and New Year. We don’t go anywhere other than family for Christmas but the rest of the week, we stay home and just enjoy life in Pasadena. Watch all the tourist get hyped for the parade and the Rose Bowl, golf, sleep, look at my office and think I should clean it, etc. On Saturday’s I make sure not to do any work or think about it. No e-mails. Sometimes I don’t even carry my cell phone.

  10. Kris

    A spin on the nothing vacation: My husband and I decided last year that we were not going home for the holidays. We live about 8 hrs from our families and my side is about 3 hrs away from his. Then on each side there are divorces and multiple houses to visit. It makes any visit home frantic and rushed and the majority of our time is spent on the road with other frantic, rushed drivers. By the end of it we’re miserable. So instead we spent three days in our pajamas, having drinks, watching Christmas movies and it was the most amazing, relaxing Christmas of my entire life!

  11. Drew Tewell


    How have you been? I like to watch a movie at the end of the day. Thanks for the post!


    • admin

      Thanks Drew. Doing well. Hope you’re having an awesome day with family

  12. David Ramos

    Haha, this was fantastic. I relate this to PhD work. It’s not the smartest or most creative people who finish – its the one’s who know how to endure. Perseverance will continue to conquer problems long after every other resource has run out, after every skill has failed, and after every other option has disappeared.
    I’m excited to have another year to persevere and grow up!

    • admin

      Well said as always David. Love the metaphor of a PhD. Probably why our 20’s feels like everything gets “Piled Higher and Deeper”

      Thanks David.

  13. Alyssa Chung

    I found routinely writing things down in my small notebook ( I take it with me everywhere, in my purse etc.) to be the the thing that have helped me to manage adulthood the best and not stress so much. (Entering notes or writing into my phone was just not cutting it; too many distractions.) I was often late for work or missed appointments, had massive late charges for parking tickets, and put off or just forgot everything. Needless to say, I was a mess. But when it was suggested for me to write into a journal everyday, tasks I needed to do (even if they repeat day to day), it helped me to remember what needed to be done as well as things I wanted to accomplish.

    Writing about what I want to accomplish is also something I like to do to destress. Not everything that I write I accomplish but its a great way to express my hopes, goals, ideas, etc. which for me can be exciting, because I realize I can literally do almost anything I want to do, as long as I am willing to work for it. Also, it can help me to figure out how I feel about things as well. Over all writing things down on paper have helped me tremendously.

    Hope this is helpful.


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