No one tells you just how difficult adulthood is going to be. Sure, you see glimpses of your family members and other adults at stressful times in their lives, but you don’t really comprehend what it’s like until you actually experience it.
I’ll admit that I still don’t fully understand it as I’m not married, I don’t have a mortgage and as far as I’m aware, I’ve birthed no offspring, and all of those are really high up there on the list of “things to do as an adult” in my opinion. I’m in a serious relationship, I rent a flat and I have a bonsai tree, so I guess that’s steps in the direction of adult-land, right? But there are still things I wish I’d known before heading off into the world to fend for myself. Some of these things are skills I think should be taught in school, and others are things I believe I lack for many reasons.
At the end of each month, I receive a payslip that shows me how much I earned and how much was taken away for tax, national insurance, student loans and my pension. I notice when there’s a discrepancy, and I notice when something new is slotted in that list of deductions, but I’m still not entirely sure how each one is worked out, what it goes towards and how it benefits me. Some sort of lesson on finance in school would have been a major help, and maybe I’d understand things a bit better if that had been included in my education rather than General Studies.
I can manage both myself and other people at work, yet at home, I’m useless. Anything that involves discipline, I’m awful at. I went to university and have the capacity to be good at most things I put my mind to, but I simply cannot put my mind to them. I can write lists of things to do until my pens run out, but when it comes to actioning them I’m hopeless. I know that there are numerous things I need to do, but they just keep getting forgotten or remembered but ignored. These things soon add up and bite you in the arse if you don’t see to them and I’m pretty much dangling my butt in the shark infested water at the moment.
I voted for the first time this year because I’ve never cared about politics before. I voted because my vote mattered. I did some research and voted how I felt I should in my heart, but I still don’t feel like mine was an informed vote. I wish that my school had done something to make politics feel more important and taught us something about it rather than literally nothing. The women of the past fought for my right to vote and I don’t know what to do with this power. What a waste of human sacrifice and suffering.
People say to not take friendships and relationships during school so seriously, as they won’t matter that much when you get older. I understand this one very well. I look back on my relationships with fondness as each one taught me a lesson and I regret none of them, but they don’t impact my life anymore, despite feeling like my whole world at the time. My friendships are a massive regret of mine, however. Adults are right when they say friends come and go, but they don’t really say how it can affect you. I love each of my friends dearly and think of them often, but due to numerous factors, we don’t talk that much anymore, and it upsets me. I’ve become a stoic and lone-wolf kind of person because that is my personality, but I wish I had more friends right now than I do. On the other hand, I find myself unwilling to contact my past acquaintances as we’re so different now that I don’t know if I’d be comfortable any longer. Adulthood makes you cherish friendships for different reasons, and I wish I’d stayed in contact with mine.
This is a biggie. As a kid, I’d spend hours playing games and reading by myself and it suited me just fine as they were my passions. I do the same thing now, but I’m forever clock watching. I have a few hours in the evenings and two weekend days a week for my spare time (which is more than some people) and I still don’t feel like it’s enough time. I spend more time in work than I do living my life how I want to. I had a job from a young age, but I never really understood what it was to savour my spare time. Now I wish I had done more productive things as a teenager, such as spending more time socialising, drawing and learning new skills, ’cause right now I’m too tired for that stuff.
You take your family for granted when you’re growing up. I regret that. My family mean the world to me, but circumstances now make me feel uncomfortable around some of them and guilt makes me wary of seeing others. Spend time with your family, kids; you’ll wish you had when you no longer can.
I was lucky that only a few bullies mildly tormented me as a child, so I can’t even begin to understand how those who had it worse felt. I consider myself lucky in that sense, and my innocence and ignorance of the world were protected for longer than others. Because of that, I wasn’t prepared for what the world is actually like. I grew up around lovely people and it was a massive shock when I met some not-so-lovely people. Adults can be bullies too, and they don’t need to know your name in order to focus on you. I’m a white woman and I experienced racism while working in a shop in a larger town/city. I experienced sexism through different jobs and groups of people in university. I witnessed drunken fights in night clubs and pubs. I helped friends through broken hearts and tragedies. All of these caused by other humans. But I also saw amazing gestures of kindness and generosity. I saw lives brought together and families formed. Humans are amazing and dangerous and intense creatures.
There are probably far more things I could name in this post, but I don’t want to drone on too long. For the younger people that read this article, I have some advice. If you don’t understand something that your parent is doing (such as taxes if they’re self-employed, or working on the car in the garage because the fuse needs changing), ask them if they can explain it to you so you have a better understanding in case you experience it as an adult. Ask questions if you’re curious. Do research if you’re uneducated. Watch the world and note what is happening. See how the brave handle the intimidating. Cherish your family and friends. Share your knowledge, experiences, and love with others and remember to laugh.