I know I’ve written about the term, “adulting” before but I have another take on it. Used as a verb, the terms suggests that being an adult is an activity. We can all agree that activities like sports, hobbies, or even weird things people do on reality shows, can be mastered.
So could it then be possible, being that “adulting” is a verb, that we could one day perfect our adult lives?
Common sense, of course, tells us that it’s quite impossible. Yet, I know that there are a good many of us that are trying to do just that. We compare ourselves to friends, family members or celebrities, and wind up in shame spirals about not adulting right. We may kick ourselves for a while as we compare our silhouette to someone on the red carpet one or we may have a cry in the car as we leave our friends’s beautiful home.
But, eventually, we have to get back into our routine and keep our lives going. And, interestingly, I think it’s in our routines that the key to shaking off that shame spiral may lie.
If we really wonder closely about why it’s impossible to perfect our adult lives, consider how routine works. Routine rarely truly stays exactly the same for very long – we age, we grow and s#*!happens. It may seem that once we perfect routine, a stick is thrown into the spokes and we have to adapt – change jobs, gyms or move across the country for our own or spouse’s job.
The other problem is that there is no one specific activity that adulting is or that we could perfect. Maybe we can get really good at paying the bills on time or checking the oil in the car, but we could never be a professional at adult life…right?
No. No one is just born being good at life – Not you, me, your friends or even Beyoncé.
They might be good at singing, marketing, selling or sailing, but that doesn’t make them good at life in general.
In the book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains that it takes, on average, about 10,000 hours to be really, really good at something – like in the realm of a professional. In other words, a lot of practice makes pretty well perfect.
If you’re in your thirties, you have lived more than 10, 000 hours, but are those all good, adulting hours? Probably not.
Here’s some math I got obsessed with this past weekend while pondering:
By 30, we’ve lived for 262, 800 hours – clearly more than 10,000 hours, but that’s pretty ‘normal life’ hours.
If we take the government’s suggestion and say that age of majority is 19 (in Canada), I’ve been an adult for 11 years or 96,360 hours.
Again, quite a bit more than Gladwell requires.
But, if I’m really honest, it hasn’t been until recently that I really knew what being an adult truly meant besides being able to stay out really late, being able to drink alcohol and finally being able to curse around my mom.
I think that feeling of truly being responsible for myself and my actions and even thoughts and mood has only come to me lately – maybe when I turned 31. That was 3 years ago – so, really, I only have 26,280 hours experience.
But it also hasn’t been consistent.
There are still times that I regress and reject being an adult. I skirt responsibilities, avoid talking about serious topics, and sometimes spend hours under a blanket watching Netflix, hiding from this cruel, cruel world.
And then the game will change again – and again and again.
Another way to think of it is being a parent. Everyone wants to be the perfect parent. Moms especially have guilt and perfection complexes out the ying-yang. They stretch themselves to reach an unreachable goal of being a ‘perfect mom’ and having the perfect routine (even though they’re doing a pretty perfect job already in most cases).
But think about it: how can you be a perfect parent to a growing human? Every minute the game changes. As soon as you’re a great parent to a five-year-old, he turns six! As soon as you’ve mastered the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she turns around and says she wants jam!!
Perfect is just not gonna happen. And that’s the joke.
You’re not supposed to be good at it. The game will inevitably change again and all we can do is use our experience it to live it. We just have to marvel at the variables, the changes, the curveballs and take note of how we get slightly better each time we’re under the gun.
And the cool thing is that we’re all in the same boat. Not one single one of us has it all figured out. I know you’ve heard that before but this time, really listen.
For some reason, we’re all guilty of believing that some people have an extra magic gene that makes life simple. It may look like it – but it’s not. It never is.
Life is never something anyone can perfect or hack or do better than anyone else. And this is precisely why we have to acknowledge that we LIVE life and not DO life.
We can DO yoga, homework, singing and sailing – but not life. Life won’t let you DO anything to it but LIVE it.
But take comfort in this:
You have some experience being kind
You have some experience with working hard
You have a lot of experience with love
Hopefully, you’ve racked up quite a score in these areas.
Because adulting is hard. Yep – we like it like that. It’s meant to be. It’s what keeps us on our toes, and never lets us become too comfortable with mediocrity. It will continue to have memes created in its name, proclaiming its harshness. And, all the while, we laugh because we know the futility of our protest.
So don’t give in or give up. Continue the pursuit of betterment because that’s what we are meant to LIVE. It’s a big part f what it means to be a grownup – never give up, even when it’s hard.
I don’t mean to discourage you – quite the opposite. I want all of us to embrace our adulthood as something that we are blessed to experience. I urge you to remember that you’re doing everything just fine – there’s not really a wrong way – we’re all in this experiment together!
So even when the game changes completely, we just have to show up, love, work and continue to be kind. That’s all we can really say we’re good at, but it’s actually quite a lot. Don’t you think?
What part of adulting do you struggle with? Have you found any area that you think you may have mastered? Any advice for when we compare ourselves to others?
I’d love to talk about these ideas so leave a comment!
And if you’re ready to step into adulthood to become the best version of YOU, get in touch for a FREE coaching consultation – firstname.lastname@example.org.
And be sure to download your copy of The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goalmaking HERE