Remember when you were a kid, and you dreamed of becoming an adult? No one would tell you not to buy that toy. There’d be no one to make you go to bed. You could travel the world and go to your big, fancy job of dreams.
Remember how your view of adulthood shifted as you entered your teens? It wasn’t about toy-buying and bedtimes. How immature, amiright? No. Adulthood was freedom. Freedom to drive anywhere on a whim. It was freedom to make your own choices, making love recklessly, telling the establishment to stuff it, and never, ever falling victim to the sheeple state that got to your ignorant parents.
And what about through your twenties? That freedom you longed for was granted, but at what cost did it come? Perhaps that freedom racked you up student loans from changing your major six times before dropping out. Maybe it came in the form of credit card debt. All that free love bred ill-conceived relationships and perhaps “surprise” conceptions of another type.
As you approached your thirties, adulthood now seemed like this odd, discomforting blend of freedom and captivity. Suddenly that thing you once looked forward to and longed for looked less appealing — cue the Akbar meme, ladies, gents, & others. Adulthood is a trap. It is the painful realization that you had it goddamn-well made when someone told you not to buy that toy and to go the fuck to bed. You are now responsible for making such responsible choices, and you really suck at it.
It’s opening your mouth, hearing your mother fall out, and not being that bothered. You think to yourself, “Well, she’s not wrong.”
Adulting is feeling real joy because it’s trash day, and the garbage can will once again be empty. It’s feeling legitimate rage when you walk into your grocery store to realize they’ve rearranged the whole thing.
Shit. Now it’s going to take you fucking forever to find the goddamn olives, and this is why you cuss so fucking much.
It is receiving a terrible gift and not throwing it out in disgust. Instead, you tuck it away on a shelf somewhere, saved for a white elephant party next holiday season or a person you don’t like very much but get stuck with for Secret Santa at work (I swear that same candle has been passed around for a decade and a half.)
Adulthood is the unfettered satisfaction that you stood up from the couch, and nothing popped painfully. Yeah, you crackled like a bag of popcorn in the microwave, but nothing hurt doing it. It’s wondering if you’re probably too young to have crackling joints. It’s realizing you probably are. Then again, maybe you aren’t.
It’s tiny moments of existential crisis that come and go like breaths of wind.
-What if I get cancer? — We should get a kitten. — -When Dad dies, I’m gonna have to sell his house. — — Could I pull off moss green hair? — — -I wonder what my life would have been without kids. — — — Is it danishes or danish if I’m eating more than one? Danishi?
Adulthood is freeing up the time and space to watch your kids play, no matter how old they are. It’s choosing to mow the lawn instead of taking a nap. But only because you know your partner loves the smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring.
It’s farting unabashedly. It’s literally stopping to smell the roses. It’s paying a compliment to a total stranger because that sweater they’re wearing is fantastic! It’s going to bed at a reasonable time and feeling satisfied that you successfully adulted.
It’s also still being pissed that the grocery store is all out of order now.
Adulthood, as you come to understand in your thirties or forties or fifties, isn’t some grand elevation to bigger, better glory. It is a slow descent into comfort, establishing patterns and routines, so the hard, tedious parts of your life can run on autopilot. It’s isn’t an elevation to higher levels of existence and privilege. It’s a controlled fall to simple satisfactions and accepting that your body makes weird noises now.