I just turned 23 last week. Hooray! Yet, instead of celebration, my head is full of confusion. Here I am, becoming an adult. Wasn’t I supposed to have my life figured out? Didn’t I say the same thing last year as well?
Still, a pat on the shoulder for me, I did it out of high school and university. Unscarred. What am I, a f#cking superhero or what?
Jokes aside, it is a weird feeling. I feel more confused than ever. Still, I believe I have learned so much more from life and keep on learning more and more each year. Happy to be here, to be safe and have all the possibilities I had and have.
If nothing else, in this “monumental” age, I sense myself comfortably set in the role of an adult. Not enough to buy a house, have a kid or even own a dog. Still, stable enough to keep myself alive. That’s an achievement in my book!
So, realizing all the marvellous adulthood experience I’ve got, I decided to write it down and share it with all of you that need to read it. So, to all 20-year-olds, this is my guide to becoming an adult.
Rule number 1: Stop postponing chores
Let’s start with the basics. I remember the exact day I first said to myself “Wow, I am no longer a kid”. Of course, I thought I was mature way before this, but at this moment, I truly become an adult. I was brooming in the living room in my almost empty rented apartment when the realization came to my head. My mom used to flip on me every week for not doing this exact thing and here I was, maintaining not only a single room, but a whole apartment. So independent, so cool!
In the upcoming years, I found out that irony is a real b#tch. As a teenager my room was unbearable, and I had the whole time in the world but did not care enough to clean it. Now, an adult I desperately wanted to live in a tidy apartment, yet I did not even have the time to come home. When I did, I was too tired to even look at it. There was a constant line of things stopping me from doing my chores. The hardest ones to overcome – my laziness and stagnation.
So, my young padawans, postponing a chore is not the solution. No, you are not going to be in the mood to wash your dishes in 5, 10, 20 minutes or a whole eternity. Just do it now and save yourself the trouble – there will be something new in no time.
I know, some of you out there are born tidy and mature. My sloppy ass was not one of you, so when I turned 20 – I needed to hear that.
Rule number 2: Manage your expectations
No, I don’t mean you should not dream big, nor that you should not follow those dreams. I simply advise you to be realistic about it.
I know that starting your life as an adult feels like opening yourself to all the opportunities in life. However, things usually do not happen as in our imagination.
You will be overlooked when applying for internships, discouraged by teachers, rejected for positions and disappointed by friends. However, the world goes on and this is just a part of it.
Yes, you may not live in the dream now, get the ideal job or build the perfect relationship. Still, this does not mean you will never get there. Living in the dream takes time and effort. So, if you really want it, you need to be ready for the fight.
Rule number 3: It’s okay to lose money, friends and effort
When you face your first real disappointments in life all you do may feel like a waste of time, emotion, money, or effort. Like there is no point in trying anymore.
At the end of my first semester, I needed to find and take an internship in a company. Many of my peers went abroad, but I had no money for even a single flight ticket. So, I was in a foreign country, competing with the locals on the market with a very limited skill set, not speaking the language and having no money to even travel to a bigger city for it. In the first month, I send 140 applications. I got 5 responses. All negative.
It felt like no one in this world will ever take me. Even for free. How can you ever sell yourself to a company if even you don’t believe you have the skills for the job?
I tried again and again, and time was running out. I felt like I was just wasting time even sending the applications. After all, there was no response.
However, in the end, when I finally managed to find an internship, I hold on to it for dear life. I worked day and night to learn as much as possible for my time in the company.
If I found it easy, I would never feel the gratitude I did feel. I would never feel so confident, strong, achieving and learning. So motivated to better myself.
Coming back to university after this summer felt like I was years ahead than when I started.
Rule number 4: It’s normal to feel lost
In 2016 I was lost because I did not know what to study.
In 2017 I was lost because I did not have a job.
In 2018 I found out what I want to study, but I was in the middle of the wrong education.
In 2019 I had no clue where to move after I graduate.
In 2020 I am just completely lost.
Yet, in all of those years of being completely clueless, I did so much and achieved so much. In 2016 I moved out from my parents and started living on my own. I chose education and studied hard, even though I later found out it is not for me. Still, by going on my programme’s mandatory internship I did find out what I really want to do. So, I got motivated and did my best to have the grades needed to transfer in my dream education. I found a good study job and manage to sustain myself and save up. In 2019 I wrote an amazing bachelor thesis. In 2020 I got a bachelor’s degree.
Yes, I still have no idea how things will end up. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. However, in every moment of feeling completely lost and clueless, I have gained more than I lost. Sometimes desperation brings the best of us, so don’t get discouraged too fast.
Rule number 5: Self-care is not selfish
Sometimes we tend to forget that our inner self and body need as much work as the job we spend all our time doing. Moreover, without this balance, all can crumble and fall.
Other times we have just not learned how to take time for ourselves. How it does not take from our relationships with others to get in our shells and recharge.
In any case, self-care is not selfish. It is what pampers us and motivates us to keep going. What gives us energy and strength. What helps us stop and evaluate to make the right decision.
So, don’t forget to hit pause from time to time and take a breath.
Rule number 6: You are the product of yourself
Another rule I learned the hard way was that investing in yourself is the best investment to make. Believing is not enough. You need to work hard to become who you want to be. You need to pay the price for learning. You need to invest to get a return. Simple as that.
Rule number 7: Time matters, so don’t waste it
Even though days feel like forever (especially the bad ones), time flies fast as a fly. Keep this in mind. This is the time when you have a future full of opportunities, no kids (maybe), no contracts and no mortgages. The world is your oyster. Take your chances and explore. Don’t spend the rest of your life in regrets.
Rule number 8: Make a savings account
Going back to the last two points, investing is important, no matter the value. However, when it comes to financial investments, it is good to have some support behind your back.
Receiving your first salaries may feel like spending it all on those new shoes, the bag you once saw in the store and fell in love with, the foundation your broke ass just dreamed off. Nonetheless, things can’t buy you security.
As the current situation is showing us, we never know what the future has in store for us. We don’t know when we will lose our job, lose our homes, or be hit by the economical crisis. In this case, having a savings account with some backup money may literally save your life.
Rule number 9: Make plans, but stay flexible
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the business industry is how important setting goals and making plans are. Having the way forward outlined can help you stay on track, evaluate your efforts and keep you motivated when you feel like your efforts go to waste.
However, life itself has shown me that things don’t always go as planned. Actually, they rarely do. Let Bear Grillz be your spiritual guide in those situations – Improvise, adapt, overcome!
Rule number 10: Simply don’t forget to write new rules
Are you ready? Last one! After learning about all the unspoken rules of adulthood I have found so far, you are one step closer to being a great, independent adult. Strong, adaptive and ready for all that is to come your way.
One thing you should never forget in life is that the learning never ends. Don’t forget to write your own rules, learn new lessons and keep improving. That’s what keeps the excitement and the motivation up.
Congratulations, you successfully completed the adulthood course! Welcome back next year for even more tips on growing up!
I owe a big thank you to all of you reading for being a great part of this journey! 23, come at me, I’m ready!