In case you didn’t know, I am 22 years old, aka a fully-fledged adult. I have never been in denial that finishing school and/or moving out of home (or in my case, both, at the same time) makes you a (under)qualified adult. I knew that I would have to pay bills and rent and remember to wash my clothes regularly, and none of that stuff really bothered me. In fact, I was excited. Adulthood sounded like a lot of freedom and a complete lack of curfews and bedtimes. What wasn’t there to like?
Four years in (man, how fast that’s gone!) and I’m still kicking. Responsibilities have been added and changed, and tax debts have been and gone. I’ve fucked up on forms and managed to escape a jury duty, and accidentally forgot to vote once. I’ve started planning overseas trips 2 years in advance, because I still don’t have a full time job and still enjoy online shopping.
Sure, at times shit has been stressful (I’m talking about you, shared electricity bill) and some of my neighbours are a little batshit crazy, but the pressure of it all still hasn’t made me utter those nasty little words my 16-year-old self would punch me for: “Oh, being an adult is so hard! I miss high school!”
And again, ugh. I’ve been seeing that incredibly silly phrase posted as instagram captions and facebook posts way too often lately, and I’m not even going to deny that those people inspired this post. I look at those people and think “man, you’re totally doing it wrong”. Unless they were spoilt little brats, then being a teenager couldn’t have been that glamourous. We had all of these yucky hormones trying to find a home in our bodies, plus the everyday peer pressures and endless mountain of useless homework, and not to mention having to constantly beg to be allowed out drinking multiple weekends in a row (no, thank you for that one, Dad and Kylie, if you gave in easier I’d probably have liver failure by now). Life was a constant battle of trying to fit in and get those (essentially useless) good grades and not get suspended, even though at-home suspensions looked like the crusiest things EVER.
I had a lot of fun as as teenager, and have quite a few good stories to tell out of it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten all of the things I despised and longed to be ridden of (mostly just being told what to do, which is still very much an issue, haha). Sure, everything seems simpler looking back, and even though I do miss the days of endless Skins marathons and that period where Hilary Duff was killing it in the film industry, it still isn’t enough to make me want to jump in a temperamental time machine and hang out as a 15 year old again.
Being an adult has been the best thing that’s happened to me. I’ve learnt how to get creative, and deliver a stellar sob story to Telstra when I’ve overspent on my data (thank god for home wifi now!), build a lot of kmart flat pack furniture and so much more. I’ve organised holidays all from the comfort of my own bed, and saved up for those holidays with no other financial support. I’ve handled more hungover days at work than I can count, and have learnt to reign in my impulse-purchasing habits. I’ve decorated my house, exactly how I wanted it, and have covered the walls with artwork that I adore. I have a collection of cameras that I don’t get to use enough, and bookcases full of novels that’ve become friends during tough times.
I’ve learnt that you can’t hide behind a screen forever, and if you want to make friends you have to kick aside those nerves and just make conversation. Hot tip: People love talking about themselves! Unless you’re a self-absorbed asshole who makes sure every conversation revolves around them and their views, then you’ve probably got some things left to share. Especially to strangers. Getting to know people is actually the best, and it’s so nice to reflect on how friendships have formed and pat yourself on the back for making that happen in the real world.
Since being an adult, I’ve gone to gigs and festivals whenever I’ve wanted. I’ve made amazing new friends and rekindled friendships with old ones. I’ve made one of my favourite cities my second home-base, and have made my life-long dreams of visiting Melbourne a reality. I’ve become a lot braver than I used to be, and now look forward to the prospect of solo travel as a way to self reflect and explore without the hassle of having to leave/stay because someone else wants to (this is particularly important when it comes to art galleries and coffee shops. Sometimes a girl just likes to hang out, ya know?).
I can’t even begin to describe how much my personal style has changed. I was always a fan of dressing differently, but also had to try and do this in a way that avoided getting bullied at school for it, so it was a fine line that I was constantly tripping on. Now, I try not to give a fuck what other people think of my choices. I still have a shitty little voice in my head that comments on other people’s dress sense (mostly just thinking how unflattering something is for their body shape – bloody Trinny and Susannah have brainwashed me!) but I always follow it up with thinking “as long as they feel comfortable/good that’s all that matters”. I think my dress sense is pretty tame on the world scale, but unfortunately most people in small towns/cities don’t actually consider that to be a thing, and enjoy the odd stare here and there because they simply don’t get it. Being an adult has taught me that, and given me the confidence to wear things that I love and not care about the irrelevant stares.
This mindset also affects your personal appearance too. It takes time to build up confidence and resilience against the stares of strangers. When you’re young and vulnerable and haven’t seen much of the world (or understand it yet), it’s hard not to be constantly worrying how you are reflected in others’ eyes. Getting tattoos was something that really flipped this switch for me. I knew people were going to stare. I knew they were going to comment. I knew they weren’t going to understand the meaning even when I told them “it’s lyrics from a song I like”, but I got the suckers anyway. And I love each and every one of my tattoos and wouldn’t remove them for anyone.
As usual, this post has kind of strayed from the original focus, but it also hasn’t. Reflecting on all of these aspects of my life just proves how much I’ve grown and bloomed since becoming an adult. I’m never going to be I’m the poster girl for how it’s done, or pretend like I didn’t screw up here and there, but I’ve made it this far and certainly don’t want to look back.
I like having the space and freedom to come home and take my bra and pants off and make tea at all hours and write when I’m feeling inspired. I like not having to care about school politics or getting in trouble for not wearing my ugly formal uniform on Fridays. I like being able to sleep next to my boyfriend without having to ask for permission for a sleepover. I like it all, honestly. Even the bill paying. It’s kind of satisfying knowing that I’m doing okay enough to pay my bills and eat and have fun money left on the side. Hell, it’s just nice not having to do the dishes every night.