‘Growing Up: You’re Doing Alright!’ was published in Cult Noise magazine in May 2015
I’ve always believed the day I am in complete control of my finances will be the day I’ll know that my days of growing up are over and that I’m finally surviving adulthood.
I’d like to be in a house with money set aside to cover the weekly food shop, and I’d love to have a holiday savings pot on a shelf, out of reach of any children (or grandchildren, depending). I always thought this, and only this, would be how I would know I’d become a grown-up. And every other significant change beforehand – mental or physical because, damn, we get those too – was merely just a stepping stone over to ultimate stability.
Head facing south with my hands pushing the skin of my face towards my ears, I am considering the reality of my finances for the first time as a twenty-year-old because, you know, it’s much different considering finances now than, say, as a nineteen-year-old. Ugh. ‘What are all these numbers?’ I think. ‘And why are they so low?’
I thought £100 stretched to a hundred different needs in a month, but I must’ve assumed I could meet them all in Poundland.
My measly weekend job only racks in about a third of what I need to spend on travel to university alone. I also have four birthdays some months, parties, nights out, eye-tests, hair appointments (…and the list goes on). A generally large list of monthly outgoings that expands rapidly, in summary. Plus, I have very specific needs. Needs which can only be met by going into Paperchase with my student card and reaping the benefits of the discount.
If being financially stable was all that proved our maturity, I think some of us would still be in trouble in our 40s. When money isn’t playing nice, I like to think about what else constitutes being an adult and how far I’ve come from my timid school days.
Knowing that I’m not the only person in this position, I have devised a list of key traits to share with you that will show you that you are not as useless at this whole ‘adult thing’ as you might think you are. (This is in a bid to provide some self-assurance in the process.)
Growing up: We’re doing just fine…
1. You no longer have to sleep with a light on.
You might think I’m kidding here but as of Halloween 2015, I will have slept with a light on every single night for the past five years – give or take a few brave evenings. Why? Because Paranormal Activity and a bunch of hyper fifteen-year-olds was apparently very damaging to the nervous system. It resulted in complete petrification as well as entirely reinforcing my trust issues, not to mention disrupting my sleeping habits for the foreseeable future. I completely admire people who can sleep peacefully with the lights off in the same way I am in awe of those who can walk upstairs in darkness without totally freaking out.
2. You are comfortable being your own person
Long gone are the days of begging your mates to come to the loo with you so that you can urinate at a party. You’re realising that you are your own person now. Not only can you walk from a to b alone without peeing yourself, you can do it without developing a rash from wondering if people think you’re a loner.
3. You realise that if you want something you have to get it yourself
I used to cringe when my mother would go back up to the counter in a restaurant to complain about an error in our order.
There was a point where I’d genuinely prefer to go hungry than tell a worker they’d drowned my wrap in the salad dressing I detested – and had asked them to leave out. But you reach a point where you can step back and see that everyone is complaining for not getting what they asked for. I mean, why should you suffer because someone’s shift was due to end in five minutes and you were their last customer? It applies to everything: you get nothing if you ask for nothing. It’s not rude or even unexpected, and it definitely isn’t personal. As you grow, you can just ask for what you’re entitled to, and everyone is still your friend.
4. You can actively decide who you want to spend your time with
Time feels more precious when you’re older. I read that our 20s are filled with temporary friends and acquaintances due to people, as adults, experimenting on their unique journey, moving from thing to thing to find out what sparks the lights in their eyes.
When this happens, you start to value the importance of your own happiness and understand that it’s not selfish to do so. The group of friends you shared those high school memories with might not be as on-board with your dreams as other new people might be, so we passively drift from them. You don’t need to worry about being lonely anymore because, by this point, you’ll have already become your own person. Therefore, the need to spend time with people you don’t necessarily want to – who suck the good energy straight out of your mojo – is limited.
Header image courtesy of Alex via Flickr