Adulting: On Your Own
At the risk of sounding like an old lady, there is a phrase out there today from the "younger generation" called ADULTING. Basically it covers any and all tasks a person has to do when they aren't kids. Paying bills, grocery shopping, maintaining vehicles and your home. This ADULTING is a lot of work. Hard work. Those of us who have been doing it for a while now, know this and there is a part of us that want to say to our grown children "See, I told you so!" but, the truth is, when I see my kids going through the same stuff I went through, I feel just as bad for them going through it--with this one caveat. I know it will pass. This month, I am going to share a bit of my "old lady" wisdom as to what helped me through different stages of ADULTING. Maybe it can help ease some of the pain of growing up.
Moving Out - The first stage of ADULTING seems to happen when we first move out of our parents' house. Whether it be to go to college or just be out on our own, it's the first time we really begin to feel the weight of being on our own. It feels weird staying in a new place, but exciting too. All of a sudden some of the things we took for granted seem to be exposed when they are missing! For instance, laundry doesn't just appear in nicely folded piles on your bed. Or, for those of you who grew up doing your own laundry (kudos Mommas who taught your kids that!) maybe you will miss the meals you had a home (even if they may have been home cooked only once a week), a clean toilet or maybe it will be how much quieter it is when Mom isn't there reminding you about stuff anymore. At first, the silence may be golden, but, then when you DO forget to get up on time, or you DO forget to do your homework or you DO forget to eat right...well her voice will be missed. This is all normal and it doesn't mean you can't handle being on your own. It's just takes time to adjust to the new things you will be doing. Everyone goes through it. The first time I got sick when I was on my own was the worst. I felt so alone even though my mom was a phone call away. I wanted to be strong so I didn't call...but it was super hard. That was about 38 years ago and I still remember how I felt. But, from then on, I could handle it much better.
Bills & Responsibilities - Of course, if you didn't move out for school, or maybe you are now done with school and on to working and paying your own way, the bigger, nastier phase of ADULTING is paying the bills. You learn that it takes a lot to keep a place running. Even if you make enough money, the stress of knowing that bill is coming feels very different on your own shoulders. Not to mention when you don't have enough money to easily pay the bills and have to learn the consequences of paying a bill late or when you forget and miss paying it altogether. Those aren't fun lessons to learn. Sometimes I wish when I made all my silly early money mistakes that all that was saved for me in the future... I might have a great nest egg right now! You also start learning the physical responsibilities of keeping your own space clean. Maybe you learn how to keep it dirty, before you learn to clean it, but, you figure out that eventually you can't stand the mess anymore and need to deal with it. For me, I loved the idea I could clean any time I wanted and I would procrastinate as long as I could. The worst of it was I could still hear my mother in my head telling me what I needed to do. Eventually I would do it just to shut up the voice in my head! Even if you have all the bills paid and your place spotless, just knowing you will have to do it all again can feel overwhelming at times. It can feel like a lot. I have learned that if I do my best most of the time, other times letting some things go is ok.
Sharing Your Space - When all that responsibility is costing us cash and stress, we decide we need to live with a roommate to help share with the cost and the stress! The funny thing is, although it helps with the money (sometimes) and in theory it's supposed to help with the responsibilities, living with someone else is a whole new animal. Even if you have learned to deal with someone in a dorm situation and have figured out what personality is better for you to live with all the time, it's still different when you are sharing an apartment or home with someone and are paying your own way. You still feel the pressure of all the stuff that comes with your own place--on top of some mounting resentment if the other person doesn't seem to care as much as you do! It can add friction and problems and can even ruin relationships. Feelings can get hurt. People say stupid things when they are hurt or angry and it can change the dynamic of everything. It's not like when you get in a fight with your parents, because you and your parents generally get over stuff and still be family, but, with others....sometimes it can damage things beyond repair. Living with someone will teach you a lot about human nature and yourself. Give others some slack to be who they are and stand up for yourself when you need to. Decide if someone loading the dishwasher wrong is worth losing a friendship over!
Sharing Your Life - By this time, some of us have found someone we want to share our lives with ALL OF THE TIME and figure it will work more like it did with our family. You may get on each others nerves, but, you love this person and you both will get over it. You are maturing. You both (hopefully) have learned what it's like ADULTING for a bit and figure you can handle things better together. For real. So you take that step...Committing to someone isn't about just loving them, it's about being responsible for their well being, too. Mutually responsible. It's about taking care of not just your home, but, each other and figuring out what works--and what doesn't. At first, it may seem you find what doesn't work more often than what does, but, if you both are truly together, you learn that and grow together. Before you know it, you are handling a lot of things in your life that terrified you in the beginning and doing a pretty good job of it. So good, in fact, you decide to take another step in ADULTING: Becoming a Parent. We'll tackle THAT one next time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Mother of Managing Broker
Photo Credit: Tim Gouw