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Life on my own #49: Notes on adulting

Disclaimer: I'm not qualified.

To dispense advice on being an adult, you first have to have a decent amount of experience. Four years post-college doesn't reach that level.

But one of my (ubiquitous) younger friends let her Facebook world know the other day, and I quote, "I can't believe....that in five days I'll be 20 years old. Oh my." First, let's applaud her use of Associated Press style in spelling out a single-digit number.

Applause, please. You're missing your cue!

Now that that's out of the way, let's reminisce a little. When I turned 20, I wasn't even with my family. It was the semester I studied abroad, in Costa Rica, and I managed to get through half the day without anyone making a big fuss over me and my little coming-of-age. Then the student coordinator found out.

I'm pretty sure I was presented with a cake and some flowers, but I don't exactly remember. And I apparently neglected to take any photos.

That all seems like it happened eons ago. But at the time, it didn't really dawn on me that I was no longer to be called a teenager. The verbified-noun "adulting" and accompanying millennial angst hadn't even been realized yet.

Fast-forward five years. Through buying my first car. Through college graduation, where I decided to wear the most ostentatious earrings I owned just for the fun of it.

As you can see, they didn't even match the cords I'd earned.

Fast-forward through my first "real" job, my first hunt for an apartment. My first move across state lines, my first date, my first time buying a house.

I'm 25 now. Those things -- life -- all make being 20 years old a rather difficult feeling to remember.

Thing is, none of these things made me an adult. Lots of people have not done any number of the above and it doesn't make them any less over the age of 18. Not moving out of the house wouldn't have meant regression into the teenage years.

What makes you psychologically an adult, if you ask this rather novice one, is twofold: considering, and accepting, the consequences of what you do; and regularly taking care of others' needs even when it's inconvenient.

I wore a rather odd choice of earrings for my college graduation -- the one time I'd appear in umpteen reminiscence-worthy photos for many friends and once-friends. Seems foolish on the surface, but I knew the consequences. And I was fine with them; I "owned my decision," as they say now. Too bad I lost one of the earrings, or I'd still wear them now and again, too.

There are a few things I've done because of the impact they'd have on people. A good impact, is what I've hoped for. Sometimes I don't do things, too, because I don't want to change someone's life for the worse, even a little bit. It's something I'm working on now. Practicing "adulting."

It's too bad "being an adult" has become associated with "being boring." As if putting thought into any decisions, aiming for no regrets, were undesirable.

What they don't know is ... "adulting" is worth it. Worth the energy, worth the weird looks when you don't really want to do something because you don't want the headache in the morning... or sometimes worth the headache when the evening before was a blast.

Worth staying up till 12:30 a.m. to finish laundry so you can get more things done in the morning.



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