Adulting is hard.
When I was very small and found out that Santa was a huge secret, and that everyone around me was in on it, I accepted it with good grace. I thought, ‘That’s some good secret keeping! Good job, adults.‘ Then I watched my parents sort through taxes and insurance, bank accounts and mortgages and doctor visits, and I decided – I’m still not quite sure how – that this must be part of a different, separate adult conspiracy.
‘Clearly,‘ I thought, ‘this is We’ll-Tell-You-When-You’re-Older material.‘ Teachers never touched on this Very Important Serious Stuff between classes on soil erosion and the Irish civil war. Over time, I developed this notion that when people turned 18 they were invited to a place where they were given a crash course on Adulting. They would emerge on the other side knowing all these things that adults seem to just mysteriously know.
Imagine my disappointment when I realised that we’re completely on our own.
There is no Adulting Hogwarts. There is no manual.* We learn things by osmosis, mostly. A lot of things seem to happen due to a peculiar domino effect; one friend gets engaged, and then suddenly, before you know it, you have seven weddings to attend in the upcoming year. Or one friend moves abroad, and suddenly you have five far-flung addresses saved in your phone. Or one friend bought a house, and now it is completely normal to discuss where people bought their rugs/couches/lamps/sideboards and you hear the words “I really like that kind of tile” coming out of your mouth and floating in the air like a damning indictment of your age.
It’s frightening, honestly.
So here I am, officially an adult, e-mailing people about insurance and fumbling my way through taxback forms. I get my hair cut about once a year. I have never in my life been to a nail salon. I’m not even entirely sure what they do there or why cuticles are a bad thing. I’ve been meaning to go to the dentist for about two years now. I’ve had friends over for dinner parties (the first of which felt extremely mature until we consumed six bottles of wine between the six of us… and one person wasn’t drinking), but haven’t yet managed to come up with a way to consistently keep my room tidy. I am a Child-Adult collision. I listen to bluesy jazz in the evening to wind down, but dance to pop music when I’m home alone. I own a few very sensible pairs of boots, but my favourite shoes are holographic rainbow glitter high-tops. I have a drinks cabinet, but I also have a sweet drawer.
In the last few years, I’ve noticed an unwelcome amount of pressure to get engaged, and get married, and have a baby. Relatives who went straight from adolescence to adulthood without the twenty-something FIND YOURSELF phase we have today are getting antsy, warning me about my biological clock despite the fact that I hear absolutely no ticking of any kind (maybe it needs batteries?). They’re more bothered about the state of my uterus and what they see as my impending spinsterhood than I have ever been.
Now, friends have started to have children. Quite cute children, really; little chubby-cheeked, sweetly-named children with huge eyes and grabby hands. In order to give appropriate Welcome To The World gifts, I’ve had to knuckle down and learn more adulting stuff. I’ve had to learn about why people swaddle their babies like burritos, and how an Ergobaby is useful, and (shudder) what a Nosefrida** is. It’s been an education.
… And while I’m clicking ‘add to cart’ on all these things, and happily playing with the stuffed toys that I get to purchase for future babies, in a separate tab I am researching cat toys, or dog beds. I am not ready for a baby. Babies are HARD WORK. They don’t fool me with their gummy smiles and tiny adorable shoes. They cry! And they wear nappies! And they don’t let you sleep past 6.30am!
No thank you. Not yet.
So for the moment, I am happy to continue in the Slow Learner group, moving one adult-sized baby step at a time, to the tune of Gold Dust by DJ Fresh.***
*In some ways I guess you could say Google is our manual? I have no idea how people learned things in the age before Google. Imagine having to rely on your friends, family, and the encyclopedia Britannica for all of your life lessons. Just the thought alone is alarming!
**If you’ve never heard of it, don’t Google it.
***At the same time if anybody has suggestions on how to deal with concerned relatives please leave a comment below.