Being a “grown-up” is an interesting-ass journey. I say journey deliberately, because there’s nothing static about being an adult. And it’s taken me almost four years since graduating from college to come to a regular acceptance of this (but I still forget sometimes).
I used to believe that adulthood was this final destination of having-your-shit-together-ness. Like, once I hit a certain age, then all of the blocks would go in their right place and everything would be set. I would just kind of live. There would be no more lessons. There would be no more change. I would pretty much feel the same everyday.
You know, I’d settle in and settle down. My life would be “settled.”
But that shit just doesn’t exist. In a way, adulthood is way more fucked up than adolescence. The stakes are higher. There’s a lot more going on. Things are in a constant state of flux. But the gift of adulthood is that you’re old enough to know who you are (mostly) and you’re more or less independent, so no one can tell you shit.
In the past few years, I’ve achieved the “I know who I am” part of adulthood, but I’m still working on not giving a shit what others think or have to say. I look at how much things have changed in the last four years, and I get why people would have certain opinions. When I graduated from college, I was more or less on the “right track,” according to others. I had a full-time job. I was doing community-based work on the side. I was saving money and being responsible.
I was well on my way to having a “normal” life. And then I realized: That’s not what I want.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a normal life. Working full-time and paying your bills and doing what you need to do to get by and make a living. That shit is real, and I don’t have any uppity-ass feelings about people who deal with the realities and responsibilities and obligations of real world adult life in this way. In some ways, my lifestyle is very Disneyland-ish to the “normal” way.
But it didn’t feel authentic. It didn’t feel like something I fit into. It didn’t feel like something I would regret in a few years. And so, I made a change. I quit my full-time, well-paying job. I got a part-time job working from home. I set out to do less community-based work and focus more on my writing and creative dreams.
And then I spent a long time being confused and scared and complacent. I kind of failed at it. I was lazy. I was self-pitying. I was a hot mess. And then I got over myself.
I was able to get an editorial internship, which became a part-time job with a media company and website I admire and respect. I was able to get some of my work published online. I was able to pursue other creative projects in the meantime. I was able to get folks to understand, “Hey, this isn’t me fucking around. This is me trying to do the slow, maddening work of building a life and a career as an artist.”
And now, I have this life that not very many people comprehend, but I know folks accept the fact that writing and telling stories and producing media is what I plan on doing with my life. That’s a great feeling. Being able to say, “Hey, I’ve been putting in the work and it’s slowly paying off,” is a great feeling.
I feel proud that I was able to make this change and be this self-determined adult, even though there are plenty of ways I still don’t have it figured out and I’m not where I want to be. I still live at home with a parent. I still don’t pay rent or have a place that is completely my own. My finances and savings aren’t where I want them to be. I don’t have a retirement plan. I spend more time sleeping and fucking around on the Internet than I should. I still don’t know how to treat my body right. I’m still single. I still dress and look like a teenage boy most days.
But these are the things I do have: I have a vision for my life that honors my passions, talents, and purpose. I have my own money. I have my own car. I know exactly who I am and who I am not. I have no misgivings about how the world works. I have family and friends and a whole tribe of people whom I love deeply. I have a job that allows me to put into daily practice all the things I believe about writing and storytelling and media and community. I have the time and space to figure things out, which is a luxury not afforded to many people. I have parents who love and support me.
I have so much, so much, so much.