Part One – How did I get here?
Did you wake up this morning, get up, stumble through to the kitchen and wish, “Just once, couldn’t someone else put the coffee on?“
Was it dark out? Cold, even? Or did you need to take the dog for a walk so he could poo?
Then, congratulations, YOU are an adult!
This may come as a surprise to many, but we ALL feel, some days, as if we are woefully inept at what some are now referring to as, “ADULTING”. There is this terrible sensation of being out of your depth, clueless and stumbling along, just trying to make it back to the place you call home, where you can snuggle on the couch with your pooch and your partner. Life is hard. And yes, it does seem like there are days that are harder than others.
The question is, how do we become masters of this unwanted destiny? How do we successfully navigate adulthood? To say there are simple answers to these questions is a mistake. The honest fact of it is: you are the ONLY ONE who can figure out HOW to best live your own life. However, all is not lost. Our parents, teachers and other mentors throughout our childhood were dropping hints, clues and instructions which we should have been picking up as we grew from small and helpless to largely independent and self-sustaining. Were you listening? Did you observe the lessons and store the knowledge for future application? If yes, then well done. You’re most of the way to being as clueless as the rest of us. If not, worry not. You are as woefully unprepared for adulthood as everyone around you.
Why is this? you may be asking. Well, this question does have a fairly simple answer. The world has CHANGED. It is not the same place our parents grew up in. It is not the world we were born into and it will continue to change at a rate which will leave us chasing ideals and promises for the rest of our days. There is chaos and uncertainty all around us. There is war, famine, soaring housing costs, student debt and climate change. Our prospects for a happy future are bleak. All of these factors combine to make us want to bury our heads in the comfort of our mobile device apps, numb to the pain of being an adult in this vicious hostile environment.
To say we are unprepared for our future is the truth. The awful, hard-to-look-at future is scary, overwhelming and emotionally draining. So, what can we do about it? Here we are, adults in this scary world and we have to get by, right? We need to survive and even – God forbid! – thrive. How do we even start to go about this?
The first thing we can do is own our very presence in the world. You and I are here. That is a fact. What does that look like? What are your circumstances? What would you like to change about those circumstances?
Secondly, we can look beyond ourselves at others. Who is within our immediate area of care and influence? Who can we trust and share our struggles with? Why are these people important to us?
Third, we can look at our environment. What are some things I can do to improve my environment? Do I have a debt load which is contributing to a toxic environment? How am I a climate change contributor or fighter?
Lastly, observe yourself with others and in your environment. What am I doing every day which I can alter to make my own world less toxic? Who is in my life whom I feel deeply for, and why? Where are my areas of weakest engagement with the world? Is it home, work, or my community?
It may seem everyone wants a piece of you, and you’d be right to have this suspicion, because they do. What you may not realise is you have the power to choose how and when to engage the world and also who will benefit the most from your engagement. Sometimes, it will be you. Never forget to take care of your own needs before taking care of others. You can’t pay someone else’s rent if it means yours will be overdue. But you can help them move to a more affordable accommodation situation. You can cook and freeze meals for them. Your help will be appreciated, and it won’t have caused resentment or strife for you. LEARN TO RESPECT YOUR OWN BOUNDARIES.
Boundary setting is one of the greatest assets of being a functional adult. No, it’s not being selfish to draw a line around your self respect, your emotional well-being and your mental health. You can’t have a successful relationship without compromise and flexibility, but you also can’t discard boundaries which preserve your integrity as a contributing and healthy partner in your relationship.
With that we come back to who makes the coffee in the morning and who walks the dog. The question, “How did I get here?” can be answered with this: You came by way of the passage of time, and hopefully, you learned some things as you grew which are helping you to be a compassionate, caring, self-aware and functional adult.