Nobody quite tells you how you are supposed to grow into being an adult. Oh, sure, they place you in this large box with chairs and say, "Okay, this is going to get you ready for Kindergarten!" After you get there, it's, "And now this will get you ready for Elementary School!" But then you get there, and it's, "It's okay--don't worry. These few years here will get you ready for Jr. High." And then, "You've got just these few years to learn a bit about life, but you have High School to really learn about that."
And then you're in High School. Apparently, the years in that hell hole have prepared you for two things: Life and College. You can choose either and turn out just fine. But, they dangle that carrot of, "But, if you go to College, you're going to be prepared for life."
What they don't tell you is how much bullshit this is.
I, personally, have always been considered a late bloomer in many respects. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this would include the eye-opening reality of how life is. I'm also a fast learner, however. And I've found that there are five huge stress inducing fucks about life I never would have ever dreamt I would consider difficult--or at all stressful.
Hear me out. I knew that bills sucked. It's all adults ever talk about. There are songs written about it, and I grew up with Taxman. But I never thought about how much stress my little mind would take because of them.
It started out small, with me. I got to drive my parents' car, so it was my duty to fill it with gas, since I would be the one driving it. My parents gave me a cellphone, which was to only be used in dire situations, so I didn't text or call people. Ever. (Imagine that world, Children of the Technology Age)
Once I graduated High School, I then got the "You've got a job, so start paying insurance" card. Which, I didn't mind. I drove the car, it was fair. So, gas and some insurance. I got a part time job selling video games, so I was happy all around, for the most part. I ended up needing to take out some loans for my trip to New Zealand, but whatever (more on that later).
As I climbed the ladder toward graduating college, the haze of bills became only a slight fog. They made me take a class on being able to pay back my loans, in which I realized that I would be in debt for at least 5 years of my life immediately leaving campus. I understood this, but I didn't think about it--I'd have a job immediately, after all. Except, I didn't. I didn't know I'd be spending three to five months searching for a job directly after someone telling me, "And here is your diploma!" Or literally would be bending over backwards to try and impress someone so I could help in a documentary film--which got me scraping by.
My heart became a bit heavier with the need to find something, but I was in the safety of my parents' home. In a desperate attempt to become a part of this American Dream, I used my credit card to purchase Real Job Clothes, to dress the part of what I imagined my American Dream would look like.
My first job, like many, started in debt.
And I needed to contribute more, after I finally found a decent wage. The car insurance, my loans, the credit card, cell phone plan (as I'd started using it more, finally getting on to what this CTA was all about), health insurance, dental insurance, and rent. And also the fact that taxes really do seem like a bitch, with this nice big check that would have been bigger had the state not decided to make sure our roads were safe for the winter. This doesn't include my other random expenses, as I'd also decided it was high time to start eating healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables don't come cheap like frozen pizzas and the large Minnesotan meals that you can freeze for the whole week.
I'm quite frugal, so I've managed to save very well, but with all these upon me, and the impending notion of needing to purchase a new car, has caused me to also be quite nervous about changing my lifestyle. And this is without a mortgage or, frankly put, a social life.
I've seen the movies, people. Where your family is fucked up, and you can't seem to see that it's not just you, and all you want to do is hide.
I wasn't exactly that type of film.
But I had my moments.
I had a brother who loved to torment me (and I later learned how to torment properly as well). I have the grandparents that are so proud of you, you're positive that you're disappointing every they've talked to about you when you meet them. I also have the grandparents that only we children talk to because of awkward past happenings.
And the parents who are getting older.
I'm not sure about everyone else, but there seems to be a certain way we look at our parents: crazy old, and, yet, immortal.
Recently, I've had to come to grips that, eventually, my parents won't be around any longer. It's frightening, when the people who raised you aren't able to move with such virility as they once could. Getting up seems to be a chore; they start to wear cheaters; their hair goes different colors as they dye it to make sure no one sees that it's grey. And you start to do a lot more of the hard labor, because they can't do it by themselves.
As if this weren't bad enough, they also start to see you as an adult. And also a child at the same time. They talk to you about adult things, like bills, and how they are stressful and getting worse, and how to get things you really want by going into more debt and becoming more stressful. But then they swap hands to talking to you like a child when you bring things about, such as explaining why you'd need a Phillips screwdriver over a flat head, or giving you the School House Rock version of what it means to clean the bathroom properly. And don't forget that side dish of guilt when you talk back, as they're still "your parents and will be given respect."
Growing up, I thought that after smashing down that brick wall of teenage-ism would bring about this firm road to walk on with other adults. Conversations would be normal with rare disagreements, because we were adults now. People would always arrive on time, because we were adults now. I would never have to worry about what the fuck gossip was being passed around, because we were adults now.
Little did I know that the only thing Jr. High prepared me for was realizing that more of that stress would be played out in the real world, no matter whether you care or not. While you could ignore Suzy trying to make fun of the music you're playing in your CD player on the bus, Suzy can make your work environment a living hell if you end up getting all Suzy's in the work place.
Children are taught these right away. I think they first started back in the day because there was nothing ever to do but stare at rocks. Someone finally said, "How about we invent some crap so we aren't so bored?" And, thus, hobbies were born. Now, hobbies are almost the bane of my existence.
I have too many. I crochet, bake, video game, read, write, make jewelry, watch television, run, have dogs, search the internet, make collages... The list can go on forever on what I love to do. When I didn't have work, it was giving us something to do and keeping us out of trouble (hopefully). Now that I'm an adult?
I'm given stress on which hobby to choose, since I don't have much time anymore, and by the time I choose, I have such little time to enjoy it, so I stress while doing it because all I can think about is not being able to truly enjoy it in the first place.
And even our hobbies are suddenly about being an adult. You can't just run and skip around with no direction--you get the proper clothes and shoes, listen to music, and focus toward that goal. And what's almost sad? I enjoy that. As a child, it drove me nuts. But that type of running is almost like a solitude for me now, a meditation. I can't just pay any old video game now, or watch just any movie, or read any book. I've become too accustomed, too much of an expertise, and need a certain type to satisfy my needs.
Never in my childhood would I consider a hobby work.
4. Having a Home
As a child, one always hates chores. Bah to dishes, blerg to laundry, and a huge ugh to dusting.
Now, they're you're hobbies.
Having a home is work, especially if you own. There's the lawn, the roof, the cleaning of everything, and, on top of it all, the bills. It was one thing to two to do while I was a kid. Pick up some dog poop and mow the lawn. Vacuum the stairs and pick up the living room. If I were lucky, I'd just do the bathroom, where you could literally just hose the whole place down and let it dry naturally while sitting with the door closed, reading about how awesome it would be to have magic.
But it's not just the fact that you're cleaning--it's that you care about the cleaning. You want it to look nice because friends and family will be over. Plus, you live there, and it's so heavenly to come home to a clean house, just how Mom used to.
You worry about how the neighbors perceive you, so you're cutting the lawn and weed whipping once a week. Plus, power washing the house and repainting the garage. All this upkeep to make your expensive house be more expensive.
I never anticipated this much work. More than one time while growing older, I gave up on the room I was attending to because of boredom, and my mother would later come by and do it herself, or drag me back to it and scrutinize my ability to dust (to this day, I don't think I have that gene of dusting properly). And now that I'm 25, it is a combination of stress and relaxation. There is nothing easier in the world than laundry. You wash, dry, fold. Wash the dish. Scrub the toilet. Sing to Queen.
No, the stress suddenly isn't actually doing the boring chores. It's when you realize that that is all you're doing. Constant upkeep. And it never goes away.
For not the first time in my life, I have wondered how this came to be. It seems to easy and stress free. People kiss, giggle, hold hands, and get married.
Adults are lying to you.
Love is the hardest thing I have ever tried to accomplish in my life. It is fascinating how love will cause you to swell with pride and want to punch the same person who caused that pride in the same breath. To the family I love most dearly, I have also said the worst things I could have ever spewed forth to their faces. One second, all I want to do is hold my puppy close; the next, I want to strangle her for peeing right in front of me on the carpet.
The dumbest things will spark an argument. Or a crying session. Or even awkward silence.
And the amount of trust involved in this thing. I can't tell if it's trust or lying to myself anymore. I can't tell if I'm deluding myself into thinking it's happiness. You literally have to take that fragile creature of trust, which can be thrown on purpose, hitting the ground without a scratch, and can also be dropped on accident, shattering into thousands of pieces, and use that as you're defense mechanism whenever there is a question of doubt.
It's like I'm taking a rubber chicken into battle. Hopefully, the opposing side will find you an idiot and leave you alone rather than running you through.
And, yet, it's the most exciting thing anyone can ever do in their lives. It's so powerful, you forget the stress of bills, family, hobbies, and home. There are moments of this clarity, where you know that everything will be absolutely okay, without a shred of error, and that this is where you are meant to be. It even takes away from those stressful moments of love in the first place, where you are forced to make a decision on either trusting the bond or just accepting that you will never see the man you like in the same light ever again (not that I've ever been there.... or anything...).
All of these things, your school "prepares" you for. You read books, you study for tests, you analyze the science that is not in the least bit life.
And then you're booted out into the real world, where you really learn that these tools will snap, because they're just made from China pieces of shit. You have to build your own way, scraping your knees and banging your head along the way. You have to decide whether to live, or to just apply the ointment gently and move on without really realizing that, in the end, school prepared you for nothing, and nothing will ever really prepare you for anything unless you're willing to prepare yourself.
And that, my friends, is why we have to take the Zombie Apocalypse seriously.