After pouring my heart and soul into reading Grown Ups by Marian Keyes last month, I’ve determined that we will never feel like an actual grown-up.
So, welcome to another Abi thoughts, rambles, and life revelations blog!
Throughout our childhood, we idolise growing up. We cannot wait to be older and be independent.
We once assumed that with age comes clarity, and so you think when you turn 18 you’ll have your life sorted and then feel like a grown-up.
At 18 reality strikes, so you recalculate and decide that perhaps at 25 you’ll have life totally sussed out.
And yet, the nearer I get to that age, the more I begin to understand that I will never feel like a grown-up.
Keyes’ novel explores this brilliantly.
“Adulthood, for all its opportunities, meant the simultaneous accumulation of loss.”Grown Ups – by Marian Keyes
The novel follows a family all of whom are in different stages of their careers and family life, and yet no character fully has their sh*t together.
Life keeps throwing them hurdles and they are continuing to work towards this idea of ‘fixing’ their lives.
It has been a bit of a revelation for me that even when you hit milestones or the factors that society expects of you, there is never a sense of completion. It seems stupid to have once thought that I’ll feel like an adult when I have my own car and a job because I still feel in total shock when in regular scenarios that I’m the adult in the room.
It’s this continuation of ideals and expectations; ‘when I move out I feel like an adult’ to ‘when I get a mortgage I feel like an adult’, to ‘when I own my house I’ll feel like an adult’. Like Keyes’ novel illustrates; you’ll never feel like one, even when you hit these milestones.
You can’t complete life. Even if you check box all of those societal and your own self-expectations, there will still be more to life.
Is just me, or are we are all just winging it and pretending to have it covered so that it feels like some sort of organised chaos instead of uncontrollable?
I put a poll on Twitter and 100% of voters agreed and voted that adulthood is an act.
So are we lying to the younger generations? Or were we all once just so incredibly naive and blissfully unaware?
But this unawareness creates a huge amount of expectations for us when we hit ‘adulthood’.
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…To be alive is to be vulnerable”Grown Ups – by Marian Keyes
When I graduated uni and was jobless for a few months, I felt as though I had failed. I sometimes worry now that I’m not doing as well as I should be because I don’t have my own house.
I have placed so many unrealistic expectations for myself to have completed by the age of 22, and I’ve only recently been letting myself off for not completing them due to this realisation that these expectations were ridiculously outrageous!
“I’ll be fifty and, seriously, what’s the age when a person finally feels safe and secure? Because I really thought it would have happened by now.”Grown Ups – by Marian Keyes
Yet, whilst I was out as a trainer on a Ten Tors training hike (and on that note, this still baffles me that I’m the adult not the child on these walks now), I got onto the conversation of adulthood with the team of 14-year-olds I was with. They said that by the age of 24 they wanted to be in their forever career job, moved out and married with kids. Obviously totally fine if that is their life goal and some adults do manage that, but it really demonstrated to me that these expectations of adulthood are universal from childhood.
I said to them that in less than a year and a half I’ll be 24, I asked if they could see me hitting those milestones in that time. I did enjoy their response, it was something along the lines of; “well you are an adult, you do have a car”.
I’ve been thinking about it since though, even if that was my goal and I worked really hard to achieve the whole career job, mortgage, married, and with kids by 24, that would be incredibly unrealistic still. There is no way I’d have the financial ability to do that even if I saved every penny. Thankfully that is not my goal, but I found it interesting to contemplate the reason why we believe this is possible.
But then our grandparents were often married by the age of 18, was it just a different time then, or was life more affordable then? Do you have to be in a privileged position, or lucky with landing a good job instantly after graduating to even have the option to do so?
I don’t have the answers, but what I do know is that we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves.
We can complete our goals, but we need to stop putting such an unrealistic time expectation on these things and stop thinking we will ever feel as though we have it all together.
If these last two years in a pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that life will keep changing and you can’t assume or expect anything.
By all means, you can work towards things but it won’t always work out in the same way you at first expected. But that isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it could lead to something better than you had ever imagined before.
It’s just that at the end of the day, all we can do is take life day by day and enjoy every moment we can.
Take the pressure off, you’ll get to where you need to be when you need to be there.