I'm A Super Adult And Sometimes It Super Sucks
Nothing about my current life has happened by chance. After surviving the Great Recession, my husband and I had only one goal. Catch up on lost time. Or what we perceived as lost time. Looking back, we felt constrained by an imaginary clock that doesn’t exist. A self-inflicted timeline of events that needed to happen in a certain order to confirm we were responsible and reasonable.
My life at a glance in the last five years:
2014 – planned and paid for wedding
2015 – purchased and paid for my first car
2016 – welcomed our first child
2017 – purchased our first home
2018 – welcomed our second child
It has been nonstop planning an executing of very specific milestones. You know, building our life. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great things to have accomplished. My life reads amazing on paper. Like a checklist or “how to guide” in Adult 101. What you don’t see between these achievements is all the trips we missed, all the sandwiches consumed, the sacrifice of anything that could be considered a luxury and the deprivation that comes with making saving your number one priority. When we do spend it is rarely on ourselves and always accompanied with a certain amount of guilt. That anniversary gift could have been used toward our down payment or this birthday present is the same amount as my student loan bill for a month. Nothing happens without months, or years, of foresight and consideration. It is as exhausting as it is effective, and this is the only way our life works.
It works. Despite how claustrophobic as it may sound, our narrow and restrictive approach to life was a deliberate choice we made together because we knew it would work for us. Although I am happy with my life, I cannot help but wonder what it would look like if we weren't prototype adults. You know what I have noticed in the last few years? Most of my friends do not live as I do. They aren’t all married, they don’t all have kids, they don’t all have homes or reasonably priced cars. They are adults on a different wave length. A next level adulthood that I didn’t see growing up. A form of adulting that I didn’t even know existed until I was convinced my version of being a grownup was the only way. An adult life that includes lavish vacations, changing jobs until they find one they like, rejecting the settle in settle down, becoming Fur-Parents and setting no specific time frame in which the traditional “next step” needs to happen. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want anything traditional, they just know they have options in how and when it happens. They are making their own steps, paths, guides and decisions based on what makes them happiest. Prioritizing themselves, building themselves and loving themselves more than they need to adhere to any expectations is the new adulting to the max.
There is something brave and admirable about making your own lane and rejecting the old way of things. Bucking tradition seems to be the new standard of life for people of my generation. And I am here for it, at a distance. In the end, I can’t deny the person that I am and what I need, even if it means embracing a dying lifestyle that feels more alienating than inclusive every day. I don’t regret anything about our lifestyle. I have always wanted to be a wife and mother. Regardless of how archaic and eye roll inducing as it may sound, those are the two spaces in life I was made to occupy. I just question the rapid pace in which we assumed we needed to get it done. I question how our need for financial security, or honestly my fear of financial ruin, has pushed us faster than we otherwise may have gone. Did being iced out of the job market straight out of college, being unemployed and broke way longer than either of us ever imagined make us so dedicated to overcoming that experience that we’re spending the rest of our lives toiling to ensure we would never be in that position again regardless of the expense? Did our goals get clouded or overshadowed along the way, or are we exactly where we want to be? Could we have taken just one extra year to be newlyweds before we became parents? Or used that one year to focus on passion projects that we now must try to integrate into an already hectic life? Should be have waited a little longer for baby two? Or did we do it all as we should? On an accelerated timeline because that’s how it was meant to be not because that’s how we felt it had to be.
Maybe I’m just in my feelings because my best friend’s new Audi is my garage for safe keeping while she is traveling in Thailand. Meanwhile my husband’s seventeen-year-old car is in the driveway because, according to our schedule, his next car can’t be purchased until the end of the year and the closest I’m getting to Phuket is eating some Pad Thai. Yes, every success comes with a dose of disappointment that although I have it all, I couldn’t have it all. Because even good decisions have consequences. Every satisfied smile comes at the expense of an unknown, not experienced smile we did not plan for. No matter how well we adult, me and my husband are not adulting “Goals”. We are nonstop grinding. We are experts on giving things up now it hopes we will get to have them later. We are delayed gratification. We are guessing that it’ll all be worth it in the end. We are grateful to be with a partner that understands that we are more like our grandparents than we ever imagined. We are good at adulting in the most literal sense. I guess, for us, that is enough.