The older I get, the more I realize what a swindle adulthood is. As a child (and even young adult) I thought adults are supposed to live the high life because naturally life could only get better with fewer restrictions and more privileges.
And then I became an adult.
And shit got real.
The never-ending bills are annoying. The paycheck that seems far too small to compenstate your education/training but must be stretched to cover basic living expenses, allow a splurge once or twice a month on things that make you happy (mani, pedi, happy hour), and maybe, just maybe, be used to “save for retirement.” Saving for retirement actually requires you to do this on your own because your employer doesn’t consider your position (yeah, the one you needed a PhD to get) eligible for a 401k match. Doing all that AND trying to save for a house, a commitment ceremony celebration (just feeding and housing people for a few hours costs an unbelievable amount of dollars), future child(ren)’s college fund(s) (if you even procreate, because, let’s be honest, your 30+ year old ovaries are shriveling up with each passing day), or a trip around the world.
Now, you could pay for all of these things on credit, but then that just ups your debt and lowers your credit score. And those things make it increasingly more difficult to do things “right” as an adult. The very idea of owing some one or something and having to pay them for the rest of your life, leaving you only debt to pass on to your children (if you have them) seems to be a twisted version of the American Dream. But, it’s many people’s reality. And it’s a huge burden to carry and always have to consider. It causes stress, and stress has all sorts of consequences to your mental and physical health. Bleh.
Financial worries aside, there are other life things that happen that you’re trying to balance, maintain, build, or move past. Career, family, friendships, personal development – all things that require time, effort, resources, and management. “They” say you can’t have it all, and you don’t realize how true this is, or at the very least how true it seems, until you’re flailing your arms trying to juggle all the things you [think] you want without dropping the ball(s).
And all the while the questions, the doubt, the uncertainty is flooding your mind. Is it supposed to be this difficult? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be doing things differently? Am I spending enough time with/on ___? Have I given my best? Is my best good enough? Is it time to let this dream go? Do I really know what I want? Is what I want right for me? Do I need a change in game plan? Will it get better? Do I wait? Do I move? Did I make the wrong decision? Am I where I should be? What should I do next? Bleh.
All of this internal clutter and clamor is clogging your ability to be the carefree and high functioning adult you thought you would be. You don’t even know how to define how you feel because you feel ALL of the things – good, bad, or ugly.
It’s documented all over this blog the worries and concerns I have dealt with over the years and continue to struggle with even as I type. It’s like I’m always in a state of transition and I can’t tell whether or not I’m on the right track or how and when I’m supposed to make my next move in life. How can I be happy and fulfilled when most of the time I feel like shit? I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Or… maybe it’s just me.
Sometimes I deal with stresses and challenges better than other times. I’m still figuring out how to take control of me and empower myself to handle whatever comes my way. It’s not always easy, Lord knows. But I’m being more intentional about it and I feel like I’m on the right track.
In a recent interview with Attitude, a British gay lifestyle magazine, RuPaul1 – gave some very sage advice about personal ownership and responsibility.
If you feel unhappy, do something about it! And usually, doing something about it has nothing to do with anyone else. It has to do with you changing your mind. A miracle is a change in your perception.
If you feel unhappy, do something about it! That is a good word, Mama Ru!
While it’s a simple concept, I find it really quite profound. And it’s not to say there won’t be moments where everything will be great and amazing and you can be happy at the snap of your own fingers. But I do think there is something to be said about one’s own willingness to take action and choose to be happy, choose to be positive. The more I get into meditation and mindfulness techniques, the more I am reminded how much my attitude and my perception are completely in my control. And when I make the effort to say “I’m going to have a good day,” I have a good damn day. People and situations might still annoy me, I may fail at some task, something really bad might happen – but there’s nothing I can do about those external factors that will always be there. I can control how I react, I can control how I deal with it. And if there’s ever a time I can’t do it on my own, I need to make sure I get help.
I’ll be the first to admit it is NOT easy or comfortable for me to do this. It takes my intentional practice of changing my perception, changing my attitude, every single day. And I don’t always succeed but every day is a new day to do better and be better.
1 I love RuPaul!! I’m slightly obsessed with him. I plan to document my love of RuPaul, his Drag Race show, and his podcast. Coming soon to a blog post near you…