I’ll be perfectly honest with you all; I have no idea how to be an adult. Does anyone? Sometimes I wonder if we’re all pretending we know what we’re doing, but inside we’re all just screaming “Why am I allowed to be in charge of my own life? What the hell do I do?”. At least I hope that’s the case, so I’m not alone. Being an adult is tough. I’ve got the basics down, like food shopping and doing my own laundry, but I only learned how a mortgage works and why credit scores matter like a week ago. I have neither by the way – am I supposed to by this age?!
I think that’s partly a generational question though. In the past, by the time you were in your early 20s, you were expected to be married, own a house, have a decent job, and probably a kid or two. But my generation puts a lot of that on hold, putting off children until we’ve established a career, or using our savings for travel and other experiences before buying property. Is this wise? Yes and no, in my opinion. I definitely should start thinking about long-term things, like the benefits of buying property (even if not to live in immediately) or private pension schemes. But I also want to enjoy my youth, and be able to muck around while I still can, before I really do have to be more of an adult. Life expectancy is always on the rise, women are having children later in life with fewer risks, so what’s the rush?
Why do I need to plunge into a career, especially one I don’t love, and get bogged down into it for the next 40-50 years? Why should I be settling into a home that I’ve bought, staying in one place for the rest of my life, when there’s so much more of the world still to see? Why should I dress in business clothes I hate or buying fancy homeware I’ll never use? The long and short of it is, I’m not ready to be a full-blown adult. I’m ready for some of it – independence, my own finances, a job I like as I definitely don’t want to return to education, and I’m not dumb enough to disregard the boring parts of adult life entirely. But I’m still young, I still have time to figure the rest of my life out. I moved to Hong Kong straight out of university, and have now come home after 2 years, having concluded I’m not going to be a teacher. So now what? I still don’t have an answer for that one!
Most of us spend our teen years longing to grow up faster, then spend half our adult lives wishing to be young again. I think we should live in the moment. When I’m older, I’ll probably want a nice house, a family, a job with a good income and all that jazz – although I hope I will always stay young a heart! But right now, I’m 23 and I still want to travel and wear whatever the hell I want and stay out partying and probably make a few more stupid decisions. I’m at that in between age, where I’m an adult, but not a fully-functioning one. The big question, is at what age do you have to grow up now? If my generation isn’t doing it in our early 20s, then when should we? 25? 30? There’s no right or wrong answer here. If you want to start your career or have kids when you’re 20, then do it. If you want to travel the world, and work a dozen different jobs until you find the right one, then do it! You can guess which group I fall into…
My point is, yes I’m an adult, and yes that means I have to deal with some boring adult things, and start building my future. But that doesn’t mean I have to grow up entirely, and settle down immediately right now. Like a lot of people I suspect, I’m still figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life, on both a professional and personal level. So rather than rush into adulthood, then wake up miserable in 20 years time because I made the wrong decisions too fast, I’m going to continue to enjoy my youth, and carry it with me as I do grow older. I’ll keep making mistakes and changing my mind, because that’s the only way I’ll find the things that make me happiest. The fact that the UK job and property markets suck at the moment certainly isn’t helping – I can hardly start a career when no one wants to hire me right now – but that’s kind of ok, since I don’t think I’m ready for that yet anyway.
The world is a different place to what it was 50 or so years ago, and 23 is no longer an age by which we have to our shit together. I don’t know how or when I’ll figure it all out, but I’ll get there eventually (check in again when I’m 30 and see how it’s going, hahaha!). Until then, I’m going to enjoy my youth, and I intend to never fully let it go – who says becoming an adult means growing old and boring? Not a chance!