Thursday, May 28, 2015

Being a grown up is nothing like the brochure...

Dear younger self. I have news for you, and you're not going to like it. Ready? Here it is. 

Being an adult is nothing like what you think it's going to be.

Yes, you can stay up late, but by the time you hit your forties, sleep is a dear friend, one you're happy to spend time with. Oh sure, you'll occasionally miss your old friends, Wild Times and I Can't Believe I did That. There will be nights you even stay up late and revert to youth-like behaviour, but those times won't come often, and it will take you days to recover. Not hours. Days. And yes, you will start taking naps. I know, you can't believe that day will ever come, but it will. Trust me. 

It's true, you can have cereal for dinner and no one will judge you. You can even eat nothing but ice cream and waffles for a week if you want to. No parent will nag. No one will materialize at your side and hand you a carrot stick. But one day you'll find yourself standing in the chips aisle, reading the nutritional info on the side of that jumbo bag of Doritos, and you'll put the damn thing back on the shelf. Words like, sodium content, MSG, empty carbs, and trans fats will fill your head, and when you get to the till you will find you're big treat of the week isn't a pint of Hagen Daz, but a bowl of fresh blueberries (anti-oxidants) and a container of low-fat, all natural yogurt. 

When you're young, getting a letter or any kind of mail was an adventure. Later on, the mail is nothing more than a reminder that bills are coming due. I stepped into the elevator last night and started sorting through my mail. Two bills, a letter from my financial planner reminding me I need to come in and talk about insurance and retirement planning, and the strata meeting minutes from our annual general meeting earlier in the month. As I stared at this bounty of boring, I was struck with the realization that this was my life now. 

That car you always dreamed of having? The one that went from zero to "holy shit" in less than six seconds and would make you look glamorous and successful just being seen driving it? You're not going to own that car. You're going to end up driving something sensible, with good gas mileage and a turning radius that lets you parallel park like a champ. 

And if you think that just because you became an adult, that means your parents stop trying to parent you? It isn't going to happen. Instead of questions about the last time you brushed your teeth, you'll get queries on when you last had the oil changed in your car. The questions change, but the motivation never will. They're your parents, and they will continue their loving interference into your life until the day they die. Get used to it.

Being in charge of your own life sounds wonderful. You're finally in control, no one else to answer to, your destiny is your own. What it really means is that you have no one else to blame when you make mistakes, and you will make mistakes, lots of them. You will also have to make decisions that will affect the rest of your life, and there are no takebacks. Life is an adventure, but it comes with sleepless nights and a nightstand drawer that includes a bottle of antacids. 

Before you give up hope and go hide in your blanket fort, there's one more thing I need to tell you. It's going to be nothing like you are expected, but it's worth every struggle and challenge.

And give your parents a break about their weird need for naps. In twenty years, you'll understand.