There are too many embroidered pillows floating around this world that offer the following self-important advice: “80% of life is showing up.” As though that’s supposed to comfort me. I’ve been “showing up” since May 17, 1988 when the doctors excavated me from my mother’s womb with a scalpel. TA-DA! There was some applause, plenty of tears, and from that point forward I was — as all humans are — expected. To arrive. To do. To accomplish.
The difference between the expectations of your adult self and younger self is the belief that with maturity comes complacent willingness. That at some point you sit up and stretch your arms and swallow your veggies and get pumped. That you realize, “Adult life’s not so bad! I was just being a kid.” (Because it seems like parents really hate pop music in traffic but boy do they love listening to AM talk radio and surely that has to be an acquired taste.)
Pardon, no. There are plenty of adult things that don’t suck in theory, but are actually terrible. The sooner we stop pretending that we “don’t mind doing X, honestly!” is the sooner we can make peace with those things; just because we hate something doesn’t mean we won’t show up. But at least we’ll know why we’re pissed off. And anyway — of all the team building exercises I know, collective complaining just might be the most bonding.
Theory: Cleanliness is akin to godliness.
Reality: You’re too tired.
Theory: A nice way to treat yourself!
Reality: You can’t use your phone, it’s boring, you never like the color, you always ruin it.
You’re too tired.
Theory: Good hydration solves many problems; is crucial in the quest toward wellness.
Reality: You’re too hungover to lift up the glass; you’d rather be drinking something else; you’re too lazy; you forgot.
Eating the rest of your salad once you’ve eaten all the good stuff up top
Theory: Vegetables are very good for you.
Reality: Without salad dressing, lettuce tastes like tap water/indoor ferns and zucchini tastes like bad breath.
Calling someone back
Theory: If it’s a work call, it’s productive; if it’s a friend call, it’s fun; if it’s a family call, it’s emotionally satiating.
Listening to your voicemails
Theory: You literally just hit a button, sort of listen, then press delete.
Reality: You don’t have time for that prehistoric shit, nor do you to intend to follow up.
Answering that email
Theory: Just read, absorb information, assess situation and reply as though this were an in-person conversation.
Reality: Emails are worse than that paragraph in your history book that you had to re-read at least 100 times to sort of understand but with e-mail, you have no one to lean over and go, “Hey, can I just use your notes?” It is the digital equivalent of herpes.
The final stretch of that long walk your parents made you take with them
Theory: This is nice time to spend together.
Reality: A thousand needles of death are shooting into your shins and you will probably die if you go one step longer.
Theory: You’re being a productive contributor of society and also, you really do need groceries for the week.
Reality: You would rather go without food and medicine than remove your back from the couch. You’re very busy. And you’re too tired.
Theory: Nothing better than fresh clothes straight out of the dryer!
Reality: All washing machines and dryers exist on an alternate plane of reality whereby their physical distance, relative to yours, extends 12 steps further with every step you take in their direction. They are always just so far away.
Going to the gym
Theory: So excellent for your physical and mental health.
Reality: You’re hungry; you just ate; you’re too tired.
Getting anything fixed
Theory: It will feel so good to have that done.
Reality: It can wait.
Returning those jeans you ordered online
Theory: You deserve to wear nice jeans that fit!
Reality: You can’t find the return label; you don’t have tape.
Going to pee
Theory: What a release!
Reality: You (for whatever reason) literally cannot stand up.
Theory: Carpe Diem!!! It is time to seize a new day!
Reality: Ugh. Sucks.
And you’re tired.
Illustrations by Emily Zirimis.