Not to sound like a deflated meme, but adulthood is exhausting. Now that I’m here on earth as a fully formed adult who pays her taxes, subscribes to a newspaper, and buys baby onesies for her friends, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty boring. The idea that I find life to be a bit tedious and that happiness tends to look a lot more like contentment rather than non-stop joy is not a new personal discovery for me. But still, it can vaguely disappoint.
I could throw caution to the wind and hop on the hedonistic hamster-wheel of chasing perpetual youth, but honestly that sounds exhausting, and kind of expensive. So in the interest of gratitude and thoughtful living and what have you, I am trying not to take adulthood for granted. Today, I have done so in list form. Presenting: a handful of things that make me feel, blissfully, like a full-on adult. Little moments where life turned out exactly as I once thought it would, however small those moments are.
Balancing groceries on my hip as I get my mail out of the mailbox.
This is one of my favorite feel-good moments because it’s built around two things that aren’t particularly pleasant: bills and the constant work of feeding myself. But there’s something about the physical representation of this balancing act that is life just feels so satisfying. I managed to get through my day, go to the grocery store, and now I’m getting my very IMPORTANT and CLASSIFIED mail and presumably going upstairs to cook some soup. There’s not enough time in the day to do everything I feel like I need to do, so when I make it home at 7 p.m. having done 75% of it, and check off not one but two errands, it feels like more than a little victory.
Eating Chinese food straight from the container
I blame Ally McBeal (or any movie with a scene featuring a woman going through a breakup), because eating lo mein out of a paper container still feels like the height of working woman sophistication to me. The grace of giving myself a night to not even get a plate feels like an indulgence. There’s no moral value one way or another on what I’m eating, but something about the image of a woman alone on her couch, watching crap TV, eating takeout from the delivery vessel feels like a deep exhalation.
Standing in the aisle of a drug store comparing two household cleaners
Nothing says I have my shit together quite like taking to time to form opinions on toilet bowl cleaner.
RSVPing ‘No’ to weddings
At this point, I know who I want to show up for, know who will understand that I can’t afford to fly to Hawaii, and know who is just in it for the chip and dip, anyway. Say no, send a gift, feel instantly rich in time and money.
Unceremoniously leaving the gym when I’ve had enough
Some days I go to boot camp and challenge myself to squat deeper than I did the week before. Sometimes I go to yoga and set an intention that is good for my mind and body. Sometimes I just roll into my $10-a-month gym with its ever-present bucket that collects ceiling leaks, half-ass the elliptical for 30 minutes, hop off, and go home. I used to stay for longer doing little bits of things that weren’t really doing anything for me, just so the checkout person at the front didn’t see me leave “early.” Now I peace as soon as whatever closed-captioned episode of Young Sheldon my eyes have been cursed to lay upon has finally ended its reign of terror.
Setting up monthly donations
Giving away a certain amount of money each month makes me pay attention to my budget and put perspective on the financial situation I’m in. The world is shitty right now and instead of freaking out about how little I can do and then doing nothing, I do a small thing once a month that takes up no time and frees me up to figure out how to donate my time and energy elsewhere.
Making soup from scratch
Oh my god, it’s super easy and uses up all the produce in your fridge. I live off of this stuff.
Just waving to someone I know on the train platform in the morning—instead of saying hi and then freaking out about how long we have to ride the train together, even though I enjoy their company, but kind of wanted to read my book and take time to myself before a day full of people asking me for things. Maybe I’ll lie and get off two stops early, or take the Q instead of the B and just walk an extra 15 minutes??
Realizing both of us want to be left alone and giving a brisk head nod as I walk to the other end of the platform is maturity personified.
Being horny for Professor Bhaer instead of Laurie
I firmly believe that one can be horny for fictional characters until the day one dies, but the evolution of the objects of lust is the true tale of maturity. Laurie is for girls, Professor Bhaer is for women.
I want to know your weird adulthood signifiers! Get in them comments, please!
Feature illustration by Molley May.