One of the fun things about returning back to school has been that apparently I’ve become one of those sneaky old people. After talking with me, people start to realize that I’m on the older end of the spectrum for grad students — however, most people put me at 26-28 at most. My cousin had a similar problem as she finished up her degree; we chalked it up to good genes, though maybe a lot had to do with my mild lifestyle? No smoking, barely drinking. Regardless, I’ve been able to blend in a bit better than I thought with my much younger academic colleagues.
As I look at the differences between us, see some of the different places we are in our lives, I realized there a good deal they don’t tell you about getting older. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve figured out:
» You seem to worry less, or at least, your worries get new focuses and you have better ownership over what fucks you give. Now, this does affect everyone differently because anxiety and depression are real things and will never just magically disappear even as you settle into adulthood. But I’ve found that I’m definitely not stressed about the same things and it seems like all that drama from my younger life just doesn’t have a hold over me.
» You do need friends your own age. This is nothing against my new college friends, however, our life experiences are just different. I’ve had 8 years out, worked on my career, and was more or less a self-sufficient mostly-functioning adult. And though yes, I’m back in school again and making a big career change, I’ve got that maturity established. I’ve kind of missed having other adults as friends. Right now that’s really only being filled by my online friends. Eventually I’ll figure out how to connect with other adults here in the area, if you know, I figure out where to find them.
» “Adult” does not mean old and boring. This should be pretty obvious. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to give up all your “youthful” loves. I’m what you describe as a “grown-ass woman” and I still love comics and video games — and I have that love proudly displayed around my home.
» Unless you get a kickass, well-paying job, the easiest way to set up an “adult” home is slowly, piece by piece. Heck, even if you do have a kickass, well-paying job, probably better budget-wise to do it a little more piecemeal anyway. Things I’ve found that help make a home feel more adult: framed pictures or art on the walls, and curtains. Posters up on the wall kind of has that dorm room feel, but you put things in frames? It’s art then. Curtains help make spaces feel less temporary. I’ve also found that I’m slowly replacing all my IKEA stuff with inherited pieces. Or, ok, I’m getting rid of the cheap looking IKEA stuff — you know what I mean, all my LACK stuff. Their furniture is great, especially when you’re in that transitional phase into adulthood. But it’s nice to slowly level up into the higher quality pieces. (Which, IKEA does carry.)
» Your body will go through another shift when you get in your 30s. Maybe it’s a metabolism shift or whatever, but you kind of don’t bounce back like you used to. Also, weight loss is definitely different as you get older — which, I actually did learn from my mom.
» Ladies: you will pee a little when you sneeze or cough hard. No one, absolutely no one told me this until after it started happening. It’s not an every time sort of thing, but it does indeed happen. When I talk to women older than myself about it, they just laugh and say that’s what liners are for! Ugh. (Apparently this happens when you’re pregnant, too…) Just, you know, be aware that this happens.
» Also Ladies: there is no cut-off age for shopping in the junior’s section… however, there is a slow shift in how others see you there. We’ve all seen that woman who just seems a bit too old to be rocking the juniors tops and jeans… even if they fit. Those looks you get from other shoppers (mainly the actual teenagers) start slowly. Now. You do you and shop wherever you like… but I’ve found my best bet is hitting all the areas: juniors, misses, and women. Thankfully at places like Target, they just really blend in to each other. Or hitting stores that don’t really break it down like that, and are subsequently more adult than not: like H&M or even Old Navy. (I miss H&M. Maybe it’s time for a trip to Indy.)
» The big one: There is no one right way to be an adult. It’s easy to compare other people’s journeys — I’m guilty of it! — but their path is not your path.
There’s probably even more that I’m missing. But some of these things it’s just nice to have a heads up on. What are some of the untold lessons you’ve learned about becoming an adult? What do you wish they would have told you?