• Friday, December 01, 2023
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What they never told you about adulthood


As we celebrated a friend who turned the milestone age, I was sitting at her party enjoying myself.

Specifically, I was looking at the video clips that chronicled each decade of her life. As I looked at it, I mused at how time flies.

I wondered how she suddenly arrived here. I mean, how we all arrived at this age? Where did time go? It doesn’t feel like too long since we all met one another at school.

In those days, she would play the ‘senior to us’ even though she was only a class or two ahead of us in school. Casting my mind back at this short write-up on her, I saw a beautiful picture, a ‘good life’ by all measure. Her social life, spiritual journey, the career path (from my perspective), all look good.

As my friend danced to celebrate the day, I saw a mixture of emotions in her eyes. I saw delight, joy, appreciation in her eyes. And then, I wondered what could be going on in her mind. She could had been thinking: ‘for real? Is this really me?’

That day, I was the ‘unsolicited’ mind reader. I believe she was ruminating on how she got here, on the small things she wishes she had known about becoming an adult, those things that would have made a difference as a secondary, university student.

I could imagine the first lesson life had taught her would have been: enjoy each phase of your life, stop spending time wishing for the next step, enjoy the level you are on. Relish it actually.

It does appear we spent too much of our youth trying to be adults. Trying to show ‘we could do it ourselves,’ even doing vacation jobs to have a taste of adult life. Yet today, Monday blues hit us so hard, we hardly want Sunday to end! I think someone should have warned us – that becoming an adult isn’t a walk in the park, it is tough. Your entire life is built around key decisions. At this stage, whatever decision you take will see you going up or down, wasting or gaining time.

Second lesson would have been, there is a major reality to being an adult. It’s not a stage that can be postponed, even worse, you will never really have formal education for it. There’d never be any man standing.

After graduation, you’re with a manual that says ‘Here’s a tool box of adulthood,’ it contains rules that govern life and existence. Even worse, there was no class or test or paperwork to sign. One day you just realised you’re a person who pays bills. You’re a person who gradually is getting less and less familiar with whatever is going on in pop music. You can now vote, rent a car and get married and have children, and it’s not weird, it’s normal.You have become an adult, and no one told you.

And you don’t fundamentally change as a result of this realisation. You’re the exact same person, except suddenly society has thrust you into the adult category.

Lesson three – make certain not to place less importance on social skills as many people did. True, the good CGPAs get you into the A-list companies fast, but a mixture of networking and socialising skills both get you in and keep you there longer. Professors and deans, and your parents will stress that your grades are important, but we have since seen that as long as they were good at their job, no one in the history of time has ever been fired because of their GPA.

Slowly, one starts to realise that there’s very little connection between whatever people majored in and what they end up doing, (apart from obvious specialised fields like medicine and engineering, and so forth). And I might be wrong, but I’m only going on personal experience.

I think one of the major things about becoming an adult is how children aren’t born with any manuals; how no one ever tells you that that there is a huge difference between their cooing years, toddler and teen years.

Even more shocking is the huge expectation children place on you – the one where you are expected to know everything; I’m talking from the reason we cannot go on a family visit to Antarctica or the collective noun for toads? No one will ever tell you how sobering those moments are. The moments when you do not produce the answer as promptly as they’d like.

I think the biggest lesson for me though – is that one never has everything under control at all times… you never did as a child and you never will as an adult.