When I was a child, I used to think of adults as these all-knowing, totally put-together, completely without-fault beings that had all the answers to everything and knew exactly what they were doing in life. I also thought that when I was older, I would suddenly wake up one day and be one of these adults.
Well, I’m almost 26 years old now (a real-life “adult”) – and I can confirm two things that totally disprove my childhood fancies:
1. Becoming an adult wasn’t sudden. It happened gradually – so gradually, in fact, that it was hard to tell whether it actually happened or not!
2. Adults are NOT these all-knowing, totally put-together, completely without fault beings that have all the answers to everything and know exactly what they’re doing. Nope, not at all.
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I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. I’ve had so many discussions with my other grown-up friends and we all agree on the same thing:
We don’t feel like we live up to our childhood fantasy of what a “real adult” is like.
But that’s just it – it’s all a fantasy! The truth is, being an adult (or “adulting”, as it’s called now), isn’t as rigid and as straightforward of a definition as a lot of us may think it is. In fact, our idea of what a “real adult” is is a total illusion!
But if that’s the case, then why do so many of us still feel the pressure “to have it all together” and “to be a good adult”?
Well, it’s all thanks to some outdated societal expectations that have been imposed on us since we were children. That is, the expectation that life should follow this ONE linear progression:
Go to High School – go to College/University – get a job – earn money – get married – buy a house – have kids – etc, etc…
The thing is: this is just ONE pathway in life! And for many of us, this pathway may be completely unrealistic, unreachable, or just undesirable. But despite this, so many of us tend to judge our worth as an “adult” based on how closely we’ve followed this path.
I’m here to tell you that you need to GET RID of this totally archaic idea of there only being one correct way of going about adulthood. Throw it out the window! You don’t need to “live up to” or “fit into” any one specific definition. We are all completely different, and we are all travelling through the adventure of life on totally different paths. And that’s what makes this world (and all the people in it) so incredibly interesting!
Now that you understand this, I want to help you even further by giving you 15 ways that you can deal with the unrealistic pressures of adulting in a positive way.
The more you do each and every one of these things, the more self-assured you’ll feel that you’re doing the right thing. Because trust me, you are.
Related Article: Top 10 Things to Remember if You’re Struggling with Anxiety
15 Tips to Help You Deal with the Unrealistic Pressures of Being an “Adult”
1. Fuel your passions
‘Life fulfillment’ doesn’t just mean ‘career fulfillment’ – it goes much deeper than that. Do some soul searching to find out what really makes you tick and dedicate more time to doing that. When you make time for your passions, you’re allowing yourself to experience what makes life truly worth living (and if that’s not what being an adult is all about, then I don’t know what the point is!).
2. Question your self-imposed deadlines
Who says you need to get married by age 27 and have your first child at 28? If you feel like you’re always under a time crunch to go through life’s milestones and get onto the next stage of life, then you’re totally going to miss out on the most important part of these things – enjoyment. Relax! Everyone is going at their own pace. There’s no rush – it’s all in your head!
3. Be willing to feel negative emotions
One side effect of the happiness movement is that it has a habit of making us feel guilty if we feel sad or angry. This is problematic, as these are completely natural and necessary emotions. One of the kindest things you can do to yourself is to just allow yourself to feel these things without judgement. Next time you’re having a bad day (or week), don’t beat yourself up about it.
4. Take responsibility for your life
You are powerful, you are capable, and you are in control of your life. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll stop feeling like a victim of the world around you (which is one of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves!). It’s completely within your ability to change your life – all it starts with is your mindset.
5. Stop waiting for other people
This ties into the above point. No one else is going to change your life for you – only you can do that. Your parents can’t, your partner can’t, your best friends can’t. So if you’re waiting around for OTHER people to change, you’re going to be waiting around for a looooong time! Stop looking outward, and start focusing inward.
6. Get clear on your values
Going through life as an adult without being clear on what your values are can make decision-making way more difficult than it needs to be (which is a source of stress for MANY of us!). Spend some time writing down what your core beliefs are – that is, the things that are most important to you in life – and then use them to guide you as you make important decisions throughout life (if you want help figuring out your values, this article is a great place to start!).
7. Relieve your money stress
Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you have to FREAK OUT about investments, mortgages, credit scores, and other financial things. Relaaaax. The best thing you can do now is just to start putting aside and saving a small percentage of your money. Even if you only make $100 a month – put away $5!
Related Article: The One Simple Trick to Becoming Happier
8. Stick to a schedule
Having a routine in place that you follow is an incredible way to get more things done throughout your day – things that you need to do, and things that you WANT to do (this one’s especially important!). By using a schedule to plan out your day, you’ll be able to set aside time to do things that truly energize you so that you can feel more aligned with your true self.
9. Take it one day at a time
Like I said before, everyone is travelling through life at their own unique pace. If going at high speed doesn’t work for you, that’s totally fine (in fact – it’s probably for the better!). Just focus on taking baby steps. Remember: it’s the little things we do every day that will make the biggest difference in the long run.
10. Listen to those around you
One of the biggest mistakes that we can make as adults is to think that we know everything about everything and that OUR opinion is the RIGHT opinion. This way of thinking will just close you off from learning so many things there are to learn from other people! Listen, listen, listen – to everyone and everything. You may be surprised what you learn.
11. Celebrate your success
And I don’t just mean big successes – it’s the small successes that deserve to be celebrated more. Too often, we have these grand expectations and high standards for ourselves and will only feel good when we’ve achieved these things. This is no way to live, as it completely overlooks the importance of the little things in life that make it truly worth living!
12. Learn something new every day
Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Far from it. In fact, learning something new every day (no matter how small!) is one of the best ways to feel more fulfilled as a human being! We’re curious creatures, and we need to constantly fuel that curiosity of ours. Open a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary…there are so many cool things out there just waiting for you to discover!
13. Keep your inner child satisfied
Although adulthood and childhood are two separate stages of life, being mature and being child-like are not opposites. In fact, they work much better when they’re joined together, like a perfectly balanced yin and yang. It’s so important, as adults, that we nurture and take care of our inner child, because it’s this inner child that’s going to help keep us connected and aligned with our true purpose in life.
14. Reflect on how far you’ve come
Just like celebrating small successes is important, so too is looking back on how far you’ve come. When we cross the threshold from childhood into adulthood, we tend to get a little bit of amnesia when it comes to realizing how much we’ve grown. Many of us think, “Oh my god, I’m 25 years old and I have nothing to show for it”, when in reality, you’ve probably grown SO much even in just the past year! Before getting down on yourself, always look back to see how far you’ve actually come – you may be surprised!
15. Focus less on doing and more on being
“Life is just flying by!” – how many of you have thought this before? I’m guessing most of you! Well, it’s not because of some flaw in the time-space continuum – it’s because we’re often so busy doing things in our adult life that we never feel fully in the moment – the calm, still, present moment. Don’t make this mistake forever, because you will regret it someday. Life isn’t just about doing, accomplishing, and achieving –
It’s about being.
The more you can learn to immerse yourself in the present moment, the more at peace you will feel with yourself – the amazing, unique, and totally fine adult that you are!