For a long time I’ve had this notion of Adulthood as a destination. Once I’ve completed the trials and tasks of childhood, then “tick” I would be an adult. I think it’s a misconception common in many people.

It’s at least part of the reason I felt so adrift when I came out of college. After all, I’d gotten my degree, gotten a job, within a year I was engaged to be married and buying a house. I was on the fast track to adulting – and drinking more than enough alcohol to prove the point.

Thankfully some skittish horse part in side of me recognised the check-boxing of my life all the way to somewhere I didn’t want to be. I pulled out of the wedding, found a job in another country and moved away. Unfortunately the reaction was as strong as the action that prompted it, and the vacuum I found myself in prompted huge psychological crisis, before and after I left. I’ve already spoken about the before. And I’ve mentioned a little about the after too. I know I’ll revisit both of those topics again in the future, but I don’t feel like swimming in the murky waters of unhappy memories this morning.

When I woke up this morning, there was an article that the Washington Post was prompting me to read about The Adult Life Skills You Need Before You GraduateWhile skimming it, I found myself wondering how many of these skills I have, as I approach what some might call middle age (I’ve decided that  doesn’t start ’til 50, and when I get to 50 I’ll revise that again). And if I were to make a list of the life skills that I feel I aspire to as an adult, what would they be? I’m going to use the same categories as the Washington Post does.

Relationships

  • Life is all about relationships. You may feel too busy or tired for meeting up with friends or family. It’s worth pushing yourself to do it anyway.
  • Schedule meet-ups with old friends.
  • Read this Wait But Why Article on Adult Friendships.

Work

  • Find a job that you enjoy something about every day.
  • All work is boring  –  even if you work at your favourite hobby, the fact of having to do it day in and day out will make you resent it.
  • Work is there to facilitate the life you want to have. Don’t let it become your life.
  • Every job will have things in it that make you feel like you should “do more”. Do enough, and then get to your life.
  • But doing “enough” doesn’t mean doing a slap-dash job. Sometimes you will have to stay later than you wanted. Just don’t do that every day.
  • Visibility and Responsibility: See things that need doing. Take responsibility for doing them or getting them done.
  • Perfect is the enemy of done.

Money

  • You need money to survive. Don’t spend more than you’re making.
  • You’ll need money when you’re old, so make a plan for that.
  • Insure the things that are important to you: House, car, pets, life.
  • If you have children, you should get life insurance.
  • Save regularly rather than large amounts.
  • Borrow and pay off loans to establish healthy credit.
  • But then – pay off debt as a priority – it costs you more than saving gains you.

Fashion

  • Dressing neatly is part of a social contract. It shows respect to those you interact with.

Health

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Get the right amount of balanced food.
  • But don’t push yourself to the point of injury.
  • Meditate.
  • Talk about what’s bothering you; with a therapist, a friend, a diary, whatever.
  • There is no benefit to smoking and drinking – their glamour is all an illusion.
  • Health Insurance is worth the money (In this country).
  • If you’re worried about something, get it checked out. The stress of worrying about it is unhealthy anyway.
  • Have a full fasting blood panel done every year.

Food

  • It’s important to eat regularly. Small meals often are a better way to go.
  • Diets are stupid and make you obsessed with food.
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
  • Have a list of meals that are healthful, but also really quick to prepare for days when you’re busy and tired.
  • It’s okay to eat the same thing for multiple days in a row, but it might make you feel bored with that meal. Maybe better to have two meals prepped in advance that you alternate for a few days.
  • Eat fibre.
  • Too many animal products in your diet are bad for you and bad for the environment.
  • Limit processed foods and sugar.
  • You can’t live on coffee. And it’s a stomach irritant.

Home

  • It’s important to have one, but you don’t have to buy one.
  • Live on your own at least once.
  • Living with people is great if you are essentially like family with those people. Otherwise tensions will muck things up.
  • Housework is a bottomless chasm and while a clean environment is good, it’s best to do the minimum amount and leave space for other stuff in your life. Housework is sand to fit in the cracks of your life.
  • Put up pictures: Photos of friends and family, and some goddamned art as well.
  • Don’t become “trapped” by stuff and location. It’s okay to throw things out, it’s okay to move. (Personally, I should throw way more stuff out.)

So … my first listicle! There’s obviously so much more to write on this stuff. Being an adult is a spectrum though, and it’s more about how you live your life than what age you are. I don’t follow all of my own advice on this list, but I’m slowly starting to move in that direction.

If you are reading this, anonymous world – is there anything that you’d consider crucial (or even just advisable) for adult living that you’d add to this?

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