When I was a kid, I genuinely believed adulthood was some magical point in my life (I had arbitrarily decided 27, because at the time 27 seemed like a really long way off, and surely by then I would be all the things I thought I would become) where some switch flipped and I would stop liking “childish” things (as deemed by my parents) and stop being lazy; I would gladly clean and cook and work and do all the things that I was meant to do, and my hobbies would be staid and calm and easy to handle on a few hours at a time. I’d read more, and I’d write no-nonsense literary things sometimes, and I’d occasionally watch TV. I wouldn’t be interested in surfing the internet; I wouldn’t want to play video games or go shopping or read comics; I would be An Adult and that would be the end of that.
In retrospect, I can look back and tell it was because my parents were — and still are — very practical and no-nonsense people. Mom’s hobbies are gardening and romance novels — which she herself always disclaimed as silly and told me I shouldn’t read (though whether it was because she didn’t want me to read the florid dirty bits or not, I’m not sure); Dad’s are science and math and deep thought (he likes to sit with a beer in His Chair for hours, and even if the TV is running, he’s not really paying attention; he likes the background noise). They were both hard workers when they were part of the 9-6 crowd; they were and are always practical people. We didn’t go on fancy away vacations or even pay much attention to popular culture — my parents both came from poor backgrounds and were determined to make a better life for themselves and for me here in the US. Dad liked to say, when I was in college, that my graduation present wouldn’t be a new car (which I never asked for) or anything like that, it would be to be debt-free.
(Even then, I thought that was the far better present. In some ways I am very much my parents’ daughter.)
My friends’ parents were always more relaxed, and honestly, my parents had their vices that didn’t really fit with my idea of Adulthood, but that didn’t really change my impression that someday, someday, I’d become a responsible person who would do her chores and keep her room clean and not waste hours on the computer doing absolutely nothing of any real worth. I held onto that idea through college, because that was my first real test and taste of the real idea of Adulthood — I had chosen to go to the University of Washington in Seattle, which was a far cry from my childhood home in Austin, Texas. I wouldn’t be able to just call my parents up and have them show up to help me if I needed it (like the horror stories I’d heard about people who’d let themselves go once they were in college) — they’d help me, of course, if I needed it, but in the every day stuff, I would be on my own. My half of my dorm room started out neat, but slowly became more and more of a disaster area — I’m lucky I had roommates that were either tolerant of me, not around very often, or friends who just made fun of it (affectionately, I’m sure, but there’s a grain of truth in the fact that I am a tremendous slob). And I still continued to think that someday I would be an Adult and then I’d take care of everything properly and on time. No procrastinating until the last day to do things; no being lazy until I was panicking for being behind.
I graduated still thinking this, living in a rented house with four friends and working my Real Adult Job! with my room still a minor disaster area and grumbling in my heart about doing the dishes and how much I missed a proper dishwasher. (At one point I even caught myself hesitating over a pair of CDs I wanted and realizing, to my bemused horror, that I was waiting to ask my parents for permission, as if it was still money that I had received from them, to be subject to their approval or otherwise.) I moved out of that house and into an apartment with a friend from college and it was more of the same, especially with the dishes. I moved into an apartment by myself and all that having a room to myself meant was that my stuff had even more space to spread out all over. I got a cat and I was better about keeping his litterbox cleaned than my bedroom. I bought a condo (with help and advice from my parents — most of the down payment money came out of an account that they had set up for me at birth, and which was handed over to me when I turned 21, but they did gift me money to help with it) and I have a significant other and roommates who pay me rent. I still have the cat.
I still have the vaguely disastrous mess all over the place, and the kneejerk protest in my heart when I have to do dishes or take out the trash and recycling; I spent most of today out at the University Street Fair (love it! ♥) and then playing a silly farming game. I haven’t done my daily writing — and honestly, most of the time, my daily writing happens in the last hour before I have to shower and get ready for bed (which is usually later than it should be). I’m proud of myself for managing to keep my kitchen sink empty and (relatively) clean for about a week and a half now. I’m almost thirty and I still play video games and read comics and write genre-focused stuff (no fancy literature for me, it seems) and sometimes I spend an entire weekend doing nothing of worth. There are weeks where we eat or order out over 50% of the time. That magic switch I imagined in my childhood is apparently an entire lie.
On the other hand, I have a full-time job with benefits, which is a pretty amazing thing in this day and age — one that I enjoy with decent pay and managers I respect and trust — I have a mortgage, I have a significant other, I bought a brand-new washer and dryer the other year when the old ones died. My cat is fat and happy and healthy. I’m fat and happy and healthy. I’m writing regularly and managing to finish things, even if that’s at a slow pace, and even if I am just one of hundreds of thousands (of millions?) of people who are dabbling in the ebook self-pub market.
It’d still be nice if I could get the gumption to do my cleaning without a lot of internal whining and procrastinating, but as far as Adulthood goes, I like what I ended up with a lot better than what I imagined all those years ago.