I remember when I was 20 years old, and my cousin of about 5 at the time said to me, “You’re 20 years old? So you’ll be having a baby soon?” Because that’s the logic of a 5 year old – 20 simply seems like an age where you start popping out kids. 20 is the age of an adult.
Except it’s not. Or it wasn’t in my case at least. I was just one year older and none the wiser, and realised how much more glamourous and grown up it sounded when I was younger. In reality, I was just another wannabe adult, dragging around the baggage from my teenage years and quite comfortably so.
I work with young children. To them, their 25 year old teacher is someone with an entirely different life to their own, someone who is closer in age to their parents and therefore a full grown human being. It’s not so much the very young ones that I’m thinking of as I write this, but more those in their mid-teens. I had a 15 year old girl ask me when I graduated school, and what I have been doing since then, and she looked at me, sighed, and said, “Wow, that is so awesome.” Her expression of what vaguely resembled admiration wasn’t because she thought I had achieved anything special since then and now; I’m convinced that it was simply her, sensing this “adult” future for herself in tangible sight, and also feeling that it was a long way off yet.
The thing is, I think back to when I was 15, and what I thought my life would look like in 10 years time, and I am absolutely sure that my 15 year old self would be disappointed. I had such self-assurance back then, believed strongly in a seemingly straight line towards the bright future that was waiting for me, and I never wavered.
In short, things have not at all gone according to plan, if I can call it that. But thankfully, I am so glad that they haven’t. I’m married, which I didn’t expect myself to be until at least my late 20s. I didn’t exactly go in the career direction I had so determinedly set out to achieve in my teenage years. But while my current professional life is not what I would consider my “end game” situation, it’s also one that I enjoy working for and fullfils me to a certain extent. And of course, I count myself very lucky that E and I are able to face these early adulthood challenges together.
Those are my rambly thoughts about being in my mid-twenties, in a nutshell. And for accountability’s sake, here are a few more things that I thought would happen when I grew up, but shockingly have not:
1. Have a clean and tidy home, all the time.
You know in movies, when a character gets an unexpected visitor and they are welcomed in without so much as a “Sure, count to 30 before you come in so I can shove all the mess in my wardrobe.”? I don’t get it. I thought that when I was a responsible adult, my untidy days will be long gone and my home would be ready for guests come rain or shine. What was I thinking, that a Mary Poppins fairy comes through the post as a reward for getting old?
2. Go to a quiet, sophisticated bar by myself and nurse a martini in a casual-chic dress.
I promise I’ve had an excellent education. I’m not exactly proving that point very well, but this image of a confident woman sitting for a quiet drink after work to collect her thoughts, this was what summed up adulthood for a long time for me. The reality? I come home, get changed into PJs in the blink of an eye, and on occasion have a glass of wine in a water glass (because I’m too short to reach the cupboard with the wine glasses and getting a chair to stand on is way too much work).
3. Have Sunday mornings where we listen to smooth jazz, cook up a delicious brunch, sip tea and read the newspaper. Maybe even the Financial Times. Wearing a silky dressing gown.
Not so much. On the mornings that I am actually up for the challenge to make this a reality, I get very excited and then realise that I am missing core ingredients to make anything brunch-like. So I throw in the towel, have my usual breakfast and go out for lunch. As for the newspaper, E is addicted to the news so I hear about the world’s current affairs through him. After he updates me, I make him watch some silly video on Youtube. Wearing an old t shirt with PJ bottoms.
4. Be a laundry superwoman.
It’s like my brain just refuses to learn. It’s too late to do laundry when you’ve already run out of things to wear. How is that difficult to remember? In our household the chores are fairly evenly shared, except for emptying bins and laundry. E does the bins, I do the laundry. You can guess the delight on E’s face when he’s running around after his shower realising that all his potential attire is crumpled up in the laundry basket. He is very patient with me, lovely as he is, but he is probably close to signing me up for LL meetings (Learning Laundry).
There are many more where those came from, but I’m hoping that I’m not alone.
Please share your own surprising discoveries from your adventures in adulthood.