Why adulting sucks and what you can do about it

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Adulting sucks (Well, that’s an odd way to start an article) but let’s be honest for a moment, it pretty much does.

In my four long years of being a grown-up (as you can see I’m quite experienced in the field), I’ve often had to either give up things I enjoyed doing, suck up to things I inwardly detested engaging in (ergo: heaps of work) or had to suppress my inner child to conform to societal standards.

If you can’t tell already, know that this writeup is a counter-intuitive talk/rant about my adulting woes, and well, I missed literary venting, so here goes:

Adulting sucks (yes, I’m saying it again), and I have been saying (or at least agreeing with) the statement for the past couple of weeks up until the point that it was weighing me down.

It seemed like all my good days were behind me; days of freedom and unperturbed expression were replaced with moments of dread and erratic schedules.

So after having a sit-down talk with me (you know how important it is to consult an expert), I realized I (and many others) acknowledged the ‘‘Adulting sucks’’ mantra when either of three things happened in our lives: we were either currently in a job we didn’t enjoy doing, constantly having to be someone we weren’t or were hit by an out-of-the-blue wave of nostalgia.

So now, I’m going to be pretty much venting by addressing these issues. If your days of being an adult have been dreadful, here’s the crash course on how to scale through:

Adulting Sucks

Reason 1: You’re currently in a job you don’t enjoy

Give yourself permission to be honest with what you need and maybe more what you don’t.

For most people, this is probably the number one reason why ‘‘Adulting sucks’’, and for me, I found it especially true these past few weeks.

I’m not sure why, but at some point, we all go through this phase where it feels like everyone’s doing something, and thanks to the ongoing lockdown, it seems all the more obvious.

People are up and about setting up Zoom meetings, racking up certificates from volunteer work, and you know ‘making the most of their year’. So what do you do? You sign up for any (job or volunteer) opportunity that comes your way and agree to every Tom, Dick, and Harry offer that knocks on your door.

While it feels good in the first moments, recklessly signing up for offers to get yourself ‘busy’ would surely take its toll. This is especially so when you register for several responsibilities without adequately weighing the amount of time, effort, and brain juice required of you (which was the mistake I made over the past weeks, and pretty much the reason for my abrupt break from doing the stuff I actually enjoyed, e.g. writing here).

Don’t get me wrong though, I understand that some individuals subscribe to several responsibilities because of financial constraints and all that, but if it’s at the expense of your quality of life, then I say it might be too expensive.

If you’re currently in a job you believe is weighing you down or you are considering signing up for one, here are a few tips from Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, to take note of:

* Develop a craftsman mindset: In his book, Newport lets us see that there are two primary mindsets to carry in a workplace: The Passion mindset (i.e. what can the world offer me), and The Craftsman mindset (i.e. what can I offer the world). Before signing up for a work opportunity, rather than being so absorbed in all the perks that come with it, take the time to develop what you’d be bringing to the table as well.
* Find intrinsic motivation: Another fluffy thing that comes with The Passion mindset is that it makes you believe there’s just this perfect job out there. One that’s all sunflowers and rainbows, where everyone’s high on joy and gladness if this is the thought process you’ve been carrying then my friend you’re up for disappointment. Rather, bring passion to whatever job it is you’re doing.
* Build career capital: Three things that make a job you love: autonomy (control), mastery, and purpose. To move from one level to the next, you need to scale up career capital. Building any job is going to be hard, so you need to constantly exercise deliberate practice; in the skills you have to offer, in the relations you build, to build a fulfilling career, you need to sit down and be deliberate about it.
* Practise future pacing: Before signing up for a job position, you need to consider whether or not it’s a career where you see yourself in long-term—a place where you can grow. Additionally, rather than practising mindlessly to see what sticks, ask from experienced people i.e. people in positions you envy, what it took to get them where they currently are, and take the time to see whether or not you’d be ready to make those sacrifices in the long run.

In a nutshell, if you’re currently occupying a position you don’t enjoy, before you pull the plug, really ask yourself:

Am I focusing more on what’s in it for me than them?

Do I have inward motivation for this position or was it forced on me by others?

Have I been in this position long enough to have acquired enough career capital to say I don’t enjoy it?

Is this a career I see myself in in the long run?

If most of your answers tend toward negative then, and only then, should you consider transitioning to another line of work?

Adulting Sucks

Reason 2: You have to be someone you’re not

I hate when people say ‘‘Act like an adult’’. Have you seen adults lately? That’s horrible advice.

So you know how there seems to be this construct of being an ‘adult’. Such that when you hear, ‘‘Act like an adult’’ or ‘‘Stop being a child’’, you know it means you were either being playful, emotional or non-conforming.

We hear these words so much to the point that the modern adult becomes a walking robot devoid of life and color. You have to suppress your love for cartoons or act like a ‘big man’ just because it fits societal standards.

But I ask this, why should the number of our years be proportional to the death of our life? (Both in the literal and figurative sense). The world asks us to stand out, yet it does all it can to break our legs before we get the chance.

If the reason adulting sucks for you is that you’re currently having to be someone you’re not, be it by suppressing your talents to make others comfortable or appear a certain way to the public, here’s a gentle reminder that you are crippling you.

Find your space, and if it doesn’t exist yet, create it.

Adulting Sucks

Reason 3: You miss your childhood

Those childhood days we spend wishing if we were adults and those adulthood days we spend wanting to go back to those childhood memories.

One day (or perhaps one night) you will be visited by feelings of nostalgia. You know that tinge you get when you realize how so much has changed as the years went by. That longing for the days when bubbles made your eyes sparkled and naming your new toy was all that mattered.

While we never can get those days back, there’s nothing wrong with reliving them. Keep your inner child alive. Play in the rain, watch your favorite animated series, rekindle that spark that’s crying to burst out.

For today, like all other days, would soon become nothing more than a memory. Make it a grand one.Adulting is what you make it.

All in all, everything sucks at some point — life, adulting, even childhood did, (remember when you weren’t allowed to go on rides because you weren’t tall enough. Well now you’ve sprouted and you’re still complaining).

Unless scientists somehow find a way to reverse the hands of time, we have the rest of our lives to spend as adults (literally).

So instead of spending most of the time balking and hating on your grown-up years. Make the most of these oldie days because, in the very end, adulting is what you make it.

So make it bold, make it bright, and make it beautiful.

Crashcourse In Adulting was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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