This year marks six complete years of adulting. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it means being a responsible, bills in your name, appointment making adult. At the ripe age of 21, I left my parents' abode for good and began life on my own. The journey began as a graduate student in Durham, NC and eventually landed me across the country in Texas for my first “real” job. I often joke that I went to grad school and then into a leadership development program at work to prolong the time before I was really an adult. Although I was very much on my own, at least my student loans were deferred and I was being guided through my early career. But the deferment eventually went away, the work days became longer, and the reality that I was officially an adult hit me.
To say that I was unprepared for adulting was an understatement. Of course, I knew enough to pay my bills on time, but the small intricacies of being an adult somewhat evaded me. Like, how do I know what health insurance plan to choose? Where do I begin with a budget? What investment mix should I choose? There were so many questions unanswered, yet no pause button to catch up. Over time, with a lot of reading and self eduction, I got the answers to these things, but there were still some life lessons that I knew.
1. Living within your means really means below. I remember opening my job offer letter and thinking, "Man, I can do a lot with this." The reality is, with a lot of direction and discipline I probably could have, but instead I ended up in the paycheck to paycheck trap like so many Americans. If I can pay for it without credit, then it must mean I can afford it. That was my uneducated thinking that had me spending without forethought or discipline, with little in savings, and minimum payments on student loan debt. Looking back six years later, I certainly would have opted for less expensive living arrangements along with picking up a part time job in order to put more money into paying off my debt.
2. No one has it all together. Whether you're entering into the adulthood or not, this statement is true. We live in the era of social media, which influences our perceptions of ourselves and others. Unfortunately, we are often deceived into believing that everyone else has it together-- the nice car, condo, vacations across the world-- and we're behind the ball. Don't be fooled...no one has it all together. I often felt that I must have been doing something wrong early on as an adult, because I wasn't taking vacations and cruises and I certainly wasn't driving a brand new car. Now, looking back, I realized that those very same people who I thought had it all together didn't and still don't...and that's ok. Knowing this gives you the freedom to live life with the assurance that your'e not the only one who doesn't have it figured out. Here's a secret of adulting: We're all just figuring it out as we go along.
3. Student loans don't have to be a part of your life for 30 years. I bought into the myth that I'd forever be paying on my student loans. I believed that the next 30 years of my life would be spent indebted to student loan lenders and that was just reality. Well, if you've been following me for some time, then you know that it's a lie and that I've dispelled that myth (see my blog on it). Had I not accepted that lie early on and had become educated sooner, I would have gotten so much further faster.
4. Friendships won't stay the same. Much like social media, TV and movies make us believe that we'll have the same friends throughout adulthood, you'll have lunch every Tuesday, cocktails on Thursday, and have a girls trip together every summer. I've yet to see that be the reality of any adult. The truth is, you take your own paths in life, have responsibilities that take up your time, and your schedules often don't align. That's reality. There will be friends that you lose along the way and others that you gain. Every relationship that you have will evolve. Embrace it and the people who are in your life at various seasons.
5. Life is what you make it. Very early on in my adulting, I realized that I was falling into a pattern of work, eat, sleep, repeat. Life wasn't fulfilling and it was most certainly passing me by. Upon that realization, I made it my responsibility to find out my purpose in life and to live it out. Through prayer, I did just that and that's why you're reading the blog :) My purpose allows me live life intentionally and not let life happen to me.
Needless to say, overtime I learned all of these things...some more painfully than others. Expect to make mistakes and to be disappointed. Expect to fail and to not have it all figured out. It's all apart of the life of an adult.