I'm at the age now where I feel like I should've reached the level of full adulthood. Being an adult means a lot of things: being responsible, taking care of yourself, and financially discovering your footing. I often find myself asking, Where am I in the story of my life?
Certainly, chronologically, I'm at a time when I should be responsible, and all of those other things that come along with growing up. So while I was outlining this column, I said to myself, "Betina (that's what I call myself in my head), who are you? And why haven't you gotten your shit together already?" It took a lot of soul-searching, a lot of pinot, and a lot of binging-watching Saved by the Bell on Netflix, but I realized something.
I realized that there really is no set code on how to be an adult.
There's no instruction booklet, no manual. We're all basically just winging it as we go along. And you know, my way might not be the "proper" way, or the "politically correct" way, or the "psychologically healthy" way…but it's my way. And it works for me. So then I said to myself, "Betina, I bet your words could reach those poor unsuspecting bastards closing in on adulthood. You're should write that down."
And so I did.
1. Paying Your Bills is Expensive
Perhaps my least favorite part of being an adult is having to pay bills. You finally understand what it was that your dad was yelling about every time you left the door open, while the air conditioner was running, and the fact that he wasn't trying to cool the whole goddamn neighborhood. Cold air is expensive. So is water and heat and being able to cook a Hot Pocket in the microwave. That all costs money.
Stealing packs of Certs from your local Walgreens is now an offense that your parents can't bail you out of.I, personally, would've liked more of a warning when it came to paying bills. Like maybe I should've started paying the energy bill when I got my first job. Or the rent once I became a teen. I didn't know that all of this shit costs money and frankly, I think it was a little irresponsible of my parents to allow me to think otherwise.
These days I have a little ritual I like to call "Bill Pay Tuesday." It's really not as exciting as it seems. Basically I get drunk and cover my dart board in all of my bills, close my eyes, and throw a dart. Whichever bill it lands on, that's the bill that gets paid that month. It works well for me, but for some reason MasterCard seems to have a problem with it.
2. Eating Right is Entirely Up to You
When you become an adult, you're supposed to have healthier habits. You have no one to monitor you, so you can pretty much eat whatever you want. That's the double-edged sword of adulthood: you can have whatever the hell you want, but you have to pay for it. And of course there's always the obesity factor that you have to keep in mind when it comes to food. Apparently it's some sort of epidemic.
I, myself, have the diet of a small child. When I go to the grocery, it looks like a 12-year old was given a credit card and told to go shop. Lucky Charms, donuts, peanut butter, chocolate, anything that can be microwaved, and always always ice cream. Also, any sort of alcohol that comes in a box.
I've already accepted the fact that I'm going to develop type 2 diabetes at some point, but I choose to go down in a blaze of glory. A Hershey chocolate-covered, delicous candy-coated blaze of glory.
Whatever, I'm an adult. I can eat whatever I want.
3. Having a Real Adult Relationship is Work
As you grow up, you begin to realize that relationships are more than just getting drunk at a party and then humping like rabbits afterwards. Relationships are about compromise, give and take, supporting each other for better or worse. You challenge each other constantly, and motivate each other every day. You work to make it work, because that's the hardest part of being in a relationship.
But then you get cheated on and you realize people just plain suck. And then you spend a couple of drunk nights on Match.com and realize everyone else is just as fucked up as you. And it's not about compromise anymore, it's about finding the person who can handle your bullshit and vice versa.
You also understand that men come and go, but friends last forever. So naturally you begin planning your Golden Girlesque future, which includes casual sex and a lot of cheesecake. Because you can't spell "loneliness" without "carbs." (You also can't spell "loneliness" with several glasses of wine, but that's what editors are for.)
4. Drinking Every Night is Impossible
Hahahahahaha….just joking. Stock yourself up on alcohol because as soon as you realize what it truly means to be an adult, you're going to drink a lot of it. You have to pay for cable, and you're expected to eat kale and pretend to enjoy it (I KNOW YOU DON'T LIKE KALE, YOU ASSHOLES). The word "responsibility" has never held as much weight as it does when you become an adult.
You're now held legally liable for a bunch of things. When you run around in your underwear, it's now considered public indecency. Stealing packs of Certs from your local Walgreens is now an offense that your parents can't bail you out of. If you don't make your car payments, they'll take your car. Like, really take it. Like you won't be able to sneak into your parents' room while they're at work and find it hidden in that secret spot in the back of their closest that they think you don't know about.
Over the years, you become hardened by the experience of life. That innocence you held as a child, that you continued to hold through college? Well, that's over now. Welcome to the rest of your life. You will be shit on every single day from here on out.
And that's why the alcohol is so important.
Once you step out into the real world, a very harsh reality sets in. There are certain expectations placed upon you, certain responsibilities you now have…the majority of which will crush your spirit to its very core and make you question everything you once believed in. If I seem bitter and resentful of the world in my adulthood, it's because I am. Fortunately, however, I have the money and am of the age that I can purchase all of the wine and Little Debbies that I want.
I did take something away from this, though: there is no right or wrong way to adult. Because you know what? We all die in the end anyway, and why should we have to go through that all alone? Or sober? Or have kale as our last meal?
Adult as best you can, and let the authorities take care of the rest.