Codie Leiker adult sad

I've been out of college for three years now, but with all my heavy drinking and lack of ambition you wouldn't know it. I didn't necessarily consider myself an adult when I walked onto that college campus, though I was far from a child. I probably didn't feel totally adult-like because I got my start at the community college level which felt more like the typical high school experience than, say, the super cool, highly intellectual, four-year university experience a la Van Wilder. I eventually made it to that campus, but it was so not Van Wilder.

One consistent thing I have noticed that would perfectly sum up those moments, and paraphrase my life for intrigued strangers, is that I am a late bloomer. You could also accurately label me a procrastinator or a lazy person, but a late bloomer has a more pleasant tone behind it, and surely a slick phrasing whenever my parents feel the need to lie about me to familiar faces in grocery store checkout lines. Not that my parents are completely embarrassed by my current life decision-making as I do impress them occasionally. Just recently I shared my plan for utilizing the free holiday cab rides home by faking my address several times, all homes conveniently located within a block of my favorite dives. "At least she doesn't drink and drive," they'd proudly say to their esteemed acquaintances.

I have found deals at bars during the week that allow me to drink heartily and afford more in my pantry than cans of olives and boxes of rice. So it's no surprise that adulthood has slowly crept up on me and where I've noticed old friends and classmates unlocking those big life achievements, I can hardly visualize myself meeting any of those standards within the next few years. It's quite possible I'm just plain immature, but it's also possible that I consider remembering to pay my car's registration one giant step forward into adulthood, and I'm all about the small victories.

I think somewhere along the way, college counselors, and perhaps parents, are supposed to set up those super important guidelines for achieving adulthood that you, adult-in-training, can look to in times of need. I hardly met with my college counselor and I probably just forgot to write down all the advice my parents threw my way during those imperative years. But, again, I'm a late bloomer. So I've compiled a list, a guideline for all late bloomers, which I assume is the readership of PIC.

1. Priorities

This is probably my biggest obstacle. Everything from grocery shopping to boozing has its place. For example, I have found deals at bars during the week that allow me to drink heartily and afford more in my pantry than cans of olives and boxes of rice. And with more nutritional sustenance easing my crying belly, my mother is less inclined to fist her ham sandwich in my mouth.

2. Chores

Growing up, I was never one for maintaining a clean space, but things change when you live on your own or with disgusting roommates. Suddenly you find yourself washing the dishes because you want to. And maintaining an active chore regimen can also help you conquer that priorities obstacle. For example, I'm an impulsive shopper, a total sucker for cute sweaters and jeans and skirts and jewelry. And because I never fold my clean laundry, my closet and dresser drawers always appear empty, just begging for something new and fun to fill them. So, I tried this new mantra and it sometimes works: Fold your laundry, idiot. Sure you could buy that awesome black bra with the cheetah print… or you could just fold the other 47 you own and put that money toward your Alaska trip.

3. Goals

It's good to have goals, even small ones. Achieving goals builds self-esteem and paves the way for bigger goals to be set and met. For example, find a friend (or make one you crazy loner—goal one achieved right there!) and set up the semi-achievable goal of eating tacos every night of the week at a different bar. Once that goal is met, you'll be paying bills on time and climbing Everest by the end of the year.

4. Donations

No, I'm not talking about pretending to be a bum and asking fancy suit guys for booze money. It's Christmas, fools, so we all know what that means: that annoyed, sinking feeling whenever you see a red bucket and a person with a bell standing next to it. I just wanted some quiet time in Walgreens, trying to find those pills that cure my bladder infection before realizing I've been standing way too long in the anti-diarrhea section, and I'm stopped by that grinning do-gooder with his hellos and bless yous. I have to pee every 20 minutes and this dickhead wants my hard-earned money for poor people. So, with my head down, I stuff a few bucks into that bucket and rush inside to find those damn pills, and my cold, dead heart begins pumping blood. Not only have I taken a step forward in Adult Land, but I've also stopped being a zombie.

5. Advice

This is probably the easiest and my favorite. Some philosophers or annoying liberals will tell you that it is our duty to look out for the next generation, to not only pave the way for their easier lives, but to also hold their hands every step of the way. My contribution to that notion is to find eager strangers who enjoy horrifyingly stupid stories. Like that time I had my car towed after it suddenly died on the side of a highway and I paid $140 to have a guy tell me that I just needed to put gas in it. Or that time I asked my dad to put batteries in my compass because, according to expert me, it wasn't working. And don't forget that time I picked up an old lady asking for a ride home on a cold winter's night, only to drive her all over Omaha and find out she was a hooker. Sometimes people will benefit from my stories. Sometimes they'll just call me an idiot. Eventually I'll learn how to be an adult. Maybe.