Inspired by my niece Chloe’s 18th birthday today. (That’s her in the denim shirt.) Happy birthday, my little sweetheart. I love you to the moon and back.
1. Unfortunately, there is no official “Rules of Adulting” book.
Everything that you should and shouldn’t do has already been tied up in a little bow and stuck in your brain. It’s kind of like when someone just throws you into the pool and you’ve got to swim or sink. Just go, do what you know, and keep swimming. When in doubt, follow your instincts.
2. You’re not alone.
Luckily, there are others who have done this whole, “I’m an adult now?” thing and we remember what it was like to not quite know what we’re doing. Ask questions. Reach out. No judgement.
3. You are alone.
Since you’re an adult now, it behooves you to not blame anyone for your childhood. (This was a tough one for me. I wanted to blame my Mom for everything that had ever gone wrong in my life.) But, that gets you no where. As you’ll see from here on out, the people who are victims remain in the same role throughout their adulthood. Feel your feelings and move on. There’s so much more life to be lived.
4. Start paying for things yourself.
You are responsible for you now. That means your car insurance, your health insurance, your tuition, your life.
5. Pay your bills on time.
You’re 18 and you’ll soon have a credit card. (Maybe?) When I was 18, the credit card companies would wait outside of our college dining hall and they’d give us a free shirts if we signed up for a card. Um, I got a few free shirts… then, I started charging… everything. Books. $79 cent tacos at Taco Bell…. then the bills started rolling in. And, um… whoa. I wanted to give back the free t-shirt.
Pay.The.Bills. THE ONE THING you need in life, aside from good health, is good credit. Bad credit gets you no where. As in, living in a cardboard box. (Yes, a box.)
6. Save your money.
See above. Credit cards seem so easy. I mean, ya’ll grew up in the time of plastic cards. Pay your credit card bill in full every.single.month. If you see that you’re spending more money than you make…. then stop spending so much money and start making more. AND SAVE.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others.
At 18, this is when everyone starts going their own ways and it’s easy to look at where people are and wonder if you should be doing what they’re doing… It’s easy to do this when you’re 38, too. You’re path is native to you. Comparison is always the thief of joy.
8. It’s who you know.
Networking is so important. “Networking”? Yep. Cultivate meaningful relationships. Always. And not one-sided relationships, either. It must be mutually beneficial.
9. Ditch toxic relationships and people.
Life is too short to hang with jerks. You’ve got someone in your life causing grief and spreading drama? Move.along. No one has time for that.
10. Start a gratitude journal.
Like a real journal, with a pen or pencil. Write in it everyday.
11. When people show you who they are, believe them.
Always choose optimism, but be realistic, too. Jerks are jerks. They don’t change. Ever. You can never, ever change someone else. Ever. In a million years. Don’t ever marry or date anyone assuming that they’ll change.
12. Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t feel like doing.
This is an easy one. NO ONE wants to work. NO ONE wants to go the extra mile all of the time. But, you will be rewarded in life if you do the right thing. There’s nothing better than feeling content and cool with who you are.
13. Be wary of shortcuts, but be smart and productive.
If it seems to good to be true, it is. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again and it’s not working — in life, in relationships — stop. Change up your routine to get a different result.
14. Never date someone who takes longer to get ready than you do.
Who has time for that? And know that your value NEVER comes from what you own, what you look like, what you do or where you live. Your value is innate and you matter.
15. Hold the door for others and smile.
Everyone needs a little kindness in their life.
16. Live alone.
I regret this. I never lived alone. At one time in your life, live alone. Be self-sufficient. Find you.
17. Never re-heat fish in the microwave.
For obvious reasons.
18. Create a budget.
Know what you can spend and don’t go overboard.
19. Stay in touch.
Talk to your friends and family. If time goes by, don’t worry. They’ll always love you. And if you’re dating someone new, the people who matter most should see a positive change in you, not a negative one.
20. Don’t smoke.
It’s gross. Your hair will smell bad and you’ll get wrinkles. (And cancer.) And, hello. It’s 2017.
21. Work hard.
Get a job, start a business, but work.hard. Don’t expect someone to constantly tell you good job, instead, appreciate how great it feels to do something on your own.
22. Buy a ridiculous car.
Get a fun, fun car before you have baby seats to stick in it.
23. Don’t tattoo your face.
24. Find your faith.
It will be what gets you through in life. Anxiety, fear, sadness… all of this can be handled with a little faith in your life.
25. Take care of your body.
Slow down, when necessary. We don’t always have to go, go, go. 30 minutes of activity a day has the same effect as a mild-antidepressant.
26. Be aware of your surroundings. Always.
Walking to your car alone at night? Be aware. Making a mess around you? Be aware. Leave every place better after you’ve gone.
27. Steer clear of gossips.
The next thing you know, they’ll be talking about you.
28. Consequences are kind of huge now.
Get in trouble and you may go to jail. Don’t pay a bill? Bad credit. Don’t show up for an appointment? Get a bad reputation.
29. Say no.
BEST thing I’ve ever learned. “I’d like to, but I can’t.” You don’t owe anyone anything more than that. Time is precious and how you spend it is your choice.
30. Stay out late. Have amazing conversations. Make memories.
Ohmygosh, adulting can be so fun. Travel. Dream. Write down thoughts on napkins. Watch sunrises and sunsets. Wander. Skinny dip. Turn your phone off. Listen to the wind. DANCE. Oh, dance a lot. Get that butterfly-in-your-stomach feeling.
When I was younger, I remember feeling for adults.
“What a boring life they must lead…”
But now, as an adult for approximately 20 years, I kind of like it.
Marrying your best friend is amazing.
I can stay up as late as I want.
I can buy any car I want.
Feeling proud of something you did at work is good and cool.
Feeling like you contributed something to the world is nice.
And being hugged by your baby? I’m not sure there’s anything better.
Welcome to the world of adulthood! It’s all yours.
P.S. I reserve the right to add to this list at any time. Because I am an adult. 😉