Becoming an adult is like falling asleep… it starts off slow, then all at once boom! You are an adult and welcome to life in the real world. But, the twistedly, horribly funny part of it all is that it happens to everyone at different times. For some, it is that growth in teenage years to then being eighteen. For some, it is making it through college to then graduating. For some, it is even farther down the line when they finally meet the right person, and then they are married. Being an “adult” is an enigma within itself; every family, community, and culture viewing it in completely different ways. But, it all my time and all my experience, I have learned 10 universal truths… so, here are then 10 dos and don’ts when it comes to having successful adult life in the real world.
Do: Adventure, And Have A Plan
When it comes to life in the real world, having a plan is beneficial in many ways. When it comes to travel, it can give you the exact dates of your vacation, which you can then give to someone you trust. This way, someone knows where you are and when you are supposed to be back. But also, if anything goes wrong, you have someone to reach out to. Most importantly, though, a plan is a sure-fire way to stick to a budget. If you have paid for your transportation, where you are going to stay, and any other for-certain things, then it will be easier to spend within reason, knowing how much you really have to spend on food and merchandise for the entire trip.
Don’t: Be Too Impulsive
Following impulse can lead to traveling to unscheduled places, changes in your agenda, wasting time, and wasting money. Not only can this be a risk to your safety, but could be a risk to your health – such as not being able to pay for food. There is nothing wrong with having options or rearranging days, but to fall down the rabbit hole could be too risky.
Do: Have A Job Lined Up
First off, it is true that employers notice when you were at a job for less than six months. (The only thing they let slide is seasonal work.) So, that should be the first step of career life in the real world… unless it is harming you in some way, six months should be your minimum. But to this point, if you do want to leave a job, make sure to have another lined up. All you need is a two-week notice at your current location, so when you get hired at the new place they will totally understand having to push off your start date. This way there is no gap in your resume or dip in your finances.
Don’t: Rage Quit
I have not worked in a place without drama, without bitches, and moments of weakness where I want to walk out the door and never come back. But! If you don’t put in your two weeks notice, you will be black-listed from the company – never able to work for them or any of their affiliates again. For example, I cannot work for Victoria’s Secret because I quit Bath And Body Works. ‘Cause, that is the thing… there is a huge difference between quitting and resigning.
Do: Understand Your Limits
It will take me three years, six semesters, to earn my “two-year” Associate’s Degree. I did that on purpose. Though I am technically full-time at twelve credit hours, four classes a semester, to do it in two years would have meant five or six classes. Which, if I’m honest with my life in the real world, that would be just way too much for me. I value good grades over speed and so will universities and employers. Further, if you need to work at the same time, there is nothing wrong with being a part-time student. It doesn’t matter what other people do, you need to do what is right for you.
Don’t: Push Yourself Too Hard
Forget what is traditional, forget what other people are doing. Because, if you push yourself too hard you could run into many problems that could ruin your time at college and even your entrance into your intended career field. The more you take on, the harder it will be to have the best grades in every class. The more you take on, the easier it could be for you to burn out. The more you take on, it is very possible that you could fail out of classes… and college. Pace yourself.
Do: Leave A Door Open For Family
I have a very complicated relationship with my father and an almost non-existent relationship with my older brother. But, I realized that being upset about things – and in the case of people – I cannot control is drinking the poison while expecting the other person to die. It is healthiest for me, and you, to free yourself from the upset and just let things be. Do everything you can to let them know you still love them and you forgive them and then all you can do is leave the door open… the choice to walk through is on them. That is just the truth of dealing with family life in the real world.
Don’t: Burn Bridges
Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who should absolutely not be in your life and never be in your life again. But if there is even just a sliver of hope or care in your heart, like I said, leave the door open. Because… as much as we hate it, family will always hold an important place in our heart. Love them, hate them, family (blood or chosen) has become a fundamental part of who we are and carved a place in your brain that cannot be rewired. There are going to be points in time you want your parents or need a sibling to talk to or be able to reach out to someone who knew you before… so, do your best not to burn those bridges.
Do: Have A Good Budget
This really, really, really sucks. I know. Breaking down penny by penny and realizing how much money you have to spend on living, (almost all of it, by the way), really fucking sucks. But, budgeting means you can save money, and saving money means a lot of wondrous things that would help you make your way through life in the real world. A new car, a new phone, a new home, a fun vacation – you name it! It may take time but all those things that are wants, not needs, are within reach if you can stick to a budget.
Don’t: Get Loans For No Reason
I once knew a guy who wasted Financial Aid from college on multiple guitars and a girl who wasted hers on fancy phones, apartments, and other wants. And I will have a moment of true transparency to tell you I got a pretty hardcore loan to buy a lightsaber. All of these are bad. I know seeing money in your account is like “hot damn” and the impulse is to just get something you want, but this can fuck up everything. Especially when it comes to loans and credit card debt… guys, you have to pay that back. And even if you die? Your family has to pay that back. Nothing is free, so choose your debt wisely. `
Do: Try To Stay Healthy
Forget about size. Forget about weight. What is important is how you feel and what you are capable of. Having a healthy life in the real world means being able to perform all the activities of daily life without needing help. Walking a dog as much as they need, going up a flight of stairs without losing breath, performing the requirements of your job, being able to do your favorite activities such as swimming… all of these require good health. So, make sure to drink water, eat healthy food at appropriate portions, and get enough sleep.
Don’t: Avoid Medication
I have Bipolar II Disorder and part of my denial of what that really meant was not taking my medication. But once I made it through the five stages of grief and accepted that I am disabled and I a life-long, chronic illness, taking my medication has become increasingly important. With my medication, I am the closest I will ever be to “normal” and my version of healthy. So, even if it’s just some anti-biotics, medication has been studied, made, and practiced to help you in the most beneficial way possible.
Do: Understand What Your Home Needs
Not to say you need to have a minimalist, barebones, college guy’s apartment, but there is a difference between need and want. When it comes to making a home, “needs” can include things that Spark Joy, bringing happiness and making you feel safe and even loved. So, I definitely consider pets, plants, and some works of art a need when it comes to home life in the real world. Your home is supposed to be an expression of yourself and your safe space. Plus! There are a ton of cheap ways to makeover a place and a ton of cheap places to hunt for great items.
Don’t: Compare Yourself To Others
Getting inspiration is one thing, feeling guilt or disappointment in yourself is another. Every single person is in a different stage in their life and their journey has been unique to them. Though there are more people doing certain things at particular points in time, that doesn’t mean it is meant for everyone. I was 26 when I started college and I will be still living with my mother when I am 28 and there’s nothing wrong with that. I took a few years to travel, to take amazing opportunities, and follow my dreams. So, is it fair to me to compare myself to someone who went from high school to university to career? No. And by that logic, it is not fair to you. Don’t push yourself too hard or waste money on things you think you should have. Continue living withing reason and loving every part of your life.
Do: Realize Relationships Are A Two Way Street
The only possible relationship that I can imagine as a one-way street is doctors treating a patient in a coma. Even pets and infants show some sort of affection to their caretakers. So, ask yourself, are you not just doing all the heavy lifting, but all the lifting in general? Don’t message someone for at least two days… if they don’t reach out by themselves, then it may be time to re-evaluate. Sure, you can leave the door open, but it might be time to understand who is worth your time, energy, and love.
Don’t: Sacrifice Yourself For Others
You cannot pour from an empty cup. And though I have loved with my whole heart and soul and will do anything for that person, I am not on this Earth to feel like shit and be treated like shit and be taken advantage of and cease to be my own individual. And neither are you. Never, ever forget that you come first. Even if/when you become a wife and mother, you can only be a good wife and mother if you are healthy and happy. It is not selfish, it is a fundamental need and human right. Take care of yourself first.
Do: Learn Love Languages
I have found a truth that people love the way they wish to be loved. So, when we love, we want the other person to love the same way back. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. And in this realization, we can communicate what we need and understand what others need. There are many different, but still just as healthy, ways to love and there is nothing wrong in expressing what you need. Humans need love, need affection, and need safety – it doesn’t make you weak. In fact, being able to say what you need shows great strength and responsibility.
Don’t: Assume The Worst
Everyone deals with life differently. Everyone deals with stress differently. Everyone needs different things. Everyone can only offer certain things. It is not up to the other person to be 100% transparent (there is a difference between secrecy and privacy). It is not up to the other person to read your mind. You need to be responsible for your choices, including understanding who a person is and accepting them that way. It will only hurt you both if you expect change without precedence.
Do: Follow What You Believe
I believe in some crazy things and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you are not hurting yourself or others, who cares, right? If whatever it brings you peace or strength, you do you.
Don’t: Force Your Beliefs Onto Others
Everyone believes what they need to. No matter how simple, how traditional, or how weird, and how crazy… there is a reason they believe what they do and that is what they need to make it through their life. So, there is no point in forcing your beliefs on others, other than to cause hardship. Relax, and focus inward.
Life in the real world will always be a word on the tip of your tongue and a dream just before you wake. Life in the real world will always provide a feeling of being an imposter and wondering why it seems so easy to other people. But the truth is that you are seeing just the very surface of it all, you are seeing only the most perfect snapshot of what others are willing to share. All you can do is worry about yourself and live your life to the fullest. Do you have any advice for adulting? Comment below, and be sure to share this article with friends!
Author | English Major | #RealLifeBelle | Academic Romance | "This was no accident, this was a therapeutic chain of events." | www.TheMousyGirl.com