Well. 2020. March 2020, no less. Which makes me 42, and therefore the answer to life, the universe, and everything. (If you don’t get that reference, I have nothing further to say to you. Come back later.)
I clearly remember as a teenager thinking that 27 would be the age. When I was 27, I thought, I would be completely together. I’d be organised, and confident, and good at social things, and a proper adult, and … stuff. I don’t think I actually had much of a clear idea of what being a proper, together adult would look like or entail, but it did include jeans and boots with chunky heels. (It was the mid-nineties. Everything had chunky heels.) Plus I probably wouldn’t have freckles or spots.
Turns out, 27 was not the point at which I magically became completely together. I was, in fact, pretty spectacularly untogether at 27, and while in many ways I feel a lot more together at 42, I certainly have no answer regarding the question of life, the universe, and everything.
I also still have freckles and spots, as apparently acne is for life, not just for your teens. Cool.
As it turns out, adulting isn’t about being together, certainly not in the sense I imagined it as a teenager. It’s not about being polished and in control, at least not for me. Although, if that’s how it’s worked out for you, then awesome. Just as we’re all different, all our versions of being a grown-up are different, too.
But mine means being untogether, and being okay with that.
It means “filing” things in piles on the kitchen table, underneath the leaflets for double-glazing someone put through the door.
It means eating chocolate digestives for lunch while the SO’s away because, well, I like them, and thinking of food is hard.
It means forgetting birthdays not because I don’t love people, but because I put them on the wrong page in my diary, and that’s the only way I remember them.
It means some days I get All The Things™ done, and some days just stringing a sentence together is an accomplishment.
It means understanding that life just doesn’t work the way we want it to, and sometimes it deals us kicks we wish we could outrun, but can’t. We get sick. We get hurt. We lose people we love. We lose things that were dear to us. We lose opportunities and days and chances, and none of these things can be found again. We lose time, and years, and we don’t reach the goals we thought we would. We don’t achieve the things we wanted to.
And sometimes we even lose our sense of ourselves.
And all we can do is weather it. All we can do is the best we can to befriend ourselves again, in the face of all these other great and crushing losses, and accept that years pile up behind us more than ahead of us, and that some things are gone for good.
All we can do is the best we can with everything, and that’s always changing, depending on if we’re well or poorly, if we’ve eaten or not, slept or not, cared for ourselves or not.
Which sounds rather sad and morose and seems to require a lot of sighing and maybe a bouquet of wilted lilies to drag around. But it’s not. It’s a little sad, sure, but it’s wonderful, too, because it’s simple, in a way. All we can do is the best we can. And I can manage that.
Because sometimes I will remember to send a birthday card, and some weeks I will remember to cook, and leave things in the fridge for lunch, and sometimes I even put things away in the file box or (gasp) throw them out.
And that’s enough.
Growing up – living – isn’t about reaching some strange, undefined goal of adultness or togetherness. It’s not about remembering every detail of everything, or – dear god no – about being some sort of perfectly adept social butterfly.
It’s about being enough. And, lovely people, we are enough. You are enough. So am I. I know you don’t feel it sometimes, because I know I certainly don’t feel it sometimes, but it’s true. Being enough isn’t being perfect. It’s almost the polar opposite. It’s about doing our best, and knowing that, even if our best on that particular day is curling into our beds and just surviving, it’s still enough. It is always enough, and just because we once thought – or were told – it was something more or different doesn’t change that.
Being an adult is not being someone else. It’s being who we are, and embracing that, and loving ourselves for it, not in spite of it.
And using decent moisturiser, because now we’re grown-ups we get spots and wrinkles, and the cheap stuff makes you look like you walked into a wasp’s nest. Trust me on this.
Now tell me, lovely people – what’s your snippet of practical wisdom you’ve learned along the way? Let me know below!