I think about the awkward transitional phase between being a “young adult” and being a “real adult” a lot, mostly because I’m in it. Every time I pay a bill or cook my own dinner I feel like a real adult. Those are the types of things that real adults do, right? But even though I have a job and credit cards and a car payment, I’m still only considered a young adult because I’m in my early 20s.
It’s sort of akin to the feeling of being a pre-teen. You get the weird emotions of a teenager, and often times you get the responsibilities of one, too. But when you want to do something that a teenager would be able to do, you’re thrown back into your pre-teen status. I remember that phase, and it’s just as awkward as the one I’m in now.
The area of my life that it pops up the most in is money. People think, often, that because I’m a young adult that I’m not good at being financially responsible. When I’m dead broke and can’t afford to do things that other people want me to do, they frequently assume it’s because I’m not being smart with my money. Honestly, I’m better at paying bills than several real adults that I know. When I don’t have money, it’s usually because I spent it all on bills. Mostly the problem is that I have a very low paying job. I mean, I make more than minimum wage, but only about a dollar more. When you take into account phone bills, internet, rent, electric, car payments, food, gas, credit card bills and the other miscellaneous things you need to run a household (dish soap, cat food, tin foil, garbage bags) it’s sort of amazing that I can afford living at all. My wife works a part time job at minimum wage because of her health, so she contributes absolutely as much as she can, but we still struggle sometimes.
Our most recent big splurge was seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We decided to make a date night of it on New Years day, because we’d both worked the night before and hadn’t been able to celebrate. That’s it. The big splurge was $40 for a movie. I feel like that’s not something that most people would see as reckless as far as money goes.
The job part of my life is where I feel like I’m stuck in the young adult world. I’m still working towards what I want to be when I grow up. It’s not a fast-food worker, that’s for sure. But I don’t know what it is. After a physically demanding, emotionally draining, eight hour day at work, I often think I just want a quiet desk job somewhere, answering phones and taking messages. But even that sounds like something I would eventually loathe going to five days a week. I want to do something that doesn’t leave me feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything at the end of my day. To be more succinct, I want to do something that leaves me feeling fulfilled. I think that’s something that every young adult wants, maybe even most real adults.
Long story short here, being a young adult skews people’s view of you. I think that’s weird. Work is rough and most people hate what they do 5 out of 7 days. I think that’s weird, too. We should all just quit our day jobs, do what fulfills us, and stop being weird about young adults.