(I don’t think I can adult very well)
Now that I’ve moved out of my parents’ place into a proper flat, I’ve been lobbed headlong into the world of responsibilities and problems that used to exist exclusively in the domain of my parents’ over-my-head (figuratively and spatially) conversations, full of scary-sounding phrases like ‘rent’ and ‘those shitters at the bank’.
But now, these phrases are key parts of my vocabulary; I met some new people the other week, students of a similar age to me, and we almost instinctively delved into a conversation about rent payments, and a typically British nondescript moaning about prices being too high, but having the civil stiff upper lip to not place blame on any particular political party so as to render our carefully-crafted small-talk ‘meaningful’. Equally, a recent discussion with my flatmates about paying rent constantly teetered on the precipice of flustered-but-not-quite-willing-to-do-much-about-it displeasure that is very much the lifeblood of a middle-aged person, still pissed off at the world from a decade of listening to punk in their youth, but too worn down by a combination of work, offspring and the ever-growing crushing reality of the bleakness of human existence to do anything about it.
So now, I spend my time hassling my flatmates for rent payments, and checking our toilet paper supplies in case I need to pick up another 37 rolls on my next trip to Nisa to grab some air freshener, second-class stamps and a few handfuls of red peppers so I can treat myself to a bean-and-pepper quesadilla that evening. This time last month, my biggest concern was tiptoeing around Google searches to find Bloodborne walkthroughs without giving away plot spoilers to a game that consists entirely of beating large monsters in the face with a hammer. But critically, those earlier problems haven’t gone away; I still have a novel to write, and an essay on Until Dawn to produce, and black t-shirts with offensive slogans to wear. Adulting, I’m finding, is about balancing naïve desires one actually enjoys with the harsh reality of figuring out where the bloody Hell the electric meter is.
But there’s more; those naïve desires were completely internalised, acts and dreams that are at best selfish, and at worst egomaniacal, the successful implementation of which only affects me. Adulting, however, affects other people: I’m relying on my parents’ money to pay rent until my maintenance loan comes in, so a misplaced transaction online could screw over the two people in the world who care for nothing but my own success; I need my flatmates to contribute to utility and broadband payments, and a similar administrative cock-up on my end would see my friends lose their money, and suffer because I’m a moron.
I’ve never been afraid of failure in the past because I’ve known for a while that I’m able to deal with a lot of stress and a lot of setbacks, and that any mistake will be soon rectified a thousand times over. But I can’t make those decisions with the resources and trust of other people; if I piss away my mates’ money, it’s gone, and no amount of desire from me, nor action from them, will bring it back. As a result, I’m far more disciplined and cautious with my actions when they involve others; I won’t clean my room for years on end, but will leave the kitchen spotless each night because its condition affects my friends.
I guess adulting teaches empathetic responsibility more than anything else; one has all the rights in the world to piss away one’s own life, but no legitimate reason to screw up other people’s.