As Clueless As I Ever Was

Now that I’m supposed to be an adult, I find myself trying to read more “grown up” novels.  You know, less “Divergent” and more “Gone Girl.” But it’s been a bit difficult to find books that are both intriguing, fun to read, and relatable. While books like the aforementioned are great in their own way, they didn’t necessarily strike a chord with me. They weren’t relatable.

I want books that are like my favorite TV shows and movies. You know why I love shows like “Friends” and “New Girl” and movies like “Silver Linings Playbook”? They are all about characters around my age who are still trying to adjust to this whole “adulthood” nonsense.

Which is why I was thrilled when I discovered fiction author Jonathan Tropper after seeing the film adaptation of one of his books, “This Is Where I Leave You.”  You probably remember seeing trailers for this movie. It stars Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, the guy from “Girls,” and the congressman Kevin Spacey murdered in “House of Cards.”

Anyway, after seeing “This Is Where I Leave You,” I dug around amazon.com searching for more of Tropper’s books.  Turns out his works have a common theme: around 30-years-old-ish characters who have no idea where their life is going. I settled on “Plan B,” a story about a group of 30-year-old friends from college who are are all going through different types of quarter-century crises. The books had a couple of great passages that really articulate what it’s like to be a mid-20-something or early 30-something.

“Thirty… shit. It’s a nice round number to arrive at if you have it all together. Success, love, a family, the overall sense that you actually belong on the planet. If you have all that, you can wear thirty well. But if you don’t, if feels like you’ve missed the deadline, and suddenly your chances of ever getting it right, of ever achieving true happiness and fulfillment, are fading fast. You realize that all your hopes and dreams up until this point were actual expectations that, still unrealized, have become desperate prayers…”

The book was a good, fun, and occasionally thought-provoking read that often reflected some of my own thoughts about transitioning from higher education to the “real world.” It also reiterated something I realized lately: contrary to what we believed as kids, adults have no idea what they are doing and they are not in complete control of anything. Kind of a terrifyingly comforting reiteration to get from a book, but I’ll take it. I suppose it just confirms that we’re all just winging it.

Time Marches On: Signs That I’m Turning into an Adult

There are certain moments that pop up every now and then during which I realize, “huh, I think this is a sign that I am no longer a kid.” These are rather unsettling, however, because in my head I’m still a teenager. I try to avoid thinking about the whole “you’re an adult and you’ve got responsibilities like knowing how to change batteries in a smoke detector, and starting a 401k, and getting your own health insurance.”

Anyway, no matter how hard I try to avoid thinking about the fact that teenagers think I’m old enough to now be addressed as “ma’am,” I can’t go a few days without being reminded of my entrance into adulthood.

Here are some of my more recent “I’m not a kid anymore” observations.

  • My mom has a long-standing love of white dinnerware. I recently spent a solid 15 minutes perusing the white dinnerware aisle at Target BY MYSELF before selecting a few items of my own. Yep, I’m turning into my mother.
  • I have to Google acronyms I see online. IIRC? What in the world does that mean?
  • I witnessed people doing some dance called “the Wobble” for the first time ever at a wedding this summer. It confused me.
  • College freshmen look like babies to me.
  • It seems absurd to let a 16-year-old have a driver’s license.
  • I don’t understand how Disney Channel shows are even popular. Back in my day, they were way better than the cheesy crap that is shown now.

Making My Own Shelter

Now that I am completely (ahem, mostly) responsible for taking care of myself and my finances, I find myself in situations that I never even would have imagined a couple of years ago.  These situations stress me out far more than they probably should. They also sometimes result in me making questionable decisions with my money. I guess you could say I’m reluctantly entering adulthood.

For example, on a recent Sunday afternoon, I made an exasperated phone call to my parents while standing in the bedding aisle of a rather shady Walmart (although, let’s be real: there’s no such thing as an “un-shady” Walmart). It had come to my attention that a mattress pad is necessity. Apparently having a mere mattress is not enough. You must cover the supposedly plush rectangle with more plushy stuff and then put your impossible-to-fold fitted sheet on top of this artificial cloud you have created.

My exasperation stemmed from a multitude of things. I hadn’t budgeted for this purchase, I didn’t know which type of mattress pad was the best one, I had already made the mistake of picking the wrong type of sheets from Ikea (lesson learned: do not skimp on sheets. Your skin will regret it) and I didn’t want to make another costly bedding error, and I was shopping by myself.

“I never even thought that I’d have to buy stuff like this,” I said to my dad. “Adulthood is hard.”

“You were sheltered,” my dad said with a chuckle on the other end of the line. “You’ve lived a sheltered life.” He went on to say it’s not a bad thing, that he and my mom were happy to have provided for me all these years, blah, blah, blah.

Now, before you go off thinking that I was some spoiled little princess, let me stop you. I was not entirely spoiled. Among many other restrictions, I never had a car in high school, I never had more than a $10 weekly allowance from the beginning of high school all the way through law school, my brother and I were not allowed to drink sodas except on the weekends, and designer purses were out of the question unless if I saved up my pennies and bought them myself (even then, I wasn’t allowed to have one until after I graduated from high school). #FirstWorldProblems, am I right?

However, my parents never hesitated to provide me with things I needed, like tuition for law school, a new laptop when my current one was on death’s door, a new TV after my current one began making ear-piercing screeching noises every time I turned it on, textbooks for school, gas money, etc. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate that I never really had to worry about those things. I also consider myself fortunate that I no longer have a television that weighs 800 pounds and blasts out my eardrums (do y’all remember how heavy non-flat screen TVs were? Sheesh. What a pain.).

Well, now the cord has finally been cut (ahem, mostly). I now frequently experience sticker shock and extreme annoyance at buying things like allergy medicine, extra hangers for my closet, and shower curtain rods. These things seem frivolous and necessary at the same time.

My brain is stupid when it comes to spending my own money sometimes. Buying a $35 lamp with a stainless steel finish and elegant gray shade? WORTH IT. Buying a $16 “giraffe trinket dish” to put my earrings in? ALSO WORTH IT. Buying three Glade apple cinnamon candles all at once? COMPLETELY WORTH IT.

Buying a broom? NO. THAT’S DUMB. Buying a vacuum? YEAH, RIGHT. Buying a mattress pad? WHO NEEDS IT? I’ll sleep on that spring-filled brick, thank you very much.

Alas, but what makes a house a home is more than just candles that smell like fall and light fixtures that bring a sense of coziness. Things like Swiffer sweepers, shower curtain rods that function properly, and sheets that don’t feel like sandpaper are also needed to make your tiny apartment one that is fit for an adult and not some misfit college freshman.

I have gone from being a sheltered girl to being an adult female who is attempting to furnish and maintain her own shelter. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, even if that mattress pad I spent forever selecting still hasn’t actually made it farther than the living room. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.

I’m a Walking Stereotype

I’m in my mid-20s, I have two advanced degrees, I am not employed, and… I live at home with my parents.

I’m basically the stereotypical millennial. Except I dislike selfies.

Okay, so let’s get this straight: I’m living at home TEMPORARILY. For the summer. For three months.

My year-long legal fellowship doesn’t begin for another couple of weeks because I had to take the bar exam first.

The funny part about the whole “I’m living at home” thing is that I’ve already signed a lease for an apartment that begins in mid-August. The apartment in a new complex that’s still under construction. That’s right, I signed a contract to live in a place that I’ve never actually seen and doesn’t technically exist yet. But on the plus side, no one will have ever used my kitchen or bathroom until I step foot in the place. Priorities, people.

So, what does all this mean?

It means I was studying for the life-changing, insanity-inducing, beast-of-a-test known as “the bar exam” AT HOME. I was staying up until odd hours of the night and slaving away at the same desk I sat at almost a decade ago when I was in high school. The same desk where I did my calculus homework, typed up my college applications, and did research on shark dissection (shoutout to my Advanced Biology class from 9th Grade; yeah, I took that class back when I thought I wanted to be a doctor. That plan fell through rather quickly. Do you know how disgusting dissection is? It didn’t help that my lab partner thought it would be a grand idea to dissect the tiny shark’s brain).

It was weird.

“Your room looks like what it used to in high school,” my mom complained one day. “It’s a mess.”

My childhood bedroom is sort of in limbo, just like me. Some elements of my childhood remain, while others have been discarded over the years.

It’s got remnants of being a kid: all my furniture is the same, my old dead PC that was fried due to a power surge is collecting dust on my desk, and my favorite childhood books are stacked on a shelf in my closet. There are dozens of VHS TAPES (you read that right) filled with recorded episodes of “8 Simple Rules” in there somewhere too. It’s like a graveyard of my youth.

But then a lot of stuff has disappeared, now that I think about it. The poster of singer Michelle Branch is gone, as are the stupid frilly pink curtains. The bulletin board littered with movie stubs, ads ripped from magazines, and photos of people I’m not even friends with anymore has been replaced. The dinosaur-like non-flatscreen TV is long-gone. Instead of math and science textbooks, my floor is covered with textbooks from law school and outlines from my Evidence and Torts classes. The walls are now painted a faint green instead of baby pink.

Nothing screams “adulthood” more than neutral-colored walls with minimal wall decorations. Slowly but surely, I’m headed into adulthood – and so is my room.

I Miss My Youth

I miss being a kid. My only responsibilities were running around and laughing a lot. And someone else was in charge of my hair. -Anonymous

Also, it was perfectly acceptable to scribble all over yourself with gel pens and fall asleep at 8 p.m. without any judgement. Adulthood is hard.