Adulthood is heavy. It is knowing that there are no easy decisions. It is knowing that all things come at a price even if they are never bought. Especially when they are free. It is expecting the catch. It is the daily, maniacal effort to remain optimistic and hopeful, knowing that to fail is becoming no better than those you hate. Adulthood is the ability to hate. Truly hate. It’s possessing the emotional capability to feel deeply for others with the ability to rationalize those feelings. It is the weight of your own emotions in your muscles. It is the widest expanse of empathy you’ve ever carried, growing still. It is the understanding of others’ mistakes, their pain, and their despair, beyond logic, beyond circumstance.
Adulthood is a series of negotiations, on a case-by-case basis, of how much of you others deserve. It is the wager of your compassion, your attention, your love, and your time against others’ changing behaviours. Adulthood is rolling dice. Adulthood is hypocrisy. Adulthood is resisting forgiveness with force at its worst, and denying its purpose at best. Adulthood is accepting differences because tolerating them is not enough. Adulthood is ‘do unto others.’ Adults want to be accepted, and so we accept others, even when their failures seem to outdo our own.
Adulthood is having an elevator pitch for who you are and what you do, and committing it to memory. Adulthood is a series of slightly less-awkward handshakes. It is the diminishment of expectations for strangers to treat you kindly and generously; it is the wholehearted appreciation of those who do. Adulthood is finding comfort with platonic love. It is recognizing and making room for your kind. Adulthood is practical impatience; adulthood willingly wastes time alone, but refuses to do so with others. Adulthood is the fostering of worthwhile connections. It is physical exhaustion with renewed mental vitality. It is the resistance to all adult responsibilities. It is knowing that life is still hard when you get everything you want. Adulthood understands consequences.
Adulthood is picking favourites. Adulthood is having a regular coffee order instead of trying everything on the menu, because you can no longer afford not to like what you pick. It’s the fear of turning 30 for health reasons because you haven’t committed enough to your gym routine for the metabolism drop not to show. It’s understanding why cheating was a bad idea, in school and on people. It is the wistful reminiscence of the golden days of your early 20s and a weekly reminder that they aren't over, yet. It is repetition over and over until you believe. It is the knowledge that affirmations actually work. Single? Adulthood is a series of sexual dry spells, each several months long. It is fiscal responsibility borne of necessity. It is having a social life that tires you out, and being lonelier than you ever have been, the sting of it creeping up on you late at night.
Adulthood is being confident enough to believe you’re doing it right. It’s also being insecure about doing it wrong. Adulthood is wisdom. Adulthood is heavy. Adulthood took your whole life to get here, and knows that no matter what, everything will be okay. And at the very least, adulthood proves that everyone just gets way more stupid from here on out.