with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Leveling up

Last week, I had a full 20-minute phone call with my younger brother. Even though he’s a 20-something, I still sometimes catch myself thinking of him as his 10-year-old self, frozen in time. But, actually, he’s is taller than me, knows quite a bit about air conditioners and furnaces, and works a full-time job.

During our conversation, we talked about riveting things including credit scores, buying vehicles, and insurance. At one point, I said, “I know, I know. It’s so hard to think about all this stuff. I can remember feeling what you’re feeling. I can remember having a car that is unreliable. I remember, I remember.” And, at the end of the conversation, he said, “Yep, I’m adulting and it suuucks.” 

I laughed and then remembered that a few years ago I started what I thought might become a blog post about adulting. I tentatively titled it “What’s up with this adulting thing, anyway?” I thought it would be a funny, sort of reflective, relatable compilation of words that would make people laugh and not feel alone in the weird space of being a twenty-something.

Here is a bit of what I wrote at the time:

I feel as if I have been literally thrown into the throes of adulting. College seems easy compared to determining which insurance coverage I will need (an impossible knowledge), paying for damages to Blue Beauty, my 1990 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight (do you know how challenging it is to find a headlight assembly for a 1990 Oldsmobile?!), doing the 40-hour workweek and combating the feeling that I am in a period of continuous transition. 

The icing on the cake happened a few nights ago when I had a toss & turn all night kind of sleep. While in the half sleep, half awake trance like state, I sensed a dream slowly slipping away. I tried frantically to hold on to it because it seemed important – “This could be the book idea that sells millions!” Isn’t that how Harry Potter was born?!

Anyway, I was able to grasp it only to realize that I had just dreamed I considered engaging in criminal activity in order to pay my bills/buy a new car/pay off student loans, ohmygoshohmygosh. I grimaced at the thought that this is my life right now and that I still did not have a brilliant book idea. (sigh).

I know enough to know that my life right now is temporary, but gosh, it sure feels permanent. So, I suppose I must adopt the baby steps mindset, then. Baby steps working as a Receptionist with goals of using my writing to help people in a relevant way, baby steps paying student loans, baby steps building deeper relationships, baby steps praising God for this day, and baby steps as I continue to move. 

. . . 

I wanted to share that excerpt because that was written just a few short years ago and now my life looks so much different. It’s not that my life is so much better or easier or that I made it out of all difficulty. I really just leveled up and moved into a new type of difficulty. Today, my adulting style of choice involves marriage, owning a business, and saving for a down payment on a house. 

Another three years from now, I’m certain that my daily difficulty will be another new-to-me flavor yet again. Variety is the spice of life, no? The certainty that the current patterns of my life are momentary solidifies that my experience in life will always be about transition and baby steps. It will always be about trying to talk to myself more gently while I step into new styles of adulting. 

So, the best I or anyone can do is simply work to embrace the ordinary and remember the momentariness of the ordinary. One day, I’m sure that we’ll look back at the different levels we surpassed with fond affection and say to ourselves, “Silly me. I remember thinking how difficult Level 3 was while it was happening. And, it certainly was at the time and I tried my very best! But, man oh man, little old me had no idea what was in store come Level 8. You know what, though? I did pretty darn great, considering.”

That’s about as good as anything to aim for as I keep leveling up: doing “pretty darn great, considering.”

I’m curious, what does your flavor of adulting look like? What mindset is helping you through your current difficulties? What are you aiming for?

P.S. In case you were wondering I couldn’t find a headlight assembly to perfectly fit Blue Beauty. Instead, the entire grill was customized with headlights from an old Saturn and a pair of classy hood pins. 

P. P.S. Blue Beauty eventually ended up in the hands of my brother and his friends where they drove it to its death in the local county fair derby. R.I.P. (See pic below for the car getting prepped for the derby!)

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