graph
This awesome graph is from Hyperbole And a Half . There’s also a cartoon that goes with this post. You do not want to miss it. Go ahead, go look. I’ll wait…

My friend sent me a link to this graph and the accompanying post yesterday. First of all, this is officially my new favorite blog. The pictures for the post about social interaction keep popping up in my head and making me giggle. (Especially, the creepy blonde. You’ll understand if you go read.) Also, anyone who worries that the wish genie might be a dick is okay by me.

But. Going back to the point… The graph (and cartoon) struck a nerve because I had been emailing my mom about the very subject of adulthood/coping earlier that day. About how behind and stressed I felt. And about how I was beginning to wonder if that wasn’t actually the real condition of adulthood, after all.

I wrote to my mom that I was beginning to suspect that adulthood isn’t some plateau you reach, when things gel and you finally have your act together. Maybe, instead, adulthood is spent feeling every bit as inept, uncoordinated and out of control as when we were teens. Except now we have to pay bills, too. (Though we don’t have to ask to use the car.)

So this graph/cartoon/post seemed to drive right the heart of the matter. Maybe none of us ever feels completely grown up. Maybe we’re all waiting for someone to notice we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. Or, at the very least, that we are nowhere near as “together” as we’re supposed to be.

And that’s really the crux of it, I think. When I think about being grown up, I don’t think about understanding IRAs or choosing term-life insurance. That sort of thing is big and scary, perhaps, but you can read up on it.

No, to me, adulthood is about being on top of things. I get my errands done on time — or even early! — and I cook real, healthy meals. (There’s even vegetables in them.) I have a schedule that isn’t upset at the smallest hiccup. And it doesn’t seem like one more item on my to-do list will send it all toppling down on my head.

But, seriously, how feasible is that? I’m a depressive with severe fatigue issues. In what world am I ever going to be well-organized enough that I return all my library books on time, always have a meal on hand (vegetables or no) and be sure I can be fully functional?

The fact is, this may be as good as I get. And it’s actually pretty damned good, all things considered.

And as I start to consider all the other adults I have met. It seems like everyone feels overwhelmed or, at least, overworked. There is always something they could be doing better, something they shouldn’t be procrastinating on but are anyway.

So maybe adulthood isn’t about achieving the wisdom to finally balance out all of the crap so that everything clicks along nicely in place. Maybe, instead, being a grown up is about having the wisdom to realize it’ll never click along nicely. So just prioritize, do as much as you can without going crazy and, when you’re at a loss, hum along until you remember the words.

In which case, I’m about as grown up as you can get. Which is why I totally deserve one of the trophies like in the cartoon. I’ll be expecting its arrival soon.

In the meantime, I should get a display case for it. I’ll put it on my to-do list.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dogatemyfinances September 9, 2010 at 4:49 am

Yea, I think we could all use a wife to do this crap.

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2 LindyMint September 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

You are so right, in so many ways. I often feel like I am on a constant swing between holding it together, and falling apart. And having kids of your own adds a whole new dimension to this adulthood-reluctance. I think all any of us can do is our best. (And I loved this cartoon too).

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3 catseye September 10, 2010 at 8:38 pm

AMEN, Abby! Couldn't have said it any better.

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