I was talking to a friend* earlier this month and she was telling me a story about how she was walking in the rain with a raincoat on and saw this lady who was also in the rain, struggling with her broken umbrella and getting utterly drenched in the process. My friend said she found the situation really interesting because it was a metaphor for life and that was just something that stuck with me.
I finished my last university class in December of 2014 and ever since then, I’ve basically been on my own. I remember, a few months before then, around my 21st birthday, I was pondering what my 22nd year would be like, due to the unprecedented levels of uncertainty and responsibility I was about to take on as I became an ‘adult’ – complete with a degree and the ability to drink legally basically everywhere in the world. This was it. I was walking out into the world. with all my training – both home and formal – as my umbrella, and no idea if that umbrella was broken or if it would even be raining outside. For all I knew, I could be walking into a blizzard or a sand storm and then how would my umbrella help me?
Fast-forward to today. It’s over a year later and honestly, this adulting thing is just hard. It really is and it’s hard in all sorts of ways. From small random things like the realization that literally, everything you do in this life costs some amount of money – I never really knew that both sewage and garbage were things you paid to have disposed of, though, thinking about it now, I can’t imagine anyone dealing with that shit** for free – all the way to the huge things like financial planning and taxation (aka ‘how to decide between being broke when you’re young & being broke when you’re old’ and ‘the thin line between avoidance and evasion’).
Speaking of which, how exactly does one figure this out? It’s like “Well, you have to save for retirement because you’ll need money to enjoy yourself in the future and pay bills and stuff when you can’t work.”. On the other hand, why am I working so hard now for money and not enjoying the fruits of my labour? And then when you do decide to save, that’s a whole other ball game because then they hit you with that “if you just stick money in a savings account, you’re technically losing money due to inflation”. So now, I have to start learning about investing and investment strategies and sheltering your money from the tax man for as long as possible and what the hell are 401Ks and ESPPs and Roth IRAs? Oh, by the way if you do invest your money, some assholes somewhere could make a series of bad decisions or ‘the market’ could just have a mood swing and now 70% of your savings are wiped out and you’re looking for the nearest train to step in front of. End rant.
This kind of leads me into another important dimension to this: the emotional. When you’re out there in that maelstrom that is life, it’s very easy to get dragged down because life has a way of being very emotionally draining. I have spoken to several of my friends and acquaintances who tell me about how challenging it is and how they hard they struggle emotionally. These are people my age and older and younger who are enjoying varied levels of success and accomplishment in their lives. They talk about struggling; to get out of bed in the morning, to feel motivated, to understand what the point of it all is and why they should even care. They struggle with abusive relationships and crushing loneliness – the kind that is amplified rather than rectified in a crowded room.
What’s interesting is that these are often people that you look at and talk to and at the surface, seem to have it all together. They’re your boss, your best friend or that couple with all the cute pictures and captions on the ‘gram. They are the friend of a friend that’s always turning up on snapchat and your favorite rapper. They are you and they are me. It’s easy to look at the people around us and think that everyone else has it all together but you; that the ones that aren’t struggling don’t ‘have two heads’, but the truth is that we only see what people show us and no one wants to flaunt their vulnerabilities.
I’d like to be able to proffer a solution, to suggest some adage or quote some quote that ties this all into a nice bow but I can’t. Because there isn’t one. What I can say though is that life can be difficult. It can also be easy and rewarding and fun and fulfilling. Like with the weather, there is so much about life that we cannot understand and even more that we cannot control but what we can understand and control are the things we do. So, you know, try and not be a dick, I guess. Be a friend to your friends. Ask for and offer help – a problem shared being half solved and all that. Speaking of which, I half-joked on twitter about wanting to start an adulting support group. Some people, also semi-seriously, I think, thought it was a good idea so, y’know, hit me up if you think that should be a thing.
* Shalla to Tomiwa for the story and stuff.
** Yes, I saw the pun. No, it wasn’t intentional. Yes, I stand by it nonetheless.