The Fresh Hardship of Adulthood

Expenses: Rent. Insurance. Tuna fish. Wireless internet. A new dishwasher. Cat food. Tire rotation. Heat. Loofas…

Chores: Start laundry. Unload dishwasher. Dust base boards. Scrub toilets. Mop bathroom. Wipe counter-tops….

The lists go on. You see, I graduated college in May, moved away and married in June, started a job in July and adopted two pet cats in September. Adulthood is all but slapping me in the face. I’m itching for some kind of routine that keeps me home in the evenings, cooking and sipping wine over tv. There are some nights of cooking and sipping, but most evenings sand us thin between the rigor of commitment: to graduate classes, to prayer groups, to friends, to cleaning house and laundering clothes.

And of course, our nights would not be so full if we didn’t spend our days gainfully employed. And by gainfully, I mean paid just enough to live but not enough to whittle debt or world travel. That’s just part of being young though, right? Perhaps or, more likely, it is being an adult.

Much talk circulates at my age about being a grown-up. Go ahead person over thirty, smirk knowingly or roll your eyes in disgust at my ignorance. Here’s what I think anyway: Being a grown-up is hard.

But I am not afraid of a hard life. I’m afraid of a life stunted by the reality that life is hard.

I’ve witnessed many lives in the years spent reaching adulthood. Lives, I believe, lived out of fear. Maybe it isn’t always the fear of a hard life, but I can see beneath that fear, the greater ice-berg fear that difficulty and struggle are permanent, damning conditions. And following only shortly behind that fear, is the illusion that we’re entitled to ease. That a good life is the same as an easy life.

Here’s some news I’ve picked up: difficulty and struggle may very well be permanent, but whether they are damning is a choice. And ease is neither a promise nor an inheritance.

Maybe I don’t absolutely adore my job. Maybe I long for more time to sit on the couch. Perhaps I am physically tired from this persistent cold, and my husband is haggard from sleeplessness and stress. Or maybe there is something in your life much more consuming and painful.

Being sanded down by adulthood, letting the grain make us dull, that’s easy. Recognizing the difficulty and struggle in life, and choosing to let it make us grander, more intricate individuals of character and integrity… that is what’s really hard.

Facing adulthood, I think of life like a poorly planned party: lots of expectations and everyone dressed up in fancy clothes, all to find a mediocre buffet and cash bar. That’s not to say it’s hopeless or unfortunate. It just is what you make of it. Will you mourn the cold chicken and dry chocolate cake, or will you put on some tunes and bust a move?

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4 comments

  1. Pingback: The Pressables | Truth and Cake

  2. judy ludwick

    Jane-you are such a gifted writer. Enjoyed reading this piece. I am good friends with your Aunt Laurie..saw that she recommended we ck out your blog: glad I did! Keep up the good work!

  3. Presley Wesson

    Well well, for the youthful “college student” this is a reality check. We are often looking to the “next step” as the achieved or better life… needless to say we never actually “achieve.” Thank God we are always challenged and always changing, but more importantly we are always called to be content. To the kid it’s if I could only be the “college athlete of their dreams”, to the middle school student if I could only get my braces off, to the high school student when they could drive or next when they can just “leave and go to college.” Then the college student it’s never about now… it’s all “preparing” us for… what you have addressed, adult life. And after graduating, with your astounding 4.0, adult life is here and is happening. Its wild, how we feel like we are just suppose to “be” that employee that is 20 years deep in the “work world,” or the friend and supporter to our body around us if our house is a disarray. I am thankful for you sharing how it is hard, and how we do have to choose contentment in Christ, which allows us to be joyful in a world that teaches us to pass up what lies in front of us and skip forward to trying to achieve the “end” result… but it’s the contentment in the now and the process of our present lives that change us and really prepare us for the next step. And isn’t that all that is required of us?
    Micah 6:8 offers instruction on what is required of us in each season of our lives. This is The Message, “He has already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously- take God seriously.”

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