Before I begin I would like to say that I was tempted to call this blog post “low and high key adulting”.
When I moved up to Manchester I was faced with a whole bunch of tasks I’d not been doing either since I was at uni, or that I’d never had to do before. It’s quite a shed load to get given at once and as I’m living alone, I had no one but the family group chat to help me navigate the intricacies of adulthood, from “why isn’t my heating working” to “how does one get wifi”*. Other battles I’ve had to fight include turning the fridge on, turning the smoke alarm off, and understanding the delicate balance of working a fan oven. For the first three-four weeks everything I put in the oven would get burnt, not a pretty smell nor a comfort when all I wanted was some garlic bread.
I think it’s fair to say I’m now at a point where I’m reasonably juggling most adult tasks and some extra general life goals. I’m eating breakfast and making myself lunch everyday, my evening meals are sensible, healthy and require cooking, not just throwing together. I drink two or more litres of water almost every day, I’ve got back into running and I’ve got hobbies galore. Eight hours’ sleep a night still feels like an elusive goal but I seem to be doing okay without it. I had a cold and I got over it. I pay my bills and sometimes I even remember people’s birthdays. I don’t mean to brag but, damn, am I proud of these day to day achievements.
It’s taken two months to get here, and a lot of days in those months I felt like more things were falling through the cracks than weren’t. My choices of evening meals are a good bench mark to measure my progression as an adult: first, it’d just be ready meals from the M&S literally in the building I work in. I progressed to that pasta you buy in a packet and just chuck some pre-jarred bolognese sauce on. When I first made an omelette with chips, peas and salad, I sent it to the family GC and I genuinely don’t know the last time they were that proud of me. Now I’m making my own pasta sauces and writing my own recipes.
But for a long time it was two ingredient meals, and that’s fine (up to a point). When I was away in Paris and had forgotten to get my mum anything for mother’s day but was mostly cool about it, I tried to explain my mindset to my friend as high and low level adulting. It was about prioritising what I needed to do and what wasn’t essential at that second. Imagine you’re learning to juggle. You learn to juggle with two objects, and once you’ve mastered that you add a third. You don’t add a fourth until you’ve mastered that, and so on and so forth. “Have you got a gig in Manchester yet?” “No, but that’s high level adulting”.**
This goes hand in hand with forgiving yourself instead of sweating the little stuff. My mum’s birthday present didn’t turn up on time but it’s on the way and she knows I didn’t mean ill by not having it yet. I’ve not dedicated as much time to my art and projects as I’d like to but I’ve been eating well and drinking a lot of water. I have most of the basics nailed and I’m sure I’ll get better with each week that passes. The next object I want to juggle is going running twice a week.
Don’t push yourself to do everything at once. Forgive yourself for letting things slide. Go easy and build things up. Get low level adulting sussed first, and accept that high level adulting might take a while. Doing too much too soon is setting yourself up for failure. Learn to accept that you might not totally have your shit together right now, but you have it together enough and you’re doing your bloody best. Get a firm handle on the low level stuff and gradually lift the bar for low level stuff until it also covers what used to seem like high level stuff. We all figure it out enough eventually.
*Still not totally sure if I have wifi really. It’s all quite dubious.
**I now have a gig in Manchester on May 1st. Come along.