When you’re little, everything an adult does seems pretty magical. They can go to bed at whatever time they want, they can watch all the TV their heart desires (even shows with kissing in them!), they have unlimited access to all the most amazing foods in the world, and they drive their own cars! These things all looked so incredible, and this was before we even knew what alcohol was or how awesome it would prove to be. A huge component about the impotence one can feel in childhood is that there are just so many cool things to do and see, and on top of no one listening to what you have to say, there appears to be a whole world of adventures that lies just beyond your reach. Little did we know that with the great, great power of being able to watch a Law and Order marathon into the wee hours, comes the great, great responsibility of having to pay for a dishwasher with your own money and then be responsible for actually filling and emptying it on the regular. If only someone had told us, we would have probably cherished our innocence and freedom a little more. If there are any 8-year-olds reading this, gather round for the most lame things you have to look forward to.
You have to actually be responsible for what you eat.
I grew up in one of those households where soda, chips, candy, and all manner of Little Debbie products were forbidden. We ate things like whole wheat bread, low-fat turkey breast, and actual oatmeal that you cook in a pot for like three hours. Let’s just call it what it is — gruel. Anyway, one of the most incredible things for me about being able to drive, and eventually about having my own apartment in which to store food, was the near-limitless access to all of the junk food I was denied in my youth. Gone were the days when I’d have to wait until a slumber party to gorge myself on Fruit By the Foot at my friend’s house, now I could simply hop over to the grocery store and fill up my cart with whatever my heart desired. In the first few months of living alone, I’m pretty sure I ate a metric ton of Doritos and drank several times my own weight in chocolate milk. It was probably the greatest time of my life. But pretty soon, my body piped up and was like, “Yo, girl, if you don’t quit eating this sh-t you’re going to get gout and die at the age of 30.” I wasn’t feeling well, and had about the same energy level as a sloth recently hit with a tranquilizer dart. I was also gaining weight. Needless to say, I realized pretty quickly that part of being an adult means putting relatively nutritious things in your body, and moving around once in a while. Do you know what it’s like to go into a grocery store, children, and walk past the ice cream and Hot Fries to make it to the health food aisle? Do you know how crappy kale tastes?!?! DO YOU KNOW MY PAIN? Don’t worry, it will come to you. You’ll realize that a diet of sugar rolled in trans fats is not sustainable, and that pretty much all of the magical snack foods you loved as a child serve only to close your heart valves. Enjoy the Gushers while they last.
Chores never end: They become your life.
How much I would give to return to the days where I was assigned one measly task to do every day, and was foolish enough to spend twice the time arguing with my sister about who has to take the recycling bins out front. If I could get away with just sweeping up the kitchen floor, I would be the happiest person in the world. Instead, as with most adults, I am responsible of the cleanliness and overall habitability of my living space. I either spend a decent chunk of time every day washing dishes, emptying trash bins, vacuuming, and putting things away, or I will have a brief, disgusting slide into the kind of apartment that TLC would do a documentary show about before condemning it to be razed to the ground. It’s shocking how quickly things can go from “generally okay looking” to “this is where we found the body, under a pile of cats and ice cream cartons.” The chores required to maintain a decent level of organization never get any less boring or tedious, and they only take longer as you move up in the world and acquire more square footage and thus more knick-knacks to fill them with. It’s just a pretty unfortunate situation overall, and will occasionally have even the most motivated cleaner in the world wondering if paying a maid once a week to come and do this stuff wouldn’t be a better solution, only to swiftly realize that a) you are not yet that lazy and b) you are far too poor.
Taxes are a thing, and you have to do them.
Depending on the kind of work you do, taxes will either become a minor nuisance, or the bane of your entire existence. If you work for yourself, if you have your own business, if you have clients on the side, if you have multiple jobs, if you do anything other than the absolute norm of 9-5, taxes are basically designed to make you throw up your hands in frustration and say, “Whatever, government, take my money. I don’t care anymore.” But even if you have the kind of job that makes the tax-filing experience just the filling in of a few lines, you’re guaranteed to find yourself at three in the morning, some time in April, essentially crying at your desk. You see, children, you earn money — and the government takes some of it, to pay for things like roads and firemen and wars. Which is fine, it’s just a part of life. But then, once a year, you may owe them money, or they may owe you money — either way it’s up to you to spend your time poring over receipts and trying to remember business expenses while you hope that you don’t end up in the negative and join Wesley Snipes in federal prison. It’s just no fun, and there’s no getting out of it. On the bright side, though, if you do get a refund check, you go into a temporary hallucination that makes you forget that it’s not new money, but in fact your own money that had already been taken from you and is now being returned with most of it taken out. Maybe you should just live off the land and renounce paper money altogether, I don’t know.
Your friends start pairing off, and then promptly falling off the planet.
A thousand gold coins for those who manage to get married and have children without becoming entirely defined by those things, you are the truest heroes. As most of us know, there comes a depressing moment in which the relationships that used to perhaps add something to our friends’ lives and bring joy to everyone now becomes the thing that removes them entirely from our lives. You will see people — people who a short year or so ago would stay up all night drinking wine and discussing literature, politics, sex, and entertainment — who are now consumed with seating arrangements and bombarding you with photos of ultrasounds. It’s especially hard not to begrudge them their newfound bliss when it means you not only never, ever see them again, but on the rare occasions you hear from them, they have become a totally different person. Perhaps the most palpable part of this complete lameness is that nagging voice in the back of your heads that one day, this will be you, and you will actually reflect with real joy about your timeshare in Florida and talking endlessly about your spawn. Stave off that feeling as long as possible, kids, you’ll be better for it.
People keep asking you for money, even when you don’t have any.
So let’s say it’s the end of the month, and you’ve maybe gone a bit overboard on Buying Useless Things You Don’t Actually Need (the official hobby of every adult, you’ll see), and things are looking bleak in your checking account. As if this weren’t bad enough, you’re going to come home to about seven different people to whom you owe money. That water you like running so much? Yeah, it’s not free. Your apartment? Someone owns it and you’re only borrowing it from them for several hundred/thousand dollars a month. Electricity? You can’t even see it, but it costs money. I know, it’s ridiculous. And the thing is, these people don’t care if you don’t have any money because you saw a shirt that looked like all of your childhood dreams and adventures. They just want to get their check and go about their business. So now, you have to decide between eating (which you’ve heard nothing but great things about), and being able to stay in your apartment/not get your phone cut off. It’s a sucky situation, and one that you’ll run into more than you want to admit. And I know what you’re thinking — just don’t spend so much money during the month! And you’re right, but wait until it’s Sunday morning and you’re so hungover your eyebrows hurt and someone is like “Hey let’s go get day drunk and eat eggs benedict!” You’re going to go, kid, you just don’t know it yet.