1. People are going to dump you for no good reason.
There is something in the human brain which demands a logical explanation for even the most illogical events. “You can’t just up and dump me without a goddamn good reason,” it says, “I am in incredible pain right now. Someone justify this to me!” But sometimes, you can’t. They didn’t cheat on you. They didn’t leave you for someone else. They didn’t move away. There was no big life change. They just kind of stopped being into you for whatever reason, and there is nothing in the whole world less satisfying than that nonsense. It provides no closure, gives you nothing tangible to work on, and doesn’t even make for good bouts of self-loathing. You just have to kind of absorb the blow and accept that sometimes things don’t work out even though you did everything right, and there is nothing you can do about it. Except possibly key a penis into the side of their car in a fit of blind frustration, which you can’t even really do because they didn’t do anything except follow their heart. UGH, WHAT AN ASSHOLE.
2. Taxes never stop being complicated.
We all laughed about taxes. We would hear about them occasionally and be like, “tee hee, that’s just something grown-ups get all mad about in early spring.” But now we are the adults, and we are the ones ready to pull our eyelashes out one by one, waiting for an angel from H&R Block to float down from the clouds in a blur of trumpet music and golden confetti and tell us all our problems are solved. No matter what you did, it’s incredibly frustrating, and somehow always wrong. And God forbid you have multiple income sources, or need to exempt something, or move. Then you can basically just start throwing bricks with “What More Do You Want From Meeeeee” scrawled on them in your own blood through the IRS headquarter windows.
3. No one is guaranteed a job.
You’re all sitting around drawing pictures of yourself as an astronaut or ballerina or veterinarian, meanwhile your teachers were frequently retiring to their lounge to chain smoke and burn cigarette holes in your little sketches, mumbling about what fresh spring fools you all are. And then they turn on each other to compete to the death for the one full health care package available between them.
4. You have to work out, and you have to do it a lot.
When you’re a kid, and working out is awesome and fun and is heavily ingrained in your daily activities and sustained for long periods of time because you are little more than a moving ball of pure energy, it’s great. If someone were to leave you outside to play for an undetermined amount of time to let you burn up all the calories you wanted to, you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself out of sheer joy. But working out actually isn’t something that can just be seamlessly integrated into the rest of one’s day when you have responsibilities ‘n’ shit, especially if you’re one of the lucky few who actually landed one of those aforementioned jobs/exploitative internships, and therefore has to be in a constant state of working lest you get replaced by someone younger and willing to work for less. You are going to be the most tired you’ve ever been in your life, and it’s going to be time to go for a long, boring run in the rain. That’s what exercise is during adult weekdays.
5. The things in fashion magazines never look good on you.
It doesn’t matter what size you are, if you have good skin, if you have pretty hair, if you have balanced features — none of it will look good on you. You’ll order something online, get it in the mail, look at yourself in the mirror and not recognize the oddly-shaped Picasso drawing staring back on you. And then you will realize that “trendy” things are simply built with the intention of not being worn by actual human beings, and things like high-waisted jumpers with rhinestone baby doll collars are some kind of a sick joke that was never intended to be released on civilians. It’s best to just give up on those pipe dreams now.
6. Sometimes friends just kind of… go away.
One minute, you are riding in a car with your hands out the window, turning to your best friend and saying something incredibly-cornball-yet-profound-at-the-time, such as “Man, we’re gonna miss this some day.” The next, that person moved to Portland about a year and a half ago and ever since they moved in with that weird guy with the white man dreads, they haven’t really been responding to your texts anymore. And it’s super sad, often just as much as the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Because unlike those relationships, you never had anything concrete holding the two of you together — you managed to fade completely out without even a kind of “breakup speech” to mark the end of it.
7. Email is going to be the bane of your existence.
Whether it’s trying not to look at your phone because you know it’s from your boss and it’s 11:30 on a Tuesday night and you are just not trying to deal with that right now, or it’s marking something as “unread” so you will DEFINITELY get back to it later only to never ever look at it again and completely ignore that person by accident, it sucks. They just pile up, and you have to deal with them, and sort out the spam, and respond to people on a timely basis, and keep checking it. It never ends. It just gets worse.
8. The strategy is always seeming busy.
Both in social and professional contexts, the key to doing well and being perceived as someone who is “going places” in that nebulous, vaguely Patrick Bateman-y way, is seeming busy. You’ve always got projects to do, personal errands to run, initiatives you’re spearheading, and fabulous events to attend. You can’t just reveal to the world that the vast majority of your time is spent looking for the perfect variety of cheese puff and looking up Hitler on Wikipedia. That shit is not for cool people. You have to be the person about whom friends and colleagues would say, “They’ve really got things together.” You can never let them know the real you. Never.