You’re told your whole life that growing up is hard. As a kid, you cry uncontrollably when your mom and dad leave you at school that first day. Separation anxiety. Then puberty arrives some years later, and it is gross, and you’re going to look like the worst cartoon version of yourself. For me, it was a mixture of Pepper Ann and the little kid from Jerry Maguire.
Middle and high school will be the worst, and you’ll find that anyone who disagrees with this statement are the people in school you will inevitably hate or will hate you. College is better. But then it ends and you graduate and you’re left with a dull, hollow ache for your shiny, consequence-free, albeit loan-burdened and calorie-filled life. This might be the hardest transition of all. But when does the growing up stop? It certainly doesn’t stop after college, when you get your first job, or even your second. No, it doesn’t stop. I think it gets harder — you stagnate in a weird purgatory between “kid” and “adult.” There are, however, things you can do to ease the transition. Here are some of my ideas:
1. Try to stop being such a flake.
In my heart, I am the Beyoncé of breaking plans. The Queen B. The HBIC. I know it’s the worst thing, but often I will make plans with someone and they sound so great, theoretically, but then the day of said plans arrives and I want nothing more than to go home, take off my bra, and marathon-watch Pretty Little Liars while maybe attempting to give myself a pedicure. Living in the city is hard, and exhausting, and while a lot of dinners, happy hours, and movie dates seem appealing in your head, when the time comes around to deliver, it’s just too easy to feign an illness. People say you’re officially a New Yorker when you give your first accurate subway directions. Wrong. You’re officially a New Yorker when you break your first brunch plans. However, some of the best times I’ve had in the city have been on nights where I would have rather caught the disease from Contagion than put on makeup and brave the outside world. Sometimes, being a grown-up means forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. Sure, some of the times you’ll end up feeling all you did was waste a good hair day, but mostly, you will never regret the time you went out and did something instead of going full Grey Gardens in your apartment.
2. Hide your stuffed animals, for the love of god.
I get really confident sometimes and I start to think that my transition into full-blown adulthood is complete, usually when I pay bills on time or when I do something with my hair besides putting it into a ponytail. This is a farce. Because all it takes is one glance at my bed and my Penn State Pillow Pet perched on top of my comforter to realize that I’m essentially a five year old parading around in a Zara dress. I am going to say it — I’m theoretically okay with having a stuffed animal. Hell, even Dan from Gossip Girl had Cedric the Cabbage Patch Doll. I would maybe draw the line at a plush menagerie, but I feel like it’s okay to want to snuggle with a cuddly toy even as an adult if you follow the cardinal rule of stuffed animal-ownership: Hide that shit when someone comes over. It is embarrassing, and if you’re already snuggling with a giant-ass panda, there won’t be enough room for a person to snuggle with you. It’s science.
3. Embrace nostalgia.
The important thing to remember, even as you’re on your work grind, is that it’s essential to maintain a shred of your youth for sanity’s sake. Nostalgia is important, and it usually makes people happy, if not a teeny bit wistful. For me, nostalgia means listening to boy bands. My love of boy bands is heady and everlasting, and I am not ashamed. Of course, there are the basics — N*Sync, BSB, 98 Degrees. I have an entire belief system surrounding the boy bands of my halcyon days, and I really believe that your appreciation of boy bands has the capacity to translate into adulthood in interesting ways. For example, if your favorite N*Sync member was Justin, congratulations, you have been basic since childhood and probably still are (JC forever). Ditto for Nick Carter of BSB (Brian Littrell, hi boo). Nick is the guy you date when you’re 22 who “doesn’t really like books, but reads a lot of magazines” and will never commit because he “has a lot of stuff going on right now” and all of your friends hate him. Mrs. Taylor Hanson was written in all of my Lisa Frank folders, and if I still had Lisa Frank folders, which you bet your ass I wish I did, I am pretty sure it would still be written there even though he is now married and has legitimately 72 children. I still swoon over LFO, 5ive (which has always bothered me, because in reality, their band name is “Five-ive,” phonetically speaking), 2Gether, and BBMac. Also, Chris Kirkpatrick LOL.
4. Babies are going to be around you. Deal with it.
Babies are cute, I guess, but when it’s 9AM on the R Train and you’re just trying to get to work without drooling on the shoulder of the nice man next to you, there is actually nothing worse than a shrill, screaming baby. I mean, it’s the morning, we get it, we all want to cry. However, as mid-20-somethings, we’ve reached the zenith of everyone getting engaged and popping out babies seemingly two days later. I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon as some of my friends are starting to have children and that is that everyone LOVES when you hold their baby. “Hold the baby!” they say, offering the tiny human in your general direction. This gives me more anxiety than when my cab driver asks me for directions to Queens. The truth is, I don’t want to hold your baby. I have NEVER wanted to hold your baby, not even when I was young enough to be qualified as a baby myself. I don’t know how to do it right, its poor little head will probably not be supported enough, or it’ll vom on me and then I’ll have to go out and buy a new $8 shirt from Forever 21. I am not the President, or a celebrity. I don’t need a photo op with your infant. However, people generally like when you act like babies are a thing that you like. So just hold the baby, slap a smile on your face, and make a cute noise in its general direction. Or, if all else fails, get out of it by pretending that you have a cold.
5. Get used to sleeping in the dark.
It is beyond strange to me that there are people that can manage to fall asleep without a blanking shrouding their body. When I was little, I was deathly afraid of the dark due to watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? and guess what, the answer is yes, I still am. But sleeping with a nightlight is weird and also you know we’re ALL broke, so you’re going to need to figure out the grown up way to deal with this. I have found that something about a blanket burrito wrapped around me before I fall asleep is comforting and makes me feel secure. It’s the only way I can fall asleep. When it’s hot, I allow myself permission to stick exactly one leg or one arm outside of my blanket fortress, but if I feel any sort of tickle, you better believe that limb is going right back where it came from.
6. Work out occasionally.
I want you to try this the next time you go to the gym and want to elliptical yourself into a slow, painful death. As you are struggling to cycle one foot in front of the other, and can only think about your best friend Netflix waiting for your return home, I encourage you to create a fantasy world in your head. It’s the best motivator for a long and productive workout. Lately, mine has been rolling up to a club with a celebrity, only to run into my ex-boyfriend, who is dating a swamp creature. and rubbing it in his face. The celebrity can be anyone — Is Ryan Gosling your jam? Forget Eva Mendes exists. Does Benedict Cumberbatch do it for you? You stroll right into that stately members-only parlor and you show your ex what he’s missing. Do you pine over Adam Levine? That’s gross. As of late, my celebrity infatuation has been Ansel Elgort, from Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, because as we’ve established, I am mentally a teenage girl. No matter. By the time your fantasy scenario has run its course, you will have burned 620 calories, and you can go home. You’re an adult who takes good care of your body, your temple! You’re welcome.
7. Most importantly, thou shalt take naps.
Naps are the best thing and people who don’t nap probably also hate every other great thing, like Harry Potter, cheese, and sunlight. You will never regret a nap you took, but you will ALWAYS regret the naps you didn’t take. It’s a fact of life.