As a practicing licensed adult, I have learned that adulthood is both a board game and a vacuum. There are spaces in one’s adult life that fill with problems, and apparently each problem area must be occupied. The sad thing about adulthood is that when you valiantly marshal your forces to address a problem, another problem emerges to fill the void. It’s almost as if adulthood is trying to teach you to avoid things? I don’t know. I do know the areas of the board game, however—and I will share them with you.
1. The six month problem.
Some stupid paperwork thing that you have to piece together and that draws out for at least six months but sometimes up to three years. Health insurance is a great focal point but the IRS is also good for this problem area.
Pro tip: Complain about this one loudly and in public because chances are you will receive good tips from strangers and friends.
2. The voicemail problem.
This sometimes overlaps with the six-month problem, and it requires an amazing amount of time pressing “1,” “4,” “7,” “4” and then starting over in a voicemail maze. It ends with you shouting “Customer service!” and maybe crying and pressing “0” frantically and keeping a list of how many times you’ve called. I don’t have Comcast but I’ve heard Comcast is a good one for this category.
Pro tip: only get on voicemail if you’re also doing something else at the same time like cooking or walking so you don’t feel like you’re wasting your day.
3. The obvious rip-off problem in which you wonder whether you might be part of a class-action lawsuit.
Advance purchases for music festivals that are cancelled due to shady circumstances and not refunded due to bankruptcy are a good example, as are mysterious charges on a phone or cable bill.
Pro-tip: Fill out the postcard if you get one and forget about it. Stupid class action lawsuits will result in a demoralizing check for $7.42 at most.
4. The tiny catastrophe problem.
This is something small that you know is small but for some reason is the thing that starts your psychic avalanche, partly because you know it’s such a first-world stupid thing, but it makes you lose your shit. Examples might be running out of ziploc bags, stepping in dog shit, or getting a cold with fever when you have too much work to do.
Pro-tip: You’re unhinged and you need to attend to this because if you don’t you will be nonfunctional. Stop telling yourself this is a first world problem and drink some juice. Then start telling yourself you’re overwhelmed, because it sounds like you are.
5. The molehill you’re making into a mountain.
This is different than the tiny catastrophe in that you don’t realize this one is tiny. It seems huge and unwieldy but it’s not a big deal. Examples include doing your taxes or a weird lump.
Pro-tip: Do one thing toward the goal–like dump your receipts on the table and look at one. Make an excel spreadsheet. Put a laundry basket over the mess of receipts so your cat doesn’t build a nest in them. Walk away. For the lump, put some antibiotic ointment on it. If not gone in 24 hours, call doctor. Celebrate: You’ve made progress! That’s the only way to deal with the molehill.
6. Nameless dread.
You’re actually dreading something but you don’t know what it is or don’t want to admit it. Soul-sucking.
Pro-tip: Therapy or long walks to figure that shit out. Either you’re a dread-y person (as I am) or there’s a dread focal point. Both of these dilemmas require not lists but separate books. If the dread involves an impending real global catastrophe, congratulate yourself with the fact that at least you’re informed and keeping up with the news and have a 40% chance of being right. Send $20 to an organization fighting said problem. Then seek help or take up a craft project.
7. Dread Personified.
This is the person at work in a position above you or in an area of politics or social power who terrifies you or who just looks at you weird and makes you worry they have it in for you personally or that they might eliminate your entire division if pissed off.
Pro-tip: Compare notes with others to establish whether the dreaded is actually a threat. Don’t let Dread Personified fester alone. If possible, allowing others to make fun of you for your dread will alleviate the sense of threat.
8. Fix-it or Fuck-it.
This is that thing you have to fix but you’re afraid to even go into it because it might be really expensive or difficult. Examples include things broken in your living situation, your roof, your relationship, your health, or your car.
Pro-tip: Try number 5 first to see if it’s a molehill. Repeat. If this doesn’t work, consider the fact that this shit is going to blow up and there’s nothing you can do about it. Console yourself with the thought that these explosions make you an adult but not a bad person. Some explosions really are unavoidable, and the bullshit about acting prudently in advance to head off a crisis does not mean that every crisis can be averted. I’m sorry about that.