Hey, Kids! And by kids I mean 20-, 30- and 40-something folks who have no idea how to be an adult. Are you feeling blue? Are you coming to the sweeping realization that those dreams you were so sure you’d reach are creeping further and further away? Are you filled with the inevitable existential dread that you are, in fact, not going to live up to anyone’s expectations, much less your own? Are you stuck? Worse, are you going in reverse?
There is help! As an expert on actively being less accomplished with each passing day, I have mastered the art of picking myself up by my frayed bootstraps more times than I can count. And I do this as a pessimist, no less! How do I manage to put one foot in front of the other, you ask? It’s a simple 5-step plan:
Step 1: You cry. You let those baby tears run down your face and you wallow in your own self-pity. This is no time for rational thinking or owning your mistakes. This is when you get to rave against everyone and everything that’s done you wrong. The Baby Boomers who ruined it for the rest of us, while they got theirs. The corporate overlords who cackle with glee as they bathe in the dollar bills they refuse to give you. The trite advice parents, teachers, well-meaning acquaintances and Deepak Chopra have told you over the years about how if you just try a little harder, longer and with a goddamn smile on your face, you too will make it.
Step 2: You take advantage of the few awesome benefits of adulting. This usually means spending your money on a vice: alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, online shopping at 4am. You buy a bus ticket to anywhere because you don’t have to get home by curfew. You open up a bottle of wine, make out with the bad news bartender, lounge in a bathtub for 5 hours. You actually Netflix and chill so much your eyes are the same red as the brand’s. This all leads to a numbing of the pain. Now that you are sufficiently dead inside you can move on to step 3.
Step 3: You cut the drama and you remember that you have choices. This is actually the hardest part because parading around with an aura of tragedy is infinitely more entertaining than simple mediocrity. This is where you take a long look into your soul, sing “Maybe This Time” at full volume, and really accept that certain elements in your life no longer have their use. A job. A boyfriend. An addiction to opiates. (Kidding, you really need to see a professional about that one.) You squash the little head in your voice that tells you “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t” by yelling at them that the fucked up line has been used to support evils like dictatorships and criminal enterprises.
Step 4: You steal all the office supplies you can to map out your new life. Don’t think about it. Don’t make a vision board. Don’t refresh the Susan Miller page. Instead, you get down on your hands and knees and literally write down every single step you need to achieve your goal, when you can fit it into your schedule, and by what deadline. Lick the paper for your first taste of freedom.
Step 5: Repeat. This cycle will never end. Everyone feels like an impostor. It’s true. The older I get, the more I realize the dirty little secret that adults kept from us when we were growing up. No one knows what the hell they’re doing. Take comfort in our collective incompetence.