Technically you become an adult at 18. You’re allowed to do most things like joining the military, get married, and for all real purposes, you’re officially an adult (except for drinking. Not allowed to do that in the US until you’re 21). There are so many things I wish I knew before then.
But there’s a time period between 18 and your mid to late 20s where you’re not a real adult just yet. You don’t have the experiences that drain your soul, you don’t have the worries and the problems that come with the experience of being just a few years older.
I wish I had known quite a few things when I was younger so I could have set myself up for a better today. I don’t necessarily regret the things I did when I was younger, because those choices have made me who I am today, but I do wish I would have been a bit more responsible.
So here are a few things I wish I would have known before I became a “real” adult.
Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Real Adult
When I was younger, especially in my college years, I wasn’t as prepared for real life as I could have been. Growing up I wasn’t taught some life skills like saving, budgeting, and things related to finances that could have really helped me out.
I also learned first hand how addiction works and how that can effect the rest of my life, an discovered a few things about myself I didn’t know before.
Keep Track of Your Finances
I tend to write about this a decent amount for a blog that’s more dedicated to self care and personal development. That’s because a lot of my regrets, if you can really call them regrets, is that I wish I was more responsible with the money I had.
I had a unique situation as a college student and young adult. When I was about 6 years old I was bit by a dog… in the face… and I wasn’t the first person the dog had bit. The settlement from that case is what helped me through college and payed for just about all of it except my final semester my senior year.
Needless to say, I had access to more money than I should have had.
I wasn’t frivolous with the money, but I did spend a bit more than I should have. I didn’t keep track of what I was spending, whether I should have been spending that money in the first place, and how much I needed to save to have some left over when college was done with.
Even if you don’t have settlement money sitting in the bank, making sure you know how finances work, how to save, how to keep track of your spending, and making sure you come out at the end of the month in the positive or at the very least equal to your income are huge skills you should have.
Addictions are Real
It wasn’t like I didn’t think they were real, I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Which is funny because I have an addictive personality and knew that based on my eating disorder issues that were at their peak during the end of high school and the beginning of my college career.
But I wish I would have been able to take the limited advice I had gotten about stopping drinking way before it got to a point that I actually do regret. I wish that night had never happened and it’s a traumatic event I never wish on anyone else, but it’s also brought me to the path I’m on today, and I can’t deny that.
I wish I would have listened to some of the people who were concerned with my drinking back in college. I was one to go to parties on the Friday night and barely remember anything regarding the few nights on Sunday morning.
If you or someone you know is dealing with an addictive substance of any kind, or even something like addictive habits or traits, please consider doing some deep thinking about how this might affect you in the long run.
Related: Let’s Talk About Addictions: Alcohol
Rent will be the Death of your Paycheck
There’s a reason I’m 30 and still living with roommates. Paying rent will make your paycheck cry. I don’t care what personal finance blogs try to say, depending on where you live, you could be paying upwards of 50% of your monthly pay towards your rent.
You might feel like crap because you have to either live with roommates or reluctantly give away a large chunk just so you have a roof over your head. It won’t be until you have a better paying job, move to a lower cost of living area, or both for you to be able to afford a place you want to live in instead of one you can just afford.
Personally, when I’m apartment hunting I take into consideration the location of the apartment in regards to both my workplace as well as the crime in the area. I am more than willing to shell out a bit more money to make sure my car isn’t broken into… again.
Getting Sick on Your Own is Terrible
As someone who has been sick most of my childhood, I thought I had a handle on what it was like to be sick.
Boy was I wrong.
The first time you’re really, truly sick on your own, away from your parents, and you have to fend for yourself, is going to suck.
I had a really bad stomach flu last year. It landed me in the emergency room because I was so dehydrated my blood pressure dropped. I couldn’t hold down water and I had to visit the adult diaper section of the pharmacy for the first time in my life. It was not a pretty experience.
But I was truly alone. I live states away from my parents and there was no one to help me through the basics like filling my water bottle, grabbing me the garbage can to throw up in, or making food once I got better.
You’re going to feel like death but you’re going to have to plow through that to care for yourself. You can’t just let yourself lay in bed and wither away.
You’re Going to Have to Be There for Yourself
Depending on where you’re living and if you’re near friends and family, you may very well have to fend for yourself when you’re in dire need of another person.
This could be a trauma you aren’t ready to share with the world, a personal problem you don’t want to burden others with, or whatever else that could go wrong. Sometimes you either won’t have to don’t want to have another person to confide in.
You’re going to have to be there for yourself and comfort yourself when you may not be in the best states.
This is going to be hard, and I would like to say you should have at least a friend to confide in during your times of need, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes you have to get yourself through the problem on your own before you can talk to someone else about it.
I went through a trauma almost 6 years ago. While someone I lived with knew what happened, they weren’t exactly helpful in the comforting department. Not everyone is meant to be that person. I had to learnt to deal with the pain of this trauma little by little, day by day.
I had to learn to be there for myself, to talk myself out of the thoughts that came up from the trauma. It took a while but I told a good friend what had happened and then eventually my therapist and I was able to mostly work through the issues that came with it.
Loss Still Hurts
You’d think that by the time you made it to your adulthood you would have had heartbreak and loss under some sort of control. You might have gone through all that before and feel like you know what’s coming.
I’m here to tell you that you never get used to heartbreak. You never get used to losing someone you love to whatever reason it is.
This also works with family as well. The older you get, the more common losing family can become.
No one is ready to lose a parent, but the realities start to hit home the older you get.
I’ve been thinking about this for years now. I’ve been expecting it based on the life choices my parents made and continue to make. But even with all the planning in the world, nothing is going to prepare you for when that happens.
Money Will Run Your Life, But Remember to Take a Break
Money is the one thing that keeps the world going. It buys our food, pays our bills, keeps a roof over our head, etc. You may even eventually fall into the zombie-like state of going to work, coming home, and repeating.
While working for money is great and all, you have to remember to take breaks from it every now and then.
When I had my first job I was petrified to take days off. Some days I still am, but especially at my first job. I didn’t want to be seen as a slacker or taking too many vacation days in a row.
But needing mental health days, or needing a full on vacation is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what you have your time off for. You have it to use it, so use it. You may not even be able to keep it all if you hoard your time off.
Living life as an adult isn’t always smooth sailing, but you can still enjoy it. Hopefully with this post you’re aware of more of the things that you have to expect in life. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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