While I’m sure that my driving instructor was holding her breath as a bus drove towards us, I flicked up my indicators to turn right and the realisation of who and where I was came over me. Twenty-two years old, working two jobs, nearing my final year at University, finally learning how to drive and barely having my act together- yet, I was ‘adulting’ as best as I could.
I’ve read many witty and quirky articles at the back sections of various magazines depicting the woes of those in their early 20s embarking on adulthood awkwardly and/or with their eyes shut.
I may have sat snorting with laughter when reading such articles, but it isn’t funny beyond those glossy pages. There are so many things between the lines of those articles that no one can ever tell you about because everyone’s story is different and more so, after the gates of your teens are shut behind you and you get pushed out of the proverbial nest of your comfort zone.
Firstly, imagine having to pick the career you want to do for the REST of your life. Easy, right? You choose what you love, study, get a job and get paid for it. Then, you live happily ever after doing what you love. Oh, honey, it isn’t that easy, unfortunately. I spoke to a friend the other day and he just finished his degree in Information technology and guess what? He doesn’t want to work in that field so he starting all over. I know that that sounds like a nightmare, but it’s very common.
I studied Psychology for two years before I started studying journalism and for a while, I was angry at myself for wasting my time, but looking back, I don’t regret my detour, because it aided in my growth.
Straight out of high school, I was only eighteen-years-old, so studying Psychology was great because I learnt so much about myself as it made me look deeper and to see things, people and most importantly, myself better. I honestly think that the only bad outcome was that sometimes, I still diagnose people in my head…but other than that I have no regrets.
So, you see, ending up in your ideal career and where you’re meant to be takes time, lots of time and what they don’t tell you is that you’ll need to come prepared with plan A-Z and endless patience on the road to discovering yourself. If you take a bit longer that others making your way across the map, don’t become negative, your journey is just different.
One thing that you’ll have to become accustomed to are many job interviews and being asked, “ Why do you want to work for us?” , many, many times. And, no, “because I need money…” is not an acceptable response.
Speaking of money, you will learn to budget, by choice or by default. You will eventually learn that R300 means ‘monthly train ticket’ and not ‘partying or social money’. Some of us will learn later than others…A friend of mine firmly believes that banks are not to be trusted, so he puts any money that he makes in a cardboard box…Each to his or her own, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with a savings account, friends.
OK, so this may be a ‘first-world’ problem but many of us were so used to being chauffeured around in our teens that we’ve never thought beyond the warmth of our parent’s cars or the breezy air-conditioning. Going from that to jumping into a train (that’s been delayed for a hour of course), then into a taxi or bus is depressing, but at one point or the other, until you can afford to use your Uber app or a car…shame, you will have to jump into any means of public transport.
On the upside, if you don’t eat too much junk food, (which you probably won’t be able to afford anyway), you will at least be able to fight the early twenties weight gain, with all the running and walking. That’s about the only public transport upside I can think about besides the fact that it gives you a sense of independence and teaches you time-keeping ( thanks, Metro rail). Also, if you can afford to, going for your learner’s license and drivers license ASAP is a great idea, don’t wait as long as I did, if possible.
Now, let’s move on to relationships. When I say relationships, I don’t necessarily mean ‘boy-girl’, because even your friendships are complicated, very complicated from here on out. The best friends to have during this period and onward though are those who can understand that you have a life, they have a life, and that life goes on. We all need a little reassurance from our significant others, but really, no one has the time while they’re stumbling through life to remind someone that they care 24/7.
Actions speaks louder than words, someone doesn’t have to tell you how they feel all the time if they are constantly showing you that they do.
‘ I got one less problem without ya.’
OK on to men and women…let’s this put it this way ladies, if you’re sitting around wondering if he likes you- he doesn’t like you. If you are close in proximity and you’ve been pining over him for months and he hasn’t asked you out- he doesn’t like you. If you’ve read all his texts to your sister (No, I haven’t done this) to try and decipher whether he likes you- he doesn’t like you.
He’s just not that into you, but hey, statistically speaking, you probably met your future ‘person’ already’, so don’t be sad, what is key is patience in the heart tug-‘o-war.
To the guys, if she doesn’t respond to your texts, she doesn’t like you. If you get anything shorter than a paragraph in response- she doesn’t like you. If she says she doesn’t like you, I promise it’s not playing hard to get, she doesn’t like you. All that I’ve said may sound mean, but hey, no one told me these things and I wasted lots of time with ‘crushes of my life’ for no reason at all. ( this is just touching base, signs could be different)
Lastly, sleep. Sleep will become a magical world and space where you get to reboot and shut out the scary world for a while. Mind you, it will become even more magical than a night out with your friends slowly but surely and the introvert in you will pay a visit!
If you have a question, you will learn that Google and YouTube is your best friend. You can literally read lifestyle blog after lifestyle blog and yell, ‘ OK Google’ for just about anything. You will learn that Googling is the ‘how to’ manual of adult life. Google and strong coffee.
Overall, learning to ‘adult’ is a process which takes time.
One day you’ll be watching reruns of SpongeBob Squarepants and tweeting about ending 2015 as a ‘Belieber’ and the next; you’ll be standing in line paying your monthly clothing account payment. It all takes a little time, no need to rush.
My twenties has been heaven and hell so far and as I sit on this pillow in the driver’s seat because I’m too short to reach the steering wheel, the realisation that I’m actually driving and learning in this scary journey called life, is more important than how many lessons it’s going to take me.
Good luck, to those embarking on this journey and to those who’ve still to come. And please, wish me luck too, I really need it.