When I was little, I was excited about the prospect of adult life. I envisaged a whole world of adventure and possibility, no bed time and no one around to tell you what to do. Adults seem like they have their shit together. Things make sense to them and they know about stuff and, as a kid, I wanted some of that for myself. Being a kid is tough. No one takes you seriously, you have to do what people tell you and and you’re really small so there are many things you need help with, like opening impossible crisp packets and the vexing task of tying your shoelaces. Plus you have to go to school, which, for me, anyway, was a confusing, terrible place that felt like a twelve-year prison sentence. So I longed for the day I could burn my school uniform and do what I wanted in the world of grown-ups.
I don’t know why, but my parents gave me a toy ironing board and plastic iron when I was probably five or so. I also had a mini broom, dustpan and brush, and a little wooden oven/cooker that my Dad made (an impressive feat, to be fair). Perhaps I wanted these things and I begged my parents in that annoying way children do, although now when I think back it seems weird for a child to be pretending to do what are essentially chores. The ironic part of this thinly veiled self-indulgent digression is that these days I can’t stand doing the fucking ironing and I avoid it at all costs. I go as far as buying clothes that don’t need this unnecessary extra step in the already tedious laundry cycle, because why would anyone want to waste precious time flattening clothes that will be crinkly again in five minutes?
Nonetheless, I’ve been an ‘adult’ for some time now, and I’ve come to the realisation that life as a grown-up is nothing like how I expected it to be. Most of it is incredibly boring. Let’s explore, shall we? As an adult you have to:
- Deal with the permanent Everest of washing up. This mysterious heap of dirty dishes keeps growing even when there’s no one at home, because used plates and cutlery have the ability to clone themselves much like bacteria cells
- Write long, formal emails, often of a complaining nature, to dry, irksome institutions such as your bank, HM Revenue and Customs, British Telecom, and shit companies that had ONE JOB yet still managed to fudge it up. Writing complaint emails always takes way longer than it should and dealing with complaints is stressful, which is why many adults understandably don’t bother with the complaint in the first place. If everything just worked properly, no one would have to go through this lunacy and everyone would be happier and have more time for other, less frustrating tasks
- Decide what to have for dinner… again. I have approximately nine meals that I make for myself regularly, but they are quickly exhausted and I get stuck in the loop of boring meals that I don’t really want but I’ll eat because I need food for, you know, the sustaining of life. Takeaway is fun in the same way that receiving parcels in the post is fun; you know what it is and you used your own money to purchase it, but it still feels a little bit like Christmas. Although, one time I lived really close to a takeaway, and everyone in my household became increasingly fat and lazy to the point where we would order food to the house online so that we didn’t have to talk to anyone or walk the literal five minutes to the restaurant to pick it up. What a time to be alive
- Drive around in traffic, which has to be the most aggressive display of passive aggression in human existence as everyone fights to get wherever they’re going first by any means necessary. Concepts of sportsmanship and altruism go out of the window to lie discarded among loose chippings and bits of rubber at the side of the road as soon as many adults step into their vehicle
- Grocery shopping. Wrestling an out-of-control trolley around the supermarket and choosing food to buy for my nine boring meals is so eye-wateringly tedious that I refuse to make a separate trip out for it and have to do it on the way home from something else. This task must be completed as quickly as possible, and if I don’t make a list I’ll come home with one packet of biscuits and some coat hangers because all memory, logic and ability to think clearly disappear when I step into those flourescent-lit aisles of bewildering product choice
- You have to chase people for stuff. As a kid, chasing people denotes fun and that thrilling fear–excitement that reverberates through your being when you try to escape your faster older sibling in a brave but ultimately foolish act of derring-do. But as an adult you chase people for things like money they owe you or stuff you lent them or work that should have been finished yesterday or for a response to your email of complaint
- Not only do adults have to work, usually doing a job that really isn’t very fun or interesting, but they have to spend their hard-earned cash on things that no one actually wants to buy. Stuff like toilet cleaner and bed sheets and clothes to wear to work and secret Santa gifts for people at work who you only tolerate because you have to work with them
- Speaking of money, where does it go? No one knows. All we know is that there definitely should be more money in our bank accounts than this
- Clean the oven. I mean, is there actually anything in life more laborious than scraping baked-on charcoal at an awkward angle from the inside of a poorly-lit box. Oh, wait, I forgot about de-icing the freezer. Chiseling ice from the freezer with an implement that was never intended to be used to chisel ice is much the same as cleaning the oven but colder and involves the infuriating ordeal of stepping in freezing puddles of water with socks on
- Feel tired no matter how much or how little sleep you get
- And lastly, as an adult you have to try to fit in. I don’t feel I was properly warned about the whole code of conduct that comes with being an adult. It is complicated, confusing, nuanced and often extremely dull, like small talk, for example. Everyone still has that little kid inside, but for some reason we have to suppress him or her in the adult world and replace childish enthusiasm with a more subdued approach to living, which is both boring and sad
If this reflection on life beyond childhood seems unrelentingly depressing, let me remind you of the single most excellent thing about being a grown-up:
Cereal for dinner.
Can I get a high–five or something?
It might not be the most nutritious meal, but who’s gunna stop me? The dinner police?
I think I still have that childish curiosity and sense of light-hearted fun, much to the puzzled amusement of others. But that’s the reason I’m able to write and do creative things; I never lost the active imagination of my six-year-old self. We in the adult world could all do with being less serious, myself included. The daily grind can throttle your childhood dreams and ambitions, responsibilities pile up and, before you know it, you’re stuck in miserable grey corporate land with seemingly no escape. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Do something childish today. Allow yourself to feel really excited about something; anything! Dance around your room with no self-consciousness. Daydream. Draw something. And definitely, absolutely unashamedly have cereal for dinner.