November 14, 2014

Of Becoming an Adult

Do you still remember those times when you're becoming an adult? Did you experience this? :

There was a time I spontaneously decided that I was ready to be a real adult. I don't know why I decided this; it always ended terribly for me. But I did it anyway. I sat myself down and told myself how I was going to start cleaning the house every day and paying bills on time and replying to emails before my inbox overloaded. Schedules were drafted. Day-planners were purchased. I stocked up on fancy food because I was also planning on morphing into a master chef and actually cooking instead of making instant noodles. I prepared for my new life as an adult like some people prepare for the apocalypse.

The first day or two of my plans went okay. 

For a little while, I actually felt grown-up and responsible. I strutted around with my head held high, looking the other responsible people in the eye with that knowing glance that said "I understand. I'm responsible now too. Just look at my groceries." At some point, I started feeling self-congratulatory.

This was a mistake. I began to feel like I've accomplished my goals.  It's like I think that adulthood's something that can be earned like a trophy in one monumental burst of effort and then admired and coveted for the rest of one's life. 

What usually ended up happening is that I completely wore myself out. Thinking that I've earned it, I gave myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I ended up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This was when the guilt-spiral starts.  

The longer I procrastinated on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I felt about it. The guilt I felt causes me to avoid the issue further, which only led to more guilt and more procrastination. It got to the point where I didn't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.  

Then the guilt from my ignored responsibilities grew so large that merely carrying it around with me felt like a huge responsibility. It took up a sizable portion of my capacity, leaving me almost completely useless for anything other than consuming instant noodles and surfing the internet. At some point in this endlessly spiraling disaster, I was forced to throw all of my energy into trying to be an adult again, just to dig myself out of the pit I'd fallen into. The problem was that I entered this round of attempted adulthood already burnt out from the last round. I can't not fail. 

It always ends the same way. Slumped and haggard, I contemplated the seemingly endless tasks ahead of me. And then I rebelled. Internet forever! LOL.

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