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Adulting’s the thing

/ 12:10 AM October 30, 2016

I parked on a small street and went to do an errand. I returned to the car and tried to crank the engine. It wouldn’t start. Again and again, the key simply wouldn’t turn. I was sweating and wondering if I should get the car towed, how much it would cost, and how I would get home.

I called my dad. Understandably, he was not pleased, but told me I had to wait because he was caught in traffic.

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I took out my phone out and googled “car won’t start.” Results came: “Don’t call a repairman. The only tool you need is a shoe.” I found what seemed to be the problem and followed the instructions. The key turned, and the engine started.

So this is adulting—googling yourself out of situations. Googling symptoms, home remedies, how to get all your government IDs, how to do your taxes.

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When I was in high school, I thought being an adult meant living on my own, away from my parents, going by my own rules. No more of my parents’ curfews. It’s my life! One day, I thought.

Fast-forward to a Friday night out with friends for which I didn’t have to ask my parents’ permission three working days earlier. I was now an independent working girl, feeling sexy and free and… terribly sleepy. It was 10 p.m. and I wanted to go to bed. Maybe my old curfew had not conditioned my body clock to 3 a.m. nights; maybe I was simply so worn out from the workweek.

So this is adulting—using your newfound freedom to save cash and catch up on sleep. Wanting to be spontaneous, but having to plan going out with friends a month in advance because everyone is too busy.

If earlier I had to convince my parents that I was truly struck with an illness that prevented me from completing perfect attendance in school, I found that the adult world had less remorse. Adulting is going to work, every day, despite fever, headache, cold, cough, tonsil removal, or hip replacement. Despite my mom telling me to stay home and rest, or my dad asking me twice if I’m sure I want to go. (Now they allow me to be absent.) Despite a torrential downpour and the MRT breaking down and the apocalypse coming, I just have to go to work.

My younger self was once excited about the idea of payday: Imagine all the clothes, makeup, coffee, and Potato Corner goodies I could buy! Imagine not having to be told by my parents that the Taylor Swift concert wasn’t “within the budget.” But I soon learned that adulting is delayed gratification. It is listing every single one of my expenses, setting my own budget, and making sure I have savings. I think twice, thrice, if I really need to get Giga fries instead of a smaller size. I think of getting insurance!

And then it’s giving in to impulse buys, like a meet-and-greet with my celebrity crush. (Yes, that’s within my budget, mom.)

Adulting is the dynamics changing between me and my parents. I used to agonize when my parents didn’t allow me to go out, leaving me with a major case of fomo (fear of missing out). Now, I find myself setting dates with my mom and cherishing talks with my dad. I consider my salary best spent on gifts I couldn’t get them before, and something I know they wouldn’t spend on because they’re saving for us kids. I have a much larger sense of respect for what they’ve been through, even if I still can’t imagine them feeling insecure about their path in life, as I do now.

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I wish I had known more about adulting before being shoved headfirst into it, catching my breath and desperately doggy-paddling to shore. In my fledgling understanding of it, I’ve learned that adulting is the last thing from having things figured out: It’s not really knowing much, but forcing yourself to make it work anyway because no one else will do it for me.

So this is adulting: giving myself a pat on the back, crying and learning from my mistakes, and having lots of wine (not necessarily in that order, and possibly all at the same time). I realize I am in a better place than I was before, and I am less alone than I think.

Adulting’s tough, but in the end, things will be okay.

Niña V. Guno, 24, works in a government agency and says she has been adulting for about a year.

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TAGS: adulting, growing up, life, millennial
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