+
upworthy

adulthood

via PixaBay

Being an adult is tough.

Nothing can ever fully prepare you for being an adult. Once you leave childhood behind, the responsibilities, let-downs and setbacks come at you fast. It’s tiring and expensive, and there's no easy-to-follow roadmap for happiness and success.

A Reddit user named u/Frequent-Pilot5243 asked the online forum, “What’s an adult problem nobody prepared you for?” and there were a lot of profound answers that get to the heart of the disappointing side of being an adult.

One theme that ran through many responses is the feeling of being set adrift. When you’re a kid, the world is laid out as a series of accomplishments. You learn to walk, you figure out how to use the bathroom, you start school, you finish school, maybe you go to college, and so on.


However, once we’re out of the school system and out from under our parents’ roofs, there is a vast, complicated world out there and it takes a long time to learn how it works. The tough thing is that if you don’t get a good head start, you can spend the rest of your life playing catch-up.

Then, you hit middle age and realize that life is short and time is only moving faster.

Adulthood also blindsides a lot of people because we realize that many adults are simply children who grew older. The adult world is a lot more like high school than a teenager could ever imagine.

The Reddit thread may seem a bit depressing at first, but there are a lot of great lessons that younger people can take to heart. The posts will also make older people feel a lot better because they can totally relate.

Being an adult is hard, exhausting and expensive. But we’re all in this together and by sharing the lessons we’ve learned we can help lighten each other's load just a bit.

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses to the question: “What is an adult problem nobody prepared you for?”

1. Lack of purpose

"Lack of purpose. All your young life you are given purpose of passing exams and learning, then all of a sudden you are thrown into the world and told to find your own meaning," — Captain_Snow.

2. No bed time

"You can stay up as late as you want. But you shouldn't," — geek-fit

3. Friendships

"Where did all my friends go?" — I_Love_Small_Breasts

Most of them are at the same place as you are ... Probably wondering the same thing," — Blackdraon003

4. Bodily changes

"I'm closer to fifty than forty, would have been nice to be better prepared for some of the ways your body starts to change at this point that don't normally get talked about. For instance your teeth will start to shift from general aging of your gums," — dayburner.

5. People don't change

"Didnt know that other adults have the emotional intelligence of teenagers and its almost impossible to deal with logically," — Super-Progress-6386

6. Money

"$5K is a lot to owe, but not a lot to have," — Upper-Job5130

7. Our parents age, too

"Handling the decline and death of your parents," - Agave666

8. Free time

"Not having a lot of free-time or time by myself," — detective_kiara

9. No goals

"Not having a pre-defined goal once I was out of college. Growing up my goals were set for me: get through elementary school! then middle school! Then high school, and get into college and get a degree, then get a job, and then...? Vague "advance in your career, buy a house, find a spouse, have a kid or multiple, then retire." At 22 I had no idea how to break that down more granularly," — FreehandBirdlime

10. Constant upkeep

"Life is all about maintenance. Your body, your house, your relationships, everything requires constant never ending maintenance," — IHateEditedBGMusic

11. Exhaustion

"Being able to do so many things because I'm an adult but too tired to do any of them," — London82

12. Loneliness

"Being an adult feels extremely lonely," — Bluebloop0

13. Dinner

"Having to make dinner every. Fucking. Day," — EndlesslyUnfinished

14. Time changes

"The more life you’ve lived, the faster time seems to go," — FadedQuill

15. You're responsibile, even if you didn't mean it

"You are held to account for bad behaviour for which you are negligent even if you had no intention to cause harm. As a lawyer, I see this all the time. People don't think they're responsible for mistakes. You are," — grishamlaw

16. Work is like high school

"The intricacies of workplace politics," — Steve_Lobsen writes. "

"When you're in school, you think that you won't have to deal with gossiping and bullying once you leave school. Unfortunately, that is not true," — lady_laughs_too_much

17. Nowhere to turn

"How easy it is to feel stuck in a bad situation (job, relationship, etc) just because the cost and effort of getting out can seem daunting. And sometimes you just have to accept a figurative bowl full of shit because you can't afford to blow up your life," — movieguy95453

18. The happiness question

"Figuring out what makes you happy. Everyone keeps trying to get you to do things you're good at, or that makes you money, but never to pursue what you enjoy," — eternalwanderer5

19. Constant cleaning

"The kitchen is always dirty. You’ll clean it at least three times every day," — cewnc

20. Life costs money

"One adult problem nobody prepared me for is how expensive everything is. I always thought that as an adult I would be able to afford the things I wanted, but it turns out that's not always the case! I've had to learn how to budget and save up for the things I want, and it's been a difficult process," — Dull_Dog_8126

21. Keeping above water

"All of it together. I was relatively warned about how high rent is, car bills and repairs, how buying healthy food is expensive as hell but important for your health, how to exercise and save what you can, my parents did their best to fill in my knowledge about taxes and healthcare and insurance that my schooling missed, about driving and cleaning a household, about setting boundaries at work but working hard and getting ahead if you can, about charity and what it means to take care of a pet and others, about being a good partner if you were lucky enough to have one, about how dark and messed up the world is when you just read the news and what all that means to me and my community… I was reasonably warned about all of it.

"No one could have ever prepared me for how hard doing all of it at the same time and keeping your head above that water would actually be," — ThatNoNameWriter


This article originally appeared on 01.28.22

Sarah Thorne knew her dad had only wanted one thing for the past eight years: a pair of light-up sneakers.

You know, the kind that blink every time you take a step? You may remember them from the hallways of your elementary school.

GIF from Famous Footwear


The only thing stopping her dad from getting a pair of his own was his assumption that light-up shoes were designed exclusively for kids.

So when Thorne found a pair of adult-sized light up sneakers, she had the camera rolling to capture her dad's reaction when he opened them on his birthday.

GIFs via Storyful/YouTube.

After a brief moment of confusion, he squeezed the heel and those bad boys lit right up and...

...her dad leapt out of his seat with surprise and delight.

When's the last time you felt this level of pure, childlike happiness?  

Most of us are barely out of high school when the world starts slapping us in the face with adultness. Our favorite childhood foods start to taste bland, our favorite bands from fifth grade sound like whiney strangers with guitars, the shows and movies we once found inspiring start to lose their shine in the hindsight of adulthood and real life experiences.

We have to deal with things like paying taxes, and getting jobs, and being adults who have bills and responsibilities. We have to deal with "the Mondays" and people who say "the Mondays."

In short, sometimes it can feel like adulthood means smiling less; we start to take little joys for granted.

Moments like the one Sarah Thorne captured with her dad are proof that pure joy has no age.

You're never too old to be delighted by something small and silly. In fact, those small, silly things can sometimes be the most important — because they can brighten your day when you need it most.

Plus, light-up sneakers are awesome. Always.

Watch the full video here:

More

Science found 4 categories of independence in young adults. Where do you belong?

More young people than ever are living with their families. But does that make them less independent?

For about four months last year, I needed to live with my family.

A month after I turned 26, my housing plans fell apart. Suddenly, I found myself living in Seattle with few resources and nowhere to go.


Couch-surfing might not seem so bad at first, but talk to me again after a week, mister. Photo from iStock.

I tried couch-surfing for about a month. I'd stay for a week at one friend's house, then for a few days at another.

But it soon became apparent that I needed a long-term solution. So I asked a nearby family member, my aunt, if I could stay with her.

Don't get me wrong — I love my family. But the whole experience kind of messed with my head.

What did living with my family say about me? I had recently earned a master's degree, and people kept calling me successful — but I didn't feel successful. Could I call myself an independent adult if I wasn't living on my own?

Also, where did this beanie and scarf come from? Photo from iStock.

That's how I fell into a rut of looking at independence as a "yes" or "no" thing.

I felt like living on my own was independent, and living with my family was not. But the truth is that it's not a yes or no thing at all.

In fact, a recent study showed that for most young people today, independence has become a lot more nuanced than it was in the past.

North Carolina State University sociology professor Anna Manzoni analyzed data about the lives of more than 14,000 Americans age 18-25.

She measured the idea of independence in a few different ways: by whether the subject had their own living space, by asking them to record their earnings and whether they got financial support from their parents, and by considering their own perceptions of independence and adulthood.

Most young people can be roughly split into four different, nearly evenly split groups of independence.

Only about 28% of the people she surveyed were classified as fully independent — people who lived by themselves, didn't receive support from their families, and personally felt independent.

On the other extreme, only 23% were more or less dependent. They lived with their parents, received financial support, and thought of themselves as dependent.

In between those two, however, were two more groups, making up about half of the population:

About 24% were a category I'll call free range. They live apart from family and have their own finances but still feel connected in an emotional way to their parent's home.

And another 25% were what I'd call housemates. They're financially independent, and thought of themselves as mostly independent, but lived with their parents.

What does this tell us? In real life, people's relationships with their families are a lot more nuanced than just "independent" or "dependent."

Everyone's situation is different, and independence today is definitely on a spectrum.

In many families, older siblings help raise younger ones. Photo from iStock.

Maybe a young person is staying at home while going to school so they can save money while living under mountains of student debt.

Or maybe that young person is one of the many folks who stay with their family in order to take care of an ailing loved one, to help raise younger siblings, or to help provide financially.

Or maybe they come from one of the many cultures around the world that encourage kids to stay with their families for years.

As today's millennials come into adulthood, their independence is likely to fall onto more of a spectrum than in years past.

This research could hopefully help inform future research and policies for the public, too.

"The fact that we have this diverse range of groups across the spectrum of independence, and that each of these groups is so well-represented in the population, means we need to stop thinking of independence as a binary concept: either dependent or independent," Manzoni said in a press release.

"It's more complicated than that. Our research and policies — on everything from education to housing — need to reflect these nuances, because they are important."

Today, I have my own place again. But now I'll think differently about what it means to be independent.

Like so many things in life, it comes down to what's best for each of us.

Most Shared

This former child actor's Instagram post about growing up is on point.

Dylan Sprouse is teaching us all a thing or two about growing up.

\n\nIf you were a child of the '90s, the Sprouse twins might be pretty familiar faces.

The Sprouse twins were household names during the early 2000s. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images.

Now, Dylan and Cole Sprouse are all grown up. As proud alumni of New York University, the twins have gone their separate ways, with Cole pursuing other acting endeavors, and Dylan doing, well, whatever he wants for the time being.  


Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Katsuya.

But Dylan says he gets asked what he's doing all the time, to the point of exhaustion. And this week, he took to Instagram to address the question.

Sprouse called out the hypocrisy of a society that expects him to keep up a career he indulged in as a child. 

Screenshot courtesy of the writer.

Screenshot courtesy of the writer

He also called out that it's OK to be doing nothing and to work on figuring out what his next steps might be.

"I'm enjoying myself by relaxing, traveling, consuming media, and continuing to learn" but the truth is is that unless I'm doing something bigger and better than what I've previously done, people deem it regressive." 

It’s no secret that many child stars struggle to transition into adulthood. Drugs, alcohol, and unemployment tend to find even the most successful of child stars, ultimately setting the stage for a less than desirable adulthood.

\n\n

The pressures of Hollywood can be daunting, and for a kid working in the industry since they were practically in diapers, it makes a lot of sense that they may want to take their time in deciding what's next. The Sprouse twins have emerged pretty smoothly, though, and that's impressive.

The Sprouse twins enjoyed growing up out of the spotlight. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Plus, these guys are only 23 years old! The same age that Tina Fey was working at a YMCA. The age that Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche had recently finished writing her first play and was getting ready to pursue other projects. The age when Oprah was fired from her first journalism job. The age that Ralph Lauren was still serving in the army

Whether you're a recent college graduate or a former child star, you don't always know what you want, and that's totally normal! As Dylan admits in his post, while Cole is pursuing acting, that may not be what he wants to stick with — a concept that's totally OK in your 20s. 

So Dylan, as a former 10-year-old fan of your hilarious show, I have three words for you: You do you.