It’s been about a year since I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and started working full time. Here’s what adulting seems to mean: a loss of time, no cheap talk, and iterability.
A Loss of Time
I work 8 hours a day, five days a week. In university, I worked (maybe) 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. Losing all of that free time (~26 hours) is jarring! It feels like all of your time has been sucked away. The last time I worked for 8 hours straight was when I was 13 and in in grade 9.
Adulting means that your time becomes noticeably scarce for the first time in your life. It means you need to become hyper efficient and hyper selective about how you spend your time so that you can achieve the things that you want.
Iterability simply means that when you do something, it must fit into a bigger scheme that you can repeat through time. For example, I’m often tempted to just put $2000 towards my student loans, just to see that number drop.
But should I do so? No! If I’m not willing to take out $2000 from every pay check to put towards student loans, then I shouldn’t do it at all. The same goes for everything else. Should I buy bitcoin? Should I eat that cookie? Should I go swimming? It shouldn’t be done unless it fits into some bigger schema or rule that is iterable. Maybe the rule is “sugar once a week, and only when with friends” or “cardio four times a week.”
What iterability also means is that spontaneity and open-ended curiosity tend to no longer be welcome in my schedule. No longer can one do late night trips to McDonalds with a friend. Those need to be scheduled for next week because your friend is usually busy this week. You can’t go learn about staking your crypto coins this evening because instead, you were planning to write a blog post. If it’s not iterable, then what are the benefits of doing it?
Iterability also applies to your relationships and your emotions. If you have a friend who you meet once a week who makes you feel tired, then you’re signing up to feel tired one day a week for the entire year. Better instead to just cut the friendship loose. If you work at a job that sucks away your soul for 8 hours a day every day, you’re literally spending half of your life getting your soul sucked away. Better instead to quit and find a new job. If you’re spending 3 hours arguing with people about the pandemic on instagram to no avail and it depresses you, better to just stop doing it.
No Cheap Talk
This one was quite annoying and painful to learn. In university, you get to say whatever you think, with no real consequence or cost. I could say that Canadian society is a settler-colonial patriarchal construct which should actually be turned into a Marxist state. The only real costs to your thoughts were the respect of your peers and your grades.
But as an adult, you will need to rely on your ability to think through issues to navigate through the world! For example, I told a friend that there’ll be massive inflation because central banks have been printing sooo much money during the pandemic. But those were just the words that came out of my mouth. If I really believed this, then I would pay back my student loans minimally instead of putting down thousands of dollars per month to get rid of the debt as soon as possible.
So! Now when I think, I look not just for evidence to show whether it is true or not, but also what the implications of the conclusion are. Thought and action go hand in hand. University students should still have the freedom to think without being burdened by the implications or having skin in the game. But when you get your first job, you realize that you actually make money, and making financial choices are always based on some assumptions. Ideally, you are conscious of them and your words match your actions.
Thus, adulting seems to mean that you lose a lot of your free time, you need to iterate on everything, and you don’t get to talk without there being implications of your thoughts.