How many times have you, as a full-blown adult, thought, "OK, I definitely have life figured out"? Then, life says, "LOL!" and surprises you all over again. You eventually learn there are a bunch of things no one warned you about being an adult. Something happens and you find yourself caught off guard, despite having believed that you've seen it all.
Often, these things seem like negatives. They're moments when we're forced to stop and reexamine ourselves, because life just isn't what we thought it would be. But I will argue day and night, however cliche it may sound, that even in what seem to be the worst moments, there is a positive — a bit of happiness and also something to learn. And let's be honest: Even if our parents did warn us about all of these things, would we really listen? So much needs to be experienced firsthand for us to really understand, accept, and appreciate it. We can't be taught everything, no matter how good our teachers are — perhaps something else we never knew about life.
Maybe you didn't see these lessons of adulthood coming; but don't let them rain on your parade. There's something to gain from every twist, turn, and curveball.
1. Life Is Expensive
More expensive than you ever knew it could be. When I first moved out on my own and was financially independent, my internal monologue went like this: "I make $2,000 a month. Rent is $500 a month. Therefore, I'll save $1,500 a month. I'm rich!" But then you factor in groceries, gas, your phone, insurance, and other miscellaneous expenses, and that $1,500 dwindles down to $100. How does anybody afford life?
A bigger paycheck helps. Smart spending, saving, and investing are also crucial. But there's also this: Life just isn't cheap. It's a huge blow to your confidence in the beginning; but then your mindset changes. Instead of, "This sucks — I don't want to do this," you wonder, "If this is my cost of living, how can I be smarter about it?" Sure enough, you find ways.
2. Hard Work Doesn't Always Equal Success
This is a tough pill to swallow. I'm your cliche overachiever, and it wasn't until adulthood knocked me on my behind a few times that I finally realized one important lesson: Just because you're a hard worker — and maybe willing to work harder than anyone else — that doesn't mean you'll always be met with success. There are too many moving parts in life to always have a happy ending. But there's a silver lining here.
This means that life teaches you it's OK to not always come out on top. Sometimes, "good" is just as good as "perfect." You're also better off learning the difference between working hard and working smart, because those are two completely different ideas.
3. Sometimes, You Can Only Rely On Yourself
I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but one thing I feel we actively avoid teaching young people is that you won't always have someone to turn to when you need help. It's important for a woman to feel secure by herself, not so that she can avoid ever asking for a hand, but so that she's prepared should that hand ever not be there.
And, simply put, there are some things people just can't fix for you. For instance, it's ultimately up to you to find your own happiness. Yes, spending time in the right places with the right people is important; but you also need to feel fulfilled home alone in the silence.
4. There Will Always Be Someone Better Than You
You can be strong, smart, and fast, but there will always, always be someone somewhere who is stronger, smarter, and faster — a real shock to some of us, as we're forever trying to be the best at something.
These people who are better than us are not to be criticized, hated, or avoided. In fact, you should aim to surround yourself with these people. That's one of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me: Surround yourself with people who are better than you. Why? Simple. These people will lift you up, push you, motivate and inspire you, light a fire under you. You'll learn from them and find the different reasons why they're ahead. If you want to be better, find someone better than you, and listen.
5. You Won't Always Get The Closure You Need
If we're being honest, this just plain old sucks; but, it's life. Whether it's a lover who left you hanging, getting laid off from a job you devoted your whole being too, or a friend who turned their back on you in a time of need, there will come a day when a bad situation feels even worse because you didn't get closure.
But these moments make you stronger. When you learn not to let things out of your control get you down, in a way, you're unstoppable. You are the master of your own emotions — no one else. There's a unique power that comes with that, unlike anything else.
6. Not Everyone Shares Your Values
There are certain things you know to be important in life: Maybe it's something bigger like knowing how to forgive people, or always staying in touch with friends and family. It could be smaller things, like always being on time or remembering to send thank you cards. To you, this is the norm. This is the standard. But we're not all the same.
Some people don't place the same importance on the values you have. This doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, because they have their own values — ones you might not possess. It's a good reminder that we're all different, and we express ourselves in unique ways. Just because someone isn't like you, doesn't mean they're lacking.
7. Friends, And Even Family, Will Come And Go
It's an assumption most of us make: Close friends and family are here to stay. Such is not the case, unfortunately. Friends lose touch or decide to part ways. Sometimes, relatives don't always get along. Distance — whether physical or emotional — often means we have to put more effort into staying connected; and some of us just won't do this.
We are each one half of every relationship in our lives; and with that comes the responsibility to be a good friend, sister, daughter, cousin, etc. But if the other person isn't going to meet you halfway, that's out of your control. Be the best person you can be, and know that this is enough.
Similarly, you may very well decide to cut ties for your own reasons, and that's OK too; sometimes, people just don't mesh. It happens. We're human.
8. Some Goals Take Longer Than You Ever Expected
If you're eager and a real go-getter, you probably get impatient trying to reach your goals. I know I do. Heck, I think a lot of us tend to be impatient in general. We live in a culture of instant gratification; waiting isn't our strongest suit.
I think being a real hustler is an amazing quality; there's nothing quite like a person who grabs life with both hands and says, "This is what I want, and I'm going to have it!" But just like so many of these other things no one told us about being adults, remember: You can only control so much. Not everything can come easily; and it's often the most challenging things in life that take the longest to achieve. This is no coincidence.
9. Failure Is Inevitable
It's something engrained in our minds from childhood: Avoid failure at all costs. The word itself evokes feelings of emptiness and loss. "I failed." Failure is often treated as the ending of some journey, as if this is where you're meant to finish whatever it is you were pursuing.
Really, failure is nothing but a little pitstop on the journey to your goals and desires. If you've read this far, you'll remember that hard work doesn't always translate to success, and some goals take longer. Failure and rejection give you a thicker skin. They force you to be smarter and tougher. But they are not the end! If something matters enough to you, you'll forge ahead no matter how many times people tell you no.