"Adulthood" comes to all of us at different times in our life. It has nothing to do with the legal age we can drink, or drive a car, or get married, and it's not signified by the job we have or the car we drive. It's a state of mind, a way of operating in the world.
Being a pretty well behaved teen, I often had people tell me from as young as 13 that I was incredibly mature for my age. In some respects, I could not argue with them. I would look at the behaviour of many of my friends and quite easily distinguish that I, for the most part, handled many things far more "responsibly" than they did. But even now, at the ripe old age of 28, I question when and if I ever truly matured.
I may have always acted appropriately, taken school seriously, and respected those around me, but did that qualify me for full-blown adulthood? I certainly thought it did, until about a year ago, when I concluded that the true sign of maturity is when an individual takes full responsibility for their life.
As part of identifying this conclusion (which I know is entirely subjective), I've reflected a lot on what comes with this fundamental step in life. Here is my list of 7 seemingly harsh realities that kick in when you decide to take full responsibility for your life:
1. The World Doesn't Revolve Around You
As much as we may like to think it does, the truth is, we are but a tiny fish in a massive soup of collective consciousness. Does this mean that we are ultimately powerless to create anything that will impact the masses? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we can no longer expect the world to cater to us.
Long gone are the days when parents, teachers, or any other caregiver is going to sit us down and remind us that everything is going to be okay. We need to find that strength within ourselves and go against the grain to create whatever it is that we are passionate about.
2. Your Reactions Are Everything
In the moment, things may happen to us — some far more challenging, scary, or unwanted than others — but regardless of what that thing is, it's our reaction to it that dictates how much it is going to impact our lives.
For example, there is nothing intrinsically insulting about being called an asshole — we can choose to take it personally, or we can choose to let it roll off our backs. This is why some of us are able to let it go in one ear and out the other while carrying on with our day, while others take it as a punch to the gut and a reason to change their behaviour moving forward.
3. We Can't All Be Famous
We live in a time when instant fame has never seemed more attainable. The laughing mom in the chewbacca mask is all the evidence we need of this phenomenon. But fame still isn't in the cards for all of us.
While I'm not suggesting that we stop trying to achieve success, or even that kind of astonishing overnight success, it seems that with maturity we recognize it's not only not worth pinning our hopes on, but also not really that desirable.
4. We've Been Distracting Ourselves a Lot
We all have things to do — emails we avoid writing, conversations we avoid having, and issues we avoid addressing — yet we consistently choose to distract ourselves instead. Whether it be by glorifying how "busy" we are, or by choosing to turn to Netflix instead, part of taking responsibility for our lives is acknowledging our tendency to distract ourselves.
The more we acknowledge it, the more uncomfortable it becomes, and eventually, it will become so uncomfortable that we finally decide to just take action, and wonder why we didn't do it before.
5. Haters Gonna Hate
Even if you go out of your way to be a people pleaser (which I would never suggest), there will always be someone or many someones who do not support you. While this is certainly the case throughout all of our lives, it usually isn't until we enter maturity that we acknowledge this as not only common but acceptable.
In the end, it's far better to be your true self and let some people hate that, than change who you are and have a bunch of different people hate you anyways.
6. Blaming Doesn't Get You Anywhere
"He/she did it!" It's the infamous line we've heard so many children say while pointing their finger in the direction of the person they believe should take the fall for whatever happened.
It may have worked, on occasion, throughout our childhood, but part of taking responsibility for your life is actually, you know, taking responsibility for your life. As much as we may feel like victims to certain things, playing the victim card rarely gets us anywhere and instead tends to prolong whatever situation or conflict we're trying to escape.
7. You Are the Reason Why You Aren't Where You Want to Be
This one certainly goes hand in hand with the one before it, and is equally as true. If you want to own a multi-million dollar company that earns money for you even while you sleep, you have to start it and stick with it!
Your life is what it is right now because of the collection of decisions you've made up to this point. So now is as good a time as any to start making ones that align with what you actually want. You just need to make sure you're tough enough to handle the fears, challenges, and emotions that are bound to come along the way, and remember, no matter how hard things get, "this too shall pass."