It has taken me 22 years to realize that my last 22 years have not exactly prepared me for the grueling transition into adulthood.
You know that act you pull when class begins and the professor whips out a pop quiz? I'll doodle a bit and take my sweet time writing out my name in bubble letters, similar to what you would find in a sixth grader’s notebook.
I confidently jot down some illegible crap to make everyone around me think I know what I am doing, since I clearly have no clue. Then, I’ll stroll up to the professor and hand in my disappointment with a grin on my face.
That little visual pretty much sums up how I’m currently handling adulthood.
Always expect the unexpected, they say. Well, the pop quizzes the real world throws at you are pretty damn unexpected. Just an average day can spark complete manic breakdown mode.
Quick! Pop quiz! I’m driving down the interstate and my tire blows! What do I do? Is this a joke? I’m supposed to use a Jimmy to change the tire I think. Or is it a Jack? Jeremy? Some name that starts with a J. I don’t even know the name of the tool — I sure as hell don’t know how to use it. Thank God for roadside service.
Pop quiz! I have to make a doctor's appointment today. Okay, this should be easy. The nurse asked me over the phone what day is best for me to come in? Well, hell, lady, I don’t know; let me ask my mom… Oh, wait, I should know this.
Do I need to have a personal planner for these kinds of situations? That reminds me, I should get a calendar for the kitchen. Which also reminds me, I should buy a knife set. Do I need one of those? What will I cut? I don’t even have any groceries.
Pop quiz! Do I separate the darks from the lights for laundry? Sorry, I don’t believe in segregation. I’m sure it’s fine to wash my blouse and blue jeans together with the towels. So, this is a good time to make that grocery list, I guess. Pop-Tarts, ramen… Okay, that should do it.
Pop quiz! I’m starving. I can feel my stomach sucking up against my spine. It’s already 8 pm, no wonder! Mom usually has dinner ready by now, “Mom! The meatloaf!” Just as I thought, no reply.
It’s just me and a pouch of dry, instant oatmeal. The Quaker Oatmeal man on the box is staring at me with a smirk. “What do you find so amusing?” I yell at the painted man on the box, “Wipe that smile off your face, and lose that stupid hat.”
What am I doing? Why am I yelling at a cardboard box? Have I gone mad? I’ve created a warped relationship with the Quaker Oatmeal guy. Is this what being an adult is like? Okay, skip the oatmeal.
Pop quiz! I’ll just put my clothes in the dryer then run to the grocery store. Only, I’m almost positive this blouse was white when I bought it, and now it’s a dull blue. It’s not like this was my favorite shirt. Total sarcasm -- it was!
I don’t recall signing up for this, and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to receive some sort of pamphlet. Perhaps a crash course or maybe a manual: “You’re a Big Girl Now: Here’s What to Expect.”
The doctor, the knife set, grocery shopping, my psychotic rant to Mr. Quaker. Oh, and RIP, white shirt.
I haven’t studied for this portion of the test. Panic mode engaged. Excuse me while I go sit in my bathtub and wallow in cold water and self-pity with my now-blue blouse tied around my head.
Okay, pull yourself together. This isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning.
To be perfectly honest, even if we all received a manual to study in preparation for the real world, it wouldn’t make any difference. A step-by-step tutorial probably wouldn’t even do us any good.
No one knows exactly what to expect when we step out on our own, but isn’t that the point of growing up?
Each day packs a punch, and sometimes, you’ll get lucky and dodge it. But, other days, you'll sport a black eye. It’s a constant surprise. I can guarantee you, no one is truly prepared when it comes to life.
As years pass by, we learn a few tactics and gain a better understanding of what we could encounter and how to cope. With experience comes maturity and wisdom, which certainly can’t hurt.
We’ll eventually take the low blows as life lessons and recognize the red flags that were so obviously apparent during the first routine screwups. But, that’s okay; we live and learn, and sometimes, we don’t.
Sometimes, we continuously make the same mistakes, but it’s still experience gained. With that being said, the best preparation with which we can equip ourselves is flexibility. Take on life with flexibility, a sense of humor and the understanding that sh*t happens on a daily basis.
Flexibility is like the back-up pencil you brought when your pen ran out of ink. It’s the box of wine you have stowed away in your fridge when the good stuff runs dry. Which, let’s be real, I’m sure was just another box of wine.
So, take your pencil and your juice box and go get ‘em, tiger! You’re not alone. The truth is, none of us have a single clue what life will throw our way. But, that's all a part of the fun.