Project Adult*

Happiness ProjectSome years ago on the internet, I stumbled upon Gretchin Rubin’s Happiness Project blog (Check out her website here). Living in New York with a young family and a job that she loved, it struck her that she was not as happy as she should or could be and set about a year-long project focusing on becoming actively happier.

Each month she focused on a different set of resolutions, backed up by her research into happiness and based on her own personal preferences. January focused on Vitality – Boost Energy. March focuses on Work – Aim Higher. May focused on Leisure – Be Serious About Play. September focused on Books – Pursue a Passion.

Each month was broken down into concrete tasks for the focus point. January’s Vitality was condensed into:
– Go To Sleep Earlier
– Exercise Better
– Toss, Restore, Organize
– Tackle A Nagging Task
– Act More Energetic.

She also established her Personal Commandments (I particularly liked: “Be Gretchen”, “act the way I want to feel”, “identify the problem” and “do what ought to be done”), listed the Secrets to Adulthood (“to keep going, we sometimes need to allow ourselves to stop”, “most decisions don’t require extensive research”, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” and “the more we accept ourselves, and what’s right for us, the more other people accept us.”) and Splendid Truths (the first being: “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”)

I loved it. I loved it and I bought the book (“The Happiness Project, or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun”) and was lucky enough to receive a signed book plate from Gretchin in New York.

I read this book at least three times a year. I also read the follow-up Happier At Home just as much. It speaks to my organized, task-oriented nature and I really enjoy seeing how someone else practically tackles personal development. I’m not one for meditation or yoga or big thinking. I like lists and doing and visible results, even if they take a while. I’ve spoken to a number of friends about this (so far, only one has rejected the book flat out and we agreed that we shouldn’t lend each other books any more as we have utterly opposite tastes!) and we’ve all worked on versions of happiness projects. My friend, Fee, is currently working on her own happiness project at the moment and I’m both fascinated and inspired by it. She’s giving veganism a go, trying to drink more water, buying fairtrade clothes and doing jigsaws – all things that are important and particular to her.

Talking with Fee made me excited about my own project, but I realised that being a more confident adult would make me happiest, so my happiness project morphed into this nebulous idea, which in turn led to this blog.

But I need to work out what areas need work, how I’m going to tackle each area and make SMART goals. That’s the next step.

*Deliberately not titled “Adult Project” for the XXX connotations…

An Adultier Adult

Hello there!

One of the things I like to discuss is the concept Adulthood in modern society.

Mainly this involves me texting my sister to say “Adulting is so hard. I can’t even with today. I have to call a customer service guy to fix a thing. Rude” and then a string of yellow-faced sobbing emojis.

Clearly, I am a very mature individual. But I do wonder if it’s harder to be a grown up these days. There’s no manual. It’s not like school with a grading system. We leave education and get a job and somehow, that’s it. We’re adults and we have mortgages and spouses and wills. The end.

Looking at friends my age we’re a broad spectrum of martial statuses, career achievements, style accomplishments and Having It Together. There have a been a number of upheavals in my life in the last few years and, when I stop to think about it, this is not where I imagined I would be when I was this age.

I’m 32 and I’m not married and I have no children and I have a job, not a career and I’m about to move into another flatshare with strangers in London. It’s fine, but it’s not where I thought I would be this far into my thirties. I have recently been educated about hair oil though, so my hair looks amazing. I am happy with my hair. I cannot imagine having a mortgage. My life is barely different from a few months after I left university.

When my mother was my age, she had a husband, two children, owned a house and a car and had an established career. She was a bona fide adult, albeit one with a dubious perm and some Deirdre Barlow glasses.

Before I turned thirty, I had a moment of panic that I wasn’t as developed as I should be and, as in all times of crisis, I turned to the internet and to lists. At the time, every other American had a “Thirty Before Thirty” list and it appealed to my methodical sense of organisation. I would list my way to self-confidence. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to be able to say about myself when I was thirty and made my list. Two university friends joined me – keeping up to date through a Facebook group- and we each worked our way through our 30 objectives.

For someone who talks so much, I’m quite shy and nervous, so my goals didn’t involve anything too dramatic. No swimming with dolphins or backpacking around Colombia for me. But I did go to New York for a few days. I finally got my driving licence. I went to a ballet. I read a whole book in French. I threw a party. I developed a taste for blue cheese. I built two Ikea bookcases. I made macarons. I cooked a chicken. I watched Top Gun, the Lion King, The Usual Suspects and two more classics I’d somehow never got round to. Things that I should have known how to do, or really wanted to have done by now, but fear or lack of commitment or opportunity had held me back from achieving them.

I completed the list (tweaking it along the way when necessary) just in time and really enjoyed the experience and sense of achievement. I learned to be a little less fearful and a little more adventurous.

I can’t sit around and wait to magically transform into an Adult. If I want to feel confident about it, I’ll only feel better if I actively tackle it. Over Elderflower Fizzes with my friend, Scottie, we were talking about blogs and decided that we would just bite the bullet and start one each. So this is mine. Documenting how I will become an adultier Adult and recognising the lessons of adulthood I have already learnt.