I recently turned thirty four. I am definitely an adult. This month has solidified a lot of nebulous thinking about Adulting into the feeling that actually, I got this. I am adulating. I may not know what I’m doing, or LIKE what I’m doing most of the time, but there we are.
The next time I freak out and or forget that I felt like this, I hope I remember a few things here.
While my flatmate was away, there were ALL MANNER of heating system problems. Essentially, everything with water in the flat went wrong at the same time. Me and youtube had a stressful evening that left me incredibly grateful to the Garys and Steves of the world who make videos of boilers and explaining them to non-plumbers. I also did a pretty good job of writing firm but polite emails to the letting agent that this was a real problem that I could not fix and so he could not ignore it. And also fully handing over all responsibility for the leak affecting the downstairs flat. I did not do my usual trick of hoping it would magically fix itself so that I wouldn’t “get in trouble” with anyone (which is what happened with the boiler the last time. Except, obviously, that did not work in the long run).
I had a birthday celebration. I had a multi-stage celebration with many people and minimal stress on my part. I’ve mentioned before that socialising makes me very nervous. Particularly socialising that has the sole purpose of celebrating me. I worry people will feel obliged to come, that they won’t fit into the place I’ve chosen, that the place I’ve chosen will go horribly wrong, that people will die or hunger or thirst or my inability to speak to them properly. Fritz came over from Germany, we had a lunch with one of my best girls and then we were late to the pub I invited people. It was all fine. Fritz was very good at making sure everyone had drinks, I tried really hard to have some quality time with each guest and I made an effort to not push refreshments on people or be unnecessarily stressy. There was a small boy inhaling Colin the Caterpillar cakes, so that was an excellent distraction.
Without getting into too many details, I had a number of social events this month that I was particularly nervous about. Big groups of strangers and small groups of people with whom I have difficult relations at the moment. I put on my big girl pants and just HANDLED it.
A book I have found especially useful lately is WE by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel. From the website “We’s Manifesto is a call to a way of living that puts compassion at its heart. A declaration of intent to live differently — to heal ourselves so that we can create lasting change in our own lives, in our communities and on a global level.” I love it because, while they’re both American, they’ve lived in the UK for a long time, so the happy-clappy is kept to a bracing minimum, whilst remaining inspirational. There’s a whole section in the book about your Inner Girl which really spoke to me. Anderson says in an interview, “I find that very often when I’m refusing to accept something, or I’m having difficulty in relating to other adults, it’s often because my five-year old girl somewhere inside is having a tantrum about the fact that things aren’t going the way that I want them to go.” And that is very definitely the case with me. With social situations sometimes I need to ask myself what it is that I want to feel and how do I reconcile that with what’s actually happening.
Related to that is that I’ve said YES and NO to things and people this month where I really wanted to say yes and no, rather than what was expected of me. I went to things I wanted to. I saw people I wanted to. I did not do things I did not want.
I also learnt that I cannot say YES to everything. This came about through an argument with Fritz where I exhausted myself to the point of illness and we had a Firm Discussion about Not Doing Everything. He made the point that people will still love me even if I don’t do all the things I plan that they have no idea about. I made the point that I LIKE doing those things for people. We had a tough chat but it worked out. I’m trying not to fear these important conversations, not to say “don’t be mad at me/I’m the worst” or apologising without having grounds to. Sometimes people aren’t going to like what I think or what I say. Sometimes I will be an idiot, sometimes I will phrase things poorly. Sometimes I’m just going to have to take that. I’m going to have to live through the consequences of speaking too quickly or having someone think differently of me. I cannot always be perfect for everyone. And sometimes that’s actually not my problem.
This month I confirmed that I have not worked out the summer shoe conundrum, that spray sun lotion is not the best idea for my Irish complexion, that I can’t always wing it in the kitchen and that my memory is affected when I have more than five espressos in a morning. I realised I can just invite myself places if I really want to be there. I discovered that it is possible for me to make a crazy expensive fun purchase and not freak out about it when it’s something perfect. I think I might even be ready to have a haircut in London.
I feel like I’m there. I feel as though I’ve reached Level Adult. I know what I know and have a medium level of confidence in that. I know what I don’t know and that I can try to source the information. That I can set boundaries and ask for help. I might not LIKE all these things, but I can do them.
On some level it would seem this would be a natural conclusion to end the blog. The blog I have neglected for so long with nary a thought. I won’t though, because I am VERY aware that my life is not going to stay the same. Assuming Fritz and I stay together, I will have a whole new adventure ahead of me wherein I know next to nothing and haven’t always the words to explain. If I move to Germany I will gain so much but lose a lot. I’m going to keep this running to explore my fears and challenges ahead and to hopefully put down on virtual paper things I would like to crystallise in my own mind.