A switch in attitude is crucial to “handling adulting s**t” as you enter your 20s!
The other day, at a café, I overheard two young people in their early 20s talk about how complex adulting is. They shared with each other the challenges of having to manage paying their bills, balance their cash-on-hand situation, their pay slips and tax returns; and also plan their investments in gadgets, vacations and wardrobes. It wasn’t that I was eavesdropping. But they were talking loudly – enough to distract me from checking Facebook on my phone! One of them added that she wasn’t ready for marriage yet because she wasn’t quite sure she could handle all this “adulting s**t”! “I can’t now start raising babies when I myself have not grown up from being a baby,” she remarked.
I found the whole perspective amusing. I met Vaani when I was 19, I proposed to her when I was 20 and we married when I was 21. We had Aashirwad when I was 23 and she was 24 – she is a year older than I am! I don’t want to sound like a boring old man now and say how small our monthly income then was and how we managed and blah! But instead I want to say that adulting is so much fun.
I guess it clearly depends on how you look at it. Having been under the watchful care of parents for almost 20 years (I always feel Indian parents too should embrace the American way of sending away their kids into the big world when they turn 17), our children tend to take for granted a sense of security. This, besides the fact that almost everything – housing, food, out-of-pocket expenses and education – are taken care of. There is always this attitude that most urban Indian children, coming from middle-class and upper middle-class backgrounds, have: they are groomed, raised and tuned to ask, is everything ready for me? When they step into independent adult Life, they are perhaps not even attitudinally ready. They ought to be thinking, feeling and saying, am I ready for everything, in fact, anything? This orientation, this switch, is crucial to be adult-ready!
I believe as parents we have to engineer this switch in attitude. No serious preparation is required. Just honest conversations – not only on how money is earned and bills are paid, but also on relationships, the upheavals of Life, on compassion, love, loving, relationships and the Purpose of Life itself. We did that a lot, and still do that, with our children Aashirwad and Aanchal. When Aash went away to University of Chicago he was barely 18. He wasn’t ready then to absorb perhaps everything that we were sharing with him, but his “adventures through adulting”, I guess, helped him connect the dots. For Aanchal, just her physically being with us as we navigate a tumultuous, cathartic phase in our Life, (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), helped her grow into being adult-ready. She had to often jump in and take charge, which she always did, apart from watching, from close quarters, how real world challenges are faced and dealt with.
The whole process of parenting and grooming adult children is not at all as complex as it appears to be. And I repeat, adult Life is a lot of fun! The simple change in attitude that we must all encourage in our adult children and what they must embrace is this: stop asking is everything ready for me and instead ask, am I ready for everything, anything?
Life is inscrutable – we all know that. So, the best way to meet Life daily is to be ready, and willing, to accept everything that comes your way! This is not specific to adulting at all. This is what Life is all about. But since this lesson is never openly shared in the course of everyday conversations in our homes, our children aren’t oriented to look at Life this way. Just that switch in perspective can make their adulting experience so much richer, so much more enjoyable!