Is Adulthood really a scam?
I hit 30, and I feel adulthood is a scam. Do you feel the same?
I recently chanced upon this Reddit post titled I hit 30, and I feel adulthood is a scam. Do you feel the same?
The author lamented about his frustrations and boredom about his work week being a routine; and weekends being burnt really quickly.
He shared about being unable to switch off; having low energy levels after work and loneliness.
A lot of us in our 20s and 30s do struggle with several points he raised.
We spend their school days working hard. When we graduate, many of us find adulthood to be daunting; overwhelming; hard to navigate and to adapt to. Many feel like a cog in a bigger machine, going through the motion and wondering if this is what life is about.
To some degree, I also feel like leaving school has some similarities with leaving prison. You lose structure and predictability. This is why many prisoners also struggle with life and adapting to the world after being released and having to find their own path.
In my first year after graduation, I struggled with similar thoughts too.
I eventually realized that a meaningful life is something you create for yourself.
At the end of the day, I cannot control how long I will live for or many things that happen to me.
So, I just want to maximize my potential; build meaningful deep relationships and leave a positive impact. If I have all these things, I feel I can die without regrets.
Here are some things which have worked for me:
1. Investing multiple times per week on fitness and health
Your health is an investment, not an expense.
To ensure high energy levels, metabolic rate must be maintained at high levels. This means good diet and also constant exercise to build stamina is key.
There is really no such thing as too tired to exercise or too busy. It is just not a priority to people when they say that.
One of the people who inspired me is my former Solution Architect.
When we were going through a low point, he told me that it is important to ensure that we are in shape. I saw him waking up early each morning to run; cycling often and starting to improve his health. This positively influenced me to also step up my efforts when it comes to exercise.
2. Getting a job you like
In our early years, I feel it is really important to experiment and also get to know ourselves on a deeper level.
If we have a job we are engaged in and are good at, that really helps as most of us spend a lot of time at work.
No job is perfect and every job has trade offs. The question is really: What are you optimizing for at this point in your life?
For example, in my case, I recently lost a lot of free time I used to have.
A high growth company moves at a different pace and has much stricter and higher expectations.
This transition feels like going to an elite school.
However, the opportunity; learning and growth is worth it.
I just have to be a lot more selective about who and what I spend my time on. I am at peace with giving up coffee chats since I want to be more focused about the way I network.
3. Meaningful relationships
Since you have lesser free time, it is important to be deliberate about your relationships.
I am extremely clear about who are the type of people I want to invest further in and who I do not.
I like traits like conscientiousness; high eq; loyalty; growth mindset/competence; depth and compassion. When I meet someone new, I often scan for these things and decide if I want to invest further.
If people do not wish to invest time and energy in me, I’d not chase and focus on other friends instead.
It is up to you to take the lead some times.
I spent the past few mid-autumn festivals wishing someone will organize a celebration and also invite me.
No one did. It was sad during the evenings and I found myself wishing “Hope next year can celebrate mid autumn festival together and carry lanterns”
This year I got tired of waiting and decided to organize two mid autumn festival gatherings - one for family and one for friends.
4. Make sure you have hobbies
If all you do is watch television at home or scrolling social media, it is hard to feel life is meaningful.
How meaningful can life really be if most of your time, you are facing a screen?
In adulthood, it is key to really be deliberate about how you spend your free time.
This can include picking up hobbies you enjoyed as a kid but did not get to do much later on.
I find myself having many things to do: Content Creation; Painting; flower arrangement; reading; sports and more.
You cannot expect the world to make life meaningful for you. We can create the kind of life we want and that power resides within us.
Does learning social skills make you fake?
When I share about the importance of social skills and etiquette, some respond that it is not natural to them and therefore feels fake.
I wonder if we might be confusing ‘doesn’t come naturally’ with being fake.
After all, “self” is something we get to decide on.
We get to decide what kind of habits we want to embody. We get to decide how we want to show up and how we want to treat people.
One example is making a conscious decision to be early or on time.
I did not manage my time well when I was younger and would often be late.
It was only when I grew older where I decided time was valuable and I want to respect people. That was when I started making punctuality a priority.
I feel like making an effort to learn and practice good social etiquette is simply finding a pleasant and tactful way to be human.
Crystal Lim-Lange talks about how she does not believe in 100% authenticity and I definitely agree with this.
To be a mature adult is really about taking into consideration other people’s feelings; creating a good experience for others; picking your battles - versus only making everything about yourself.
Direction > Speed
I am someone who has a high “Bias for Action”. This means if I have set my eyes on something, I think and act fast.
However, in recent years, I have learned to slow down.
In my life, I have found myself pursuing goals only to realize it is not what I wanted.
This happened in many aspects of my life including my career; personal development and relationships.
I do not see those efforts in the wrong direction as “wasted”. After all, I picked up many valuable lessons; contacts and transferable skills.
However, I now see the value in slowing down in my decision making and also being able to reflect along the way at various points.
The benefits include being able to
Focus on the highest leverage opportunities
Have a higher conviction in what I have chosen and to stick to it better
Restore my energy and be less burned out
What helped me a lot is the practice of decision journaling. This means writing out every important decision in my life to ensure I do not miss anything.
Writing about my decisions have forced me to slow down and also to be able to articulate my thinking.
If you are making important decisions around spending on a huge purchase; committing to someone; investing your hard earned money in a stock or taking up a job, here is a decision journal template you can use.
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