15 Things Nobody Told You About Becoming an Adult

15 November 2020

Here Are 15 Things About Adult Life That We Couldn’t Have Peeked Into When We Were Kids

Adulting isn’t easy at the best of times, but it doesn’t help that the rosy picture of the world that was painted for us as children is far from the reality. When we finally launch into the real world to fend for ourselves, we are met with a super-sized portion of reality and a truck load of things no one told us about becoming an adult. Some are easier to laugh at, others are heartbreaking, some a welcomed change and others shake the foundations of what we thought true.

Here are our top 15 things that nobody told us about becoming an adult.

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This article isn’t like life. There is a way to peek into all of its content without having to read through it. You can switch to the YouTube upload for this topic:

With that said, let’s get right to the reading business.


There Aren’t Medals at Every Success

The modern school system would have you believe that no matter where you come in the race or what your marks are, there are prizes for everyone at the end. Somehow teachers manage to sell us a truth that everyone must try their best to win and winning is great, but at the same time winning isn’t everything and wherever we come we are winners. It’s the most paradoxical argument of any on earth. It sets us up for heartache and failure.

In reality there is a clear winner when it comes to competition, careers and business success. But not EVERYTHING is a competition like children make it. Who gets the bigger bowl of ice-cream, or who calls shot-gun doesn’t actually add up to eventual success? And the same goes for adulthood.

It’s irrelevant what car you drive or what thread count your curtains are, if you have no time to enjoy them. Winning isn’t about crossing the finish line first or scoring the highest. There are nuances, and the medals are also less obvious rewards like overall quality of life and happiness, and job satisfaction over job title. A happy home with a work-life balance is the ultimate reward for most adults.


Nothing Is Free

As a kid, life is free in more ways than one. Every few weeks of work you are given complete freedom to play and do as you please. And food magically appears before you, water comes out of taps and heating and electricity is available at the flick of a switch for most middle class kids.

Young adults are given a hard dose of reality when your first pay check disappears before you get to do all the fun stuff you always said you would do with your first pay check. Everything costs, even free things cost because they take a lot of time or resources to materialize. And life is darn expensive…all…the…time…

If you want to know the most freeing experience though stick around to number 10.


You Will Fail, and That’s Okay

When you were a kid you probably had a plan along the lines of go to college, get a job, marry by 25 or go on a world tour, move to LA and become famous, have kids before 30 and be CEO by 35. Kids don’t account for having to redo a semester of college or a break-up, or your job being on the other side of the country, so you have to relocate or retrenchment. It’s a simple straight forward upward trajectory world-view.

The truth is that life isn’t a straight line, as Tennessee Williams put it in his play A Streetcar Names Desire: What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” There will be ups and downs, but if you take the bitter with the sweet is a beautiful journey regardless.


Eye Contact and a Smile Make a Bigger Difference Than What You Are Saying

You can say all the right words and share the most brilliant ideas, but if you say them looking down to your feet, no one will be convinced. There is seldom enough emphasis in childhood on some basic life skills that matter like a firm hand shake, eye contact and a confident smile. These will give you so much more mileage than endless research and a lack of social skills.


Hard Work Doesn’t Automatically Equal Success

If hard work was a sure path to success, then there would be mine workers and health care workers living in mansions and retiring at 30. But it isn’t true, there are so many more factors than blindly working hard at anything that’s put in front of you.

In essence, hard work doesn’t mean anything if there is a cap on the earning potential of the role. Or if you aren’t working at the right thing, then no matter how hard you work, it won’t mean success.

If you’re not entirely sure what we mean, watch our video: 15 Reasons Why WORKING HARD IS DUMB


Bathmats, Toiletries and Bins

Believe it or not these items don’t just magically manifest themselves in bathrooms or grow in dark corners of houses and have to be bought. And worst of all: they have to be replaced, or washed, empty and changed! Shock horror! It’s a travesty and the biggest secret adults have been keeping from young children!


Happiness Doesn’t Come From Keeping Up

As kids, merely fitting in can basically buy you peace of mind. Having a bike to be in the neighbourhood bike gang can secure you the best summer ever or rocking the same sneakers as your best friend is enough to conquer the playground. But adults experience “keeping up” completely differently. Most of us will be surprised at the hollow feeling we get when we made a big purchase just to keep up with the Joneses, or when we finally get the salary we aimed for so we can earn the same as a friend. Those things don’t necessarily change our happiness balance.

Happiness from things or achievement’s only come when they enhance our lived experience, when they are truly for ourselves. The liberation we feel when we stop comparing ourselves to others is the greatest achievement, and can never be topped by a purchase or a bank balance. The reason? It’s finally a true acknowledgement of our OWN success and our own life, not our life in comparison to others.



We All Have Different Values

If the Trump-Biden election season has taught us nothing else, it’s that the world has radically different views on many fundamental values. If you were brought up in a particular religion, race or culture you spend so much time interacting with that group that you begin to believe everyone feels the same.

When we were at school we are taught that everyone believes in honesty, integrity and doing better by his fellow man. We are all treated equally regardless of skin colour or religion. That violence is bad and the police and the president are the good guys, and they will protect us.

When you hit adulthood this dystopian reality of all man being good and equal gets a solid kick in the nuts and we are left with a painful reality. The truth is that somehow, for the most part, we find a way in the world to live amongst people with different values. And while the world might be on fire with the need to “pick a side” we will once again find a way to play together.


Money Costs Money

If you listen to kids play shop they often have lofty ideas of buying a Ferrari and using their credit card to pay for everything. And why not spend on your credit card, the bank gave it to you right?

The reality check that having money costs money, to access your own money at the bank costs money, and to borrow money costs even more, even if you are giving it all back.

Just in case no one told you though and you’re shocked right now: its better finding a way to live within your means and have less stress, than having great stuff and piles of expensive debt.


One of the Greatest Thrills Is Giving Money Away

As a kid you might think that growing the balance in your piggy bank is one of the greatest thrills, and sure you might share some sweets you buy with a friend, but that’s often the extent of kid giving. But there is a far greater thrill awaiting you in adult hood. The opportunity to give and give freely. It’s the kind of transaction you will never regret.

Giving reminds us, that even if it is a tight month, when we give it shows we really did have enough to make it work, and we are doing okay. It’s a magnificent feeling, and a privilege of adulthood that isn’t really advertised.


Passports, Id’s and Drivers Licences Expire

These pieces of identification are a critical part of adult life. If you don’t have them, it hampers your ability to move freely and transact in the world. What’s worse, when you get your first passport or Licence no one tells you that they expire! That’s right. These buggers have a shelf-life.

And if you’re caught after its best before date you may as well not have it on you. The worst is that in many countries digital renewal is still being worked out, so renewing means taking a day off work and a trip to a government office to renew it. Queue many Aluxers quickly checking their ID’s for dates.


You Are the Only Constant in Your Life

The best friend and closest confident you will ever have is yourself. So foster a beautiful love and respect for yourself. Embrace your own company, and make peace with your own advice. Truly in your life you are the most constant. People are migratory, wonderful and fulfilling, albeit fleeting part of our lives. Even our partner or our parents won’t be there for all of our life experiences.

Finding true happiness is keeping an open heart to receive, release and forgive others, and to embrace your own friendship.


Goals Aren’t Always a Win

One of the most devastating blows to adults is realising that goals are a grey area. We are sold this idea that when we set clear goals and a plan and set to work towards it, then we will find success.  And success feels great.

But in stark reality sometimes goals take eons to achieve, many re-takes, re-writes and circling back to get to them. The worst thing is that no one ever thought to tell you that sometimes some goals aren’t worth it in the end. Nothing stings like getting to the end of a 5 year business plan only to realise that you hate the job, the profits aren’t so great, or now that your business is up and running there isn’t a need for it any longer.

In order to be patient and grow out of failures, it is important to develop a positive outlook on it. Check out the 15 Lessons Failure Teaches You.


Every Decision You Make Affects Your Body

That donut, that drink, the way you sit in your office chair, the way you work out…or don’t, and even the fit of your shoe all affects your body. Gone are the days of squeezing yourself into small sneakers or watching TV with your neck craned around the corner. Just 5 minutes in the wrong posture can mean months at the doctor. And doctors aren’t free!

Something that comes into clear focus as an adult is that you only have the one body, that scars don’t disappear, and injuries and bad calories return to punish us later. The sooner you adopt a balanced and healthy lifestyle, the better your body will serve you.


Not Everyone Will Think You Are Awesome

Kid’s movies often show a scenario of a child winning the favor of an entire school or stadium. Before the credits role every character is smiling in agreement that “That kid’s got my vote!” The truth is that isn’t anything like reality. No matter how many tries you score or whales you save, some people won’t be thrilled for you, some might even despise you for it. No matter how hard you try like British actor Miranda Richardson says: “you can’t please all the people all the time.”

The converse is that you don’t have to like everyone all the time either. It doesn’t mean you have to be unkind to them. You just don’t have to be friends. Shew…what a relief!


What did you find our when you became an adult?