We're all in uncharted territory.
Adulthood, unfortunately, does not come with a set of instructions. Nothing your parents taught you can fully prepare you for the amount of overwhelming weirdness that's going to come at you from all sides.
You are now the single executive owner, operator, and administrator of You. It's awesome. Make the most of it. You will quickly learn there are aspects of the human experience nobody talks about, and you will master these aspects with time.
Adulting is a skill. Most of us do it sloppily and haphazardly until we learn the hard way, and honestly, there's no shortcut around that. But I've learned that we're all trial-running the human experience, and it can be hard.
Here are the things that have made adulthood easier for me—things they don't tell you, but things you won't regret.
1. Learn to cook
Your food budget will go so much further.
2. Go to the doctor. Seriously.
It's worth the debt. This is your body, and you only get one.
3. Have friends.
Adult life gets lonely really, really fast. You will notice this quickly. Everyone is busy, but you need to make time for your friends. People with friends live longer and are psychologically healthier. It's also nice to have someone to drive you to the hospital if you need it. Seriously, for reasons both practical and personal, maintain your friendships. It will take a concerted effort. It will be work. But a healthy, successful person is well-connected. We're not in this alone, you know. Make alliances. It also helps to assuage the existential dread.
4. Call your parents.
Just once a week, if that. Chances are, they're far away. Not to be dismal, but people get old. Life goes by quickly. The people who love us like family are few. Call your parents.
5. Be safe, but don't feel bad about having sex.
Honestly, sex is fun. Get on birth control, and always (I mean ALWAYS) use protection, but enjoy yourself. Embrace your sexuality as a fun, healthy part of life. Don't focus too much on settling down just for the sake of it. Enjoy your 20s. Sexual encounters are exciting, and you are not a bad person for enjoying that. Be a slut! Do whatever you want.
In a world where most aspects of your life are controlled, your sexuality is an aspect where you can let loose. It's also so, so good for your stress level. Learn to have adult sex, and learn that it doesn't have to be a big deal. You don't need to be ashamed.
6. Care about something.
Modern life makes us pretty selfish. To stay grounded, it's important to give back to the world. What breaks your heart? What moves you? Go volunteer. Get involved with a cause in some capacity. Participate in activism or give to charity—and not just financially. Give your time. Invest in society, and invest in other people. You will leave a positive impact on the world, and you will find your soul so much richer. Care for your heart by caring for others.
7. Surround yourself with people who are different from you.
You will find that you are actually already surrounded by people different from you. They deliver your mail, serve your pizza, live on your block, work in your office, or cut your hair.
What this really means is listen. These people have unique perspectives. These people know things you don't. Listen to them, make the time to talk to them, and especially make an effort to build relationships with them, and you will grow.
8. Deep-clean your apartment, like, once a week.
Remember when your mom had you do chores as a kid? Remember how she had you dust and clean toilets? Yeah, no one wants to do those things. But it turns out your mom was not, in fact, full of it. When you don't dust, it gets hard to breathe, and when you don't clean your toilet, it turns black under the rim and starts to mold. I'm serious.
As an adult, you are able to blow off adult-like chores. You probably will. But then you'll realize that in addition to regular cleanliness, the messiness of living ... just, kinda, accumulates.
So once a week, stay on top of this, and you'll find it's manageable over time. Once a week, clean your microwave. Mop your floor. Scrub down your shower. Wipe down your windows. Remove that lint stuff from the filter in your dryer. You'll find home-owning much more manageable over time.
9. Read a book.
I'm not kidding. After college, it's likely that no one will ever force you to read a book ever again. This does not mean you never should. Read books—even (actually, especially) fiction. This keeps your brain sharp, and it keeps your imagination active. In a world lacking in imagination, you need that more than you think.
10. Find your own spirituality.
Not everyone needs religion. And it's likely that, even if you were raised with religion, it's not for you. But at the end of the day, we are all faced with the question of our own existence, and that can be a lonely thing. Explore that.
Find an avenue of healing or a practice that assuages that for you. It might not be the spirituality you were raised with, or it might not have an official name at all—but whatever it is, have one. You have a relationship with the universe, and that relationship is yours and yours alone. Wherever you feel like answers lie, seek them.
It's okay to be different. But having a personal practice, whether it be church or meditation, can be essential in maintaining a relationship with your inner self that is healthy and sustainable.
The world cares little for the condition of your soul. Your soul is precious, and it is yours. Be gentle to yourself. Tend to it. Love it. Not because you owe it anything, but because it's beautiful, and it's yours. A human being is more than just a body, you know. Find your connection to something larger than yourself—something that keeps you questioning—and seek that, always.
11. Be in love if you have the chance.
It's worth the loss. You will feel loss. It will likely end in loss. But something is born in love that is far more than the sum of two individual parts. If that comes to you, let it. Let the universe work its magic in your heart. Remember it's part of being human.
You do not need to be in love, but if it stumbles upon you, if it chooses you and asks you, do you want to play? — remember that you will lose everything, but in spite of this, say yes.
12. Above all else, relax.
Just, chill. The world moves fast, but your life is your own. You are enough, and you are loved. Whatever worries you, whatever occupies your thoughts, it will pass. You will not make it come faster by worrying. There is no pain in the world you can relieve by a moment of panic or fear.
If you want to live a lovely life, remember you, yourself, are lovely. You have nothing to be stressed about. I promise. I promise. Just chill, man.
And laugh—a lot. Life is hard, and you will need it. Good thing life is also completely and totally ridiculous! Laugh often—as often as you can. When we laugh at life, we master it. And I think you will find this whole series of affairs is not nearly as serious as you had hoped.
Whoever you are, you are loved.
What advice has helped you cope with adulthood? Let us know in the comments.