Dear 18-year-old Laurie,
I know you have some visions for the future and plans for how you want to be as an adult. You have spent a lot of time envisioning yourself as an adult and making plans for how you want your life to go. I’ll tell you right now that your life as a grown up is awesome. However, it is a bit different from you imagined. And by a bit different I mean not at all what you ever thought it would be like.
The vision – clothes: For some reason, you always imagine yourself as an adult wearing dyed jeans, Beatle boots, and cowl-neck sweaters. If you are really dressing up, you swap the jeans for leather pants. You have Armani in your closet and have more than few designer pieces. You aren’t ostentatious, just really well-dressed.
The reality – clothes: You do wear a lot of jeans but they are just regular blue jeans. You tend to wear the same shoes every day and they are all about comfort. You’ve gone through several pair of all-weather clogs to show off your handknit socks. I know it kills you to hear this. Clogs? Yes. Comfort is awesome. I did finally get rid of my last pair of Beatle boots this summer when I cleaned out my closet. I hadn’t worn them in 20 years and it was hard to admit I just wasn’t the Beatle boot kind of person anymore. I don’t have a single designer item. They are expensive and would look silly in my day-to-day life. Not to mention, most of the time I’m covered in cat and dog hair as well as muddy paw prints. I’ve never even tried on a pair of leather pants. They just seem ridiculous now.
The vision – social life: You pictured life after parental rules as late nights, parties and activities: concerts, plays, and travel. When you finally have a grown up job you can afford to do fun stuff and go to fun places. You will know a lot of people doing all these things and these people will be cool, artistic, and probably famous.
The reality – social life: You do know a lot of cool people and many of them are very artistic. None of them are famous or even want to be famous. You go to a party every now and then but most of the time you are home and in bed early because you have to work the next day. On the weekends you tend to be in bed early because you are tired and pretty excited about sleeping in. Yes, sleeping in is what you are looking forward to the most. You go to a play every once in a while and have traveled a little. You don’t go to concerts because they are loud, crowded, and go late. You’d rather be in bed. Also, doing a lot of that stuff is expensive.
The vision – work: Well you were sure you would make a boat-load of money because that is what grown ups do. You also knew it would be artistic so you’d be working in a studio kind of atmosphere with a lot of cool people. There would be floor to ceiling windows, drafting tables, light tables, deadlines, and layouts.
The reality – work: The salary you make as an adult would make you think you’re rich (let’s face it, you make about $5 an hour when you are 18) but it all has to go to other places. Everything costs money! Did you know you have to pay for garbage pick up? Seriously, garbage. And the water in your house? You have to pay for that too! Food is expensive and houses cost a lot of money with taxes, yard work, tools for doing the chores yourself. It never ends. I think you have more disposable income at your age than I have now. You are not rich. You will probably never be rich. You will always owe money. Don’t get depressed, you do all right and you can afford luxuries like cable, wifi (you’ll learn what that is later), and dog toys (don’t ask).
There isn’t much that is glamorous about your work though. You work in a gray cubicle. A cubicle is a fabric box. It is located in a field of gray boxes. It isn’t pretty but you do work with super-cool, smarter-than-you-ever-imagined, people. You don’t do anything even remotely like you imagined but you really enjoy it and wouldn’t change careers.
Some other things to look forward to:
- Big hair is no longer the style. You’ll be able to give up your mousse and hairspray soon.
- Don’t keep buying cassette tapes, that technology will be replaced and all the tapes will end up in a box in your garage.
- Don’t apply for credit cards. They are like gambling in Vegas; the house always wins.
- Boys never get any better. They just get older. Even the good ones are still often strange, clueless, and kinda stinky.
- Stop drinking diet soda. This is the monkey on your back and it only gets worse with the years.
- You aren’t fooling anyone by hiding your smoking. Smokers reek. An open window doesn’t get rid of the smell. You quit in a few years anyway, save your money and just quit now.
- Cherish the friends around you now. You are going to lose a few and you’ll always miss them.
Your life will not be as glamorous as you think it will be but it is way better in ways you never imagined. Don’t stress so much. The decisions you make are right in the end. Except for the mullet. For the love of all that’s holy…avoid the mullet.