5 Unexpected Ways I Wasn't Prepared For Adulthood
There are obvious ways that having a messed up childhood makes life harder: trust issues, mental health problems, finding out that not every kid gets drunkenly yelled at on their birthday. But I'm going to talk some of the ways that I didn't expect it would mess with my young adult life.
1. You don't know how to clean
Sexist jokes aside, it's important for an adult to be able to clean. Living in a pigsty of pizza boxes and moldy dishes is only cute for so long. But when, like me, you grew up in mostly filthy environments because your adult caretakers were too high to do anything, you never learn how to clean. You'd think it would be simple enough; most normal people have clean homes. And then you live in a healthy environment for a while, and you realize you don't know anything about cleaning.
Again, it really seems simple. I know how to wash dishes, use a washing machine, and use a broom and mop. But somehow, despite doing these things, my house never looks as clean as everyone else's house. And I have no idea why. It doesn't look messy, but it looks kind of shabby, and a bit dirty. What am I doing wrong? Am I cleaning wrong? Is there some secret cleaning system I don't know about? How often am I supposed to clean? Why do these people all have magical spotless sunny houses? I honestly can't figure it out, and it's driving me crazy. I suppose this is one aspect of learning the wrong kind of independence. I could cook for myself, beg for change, and get a mentally disabled six-year old to school, but I can't figure out how to properly sort paperwork and keep a bank account.
2. Healthy relationships are hard
I did the whole sticking-with-what-you-know thing, and made a mess of my teenage years. I don't want to think about that right now, because it is incredibly depressing, but the good news is I got 1000 miles away and made a fresh start in a healthy relationship. It's built on trust and respect and all of those other things that TV has told me are important in a stable, long-term relationship. So you'd think I would be happy. And I mostly am. But healthy relationships are, like, super hard, you guys.
This sounds kind of backwards, because it is! In an unhealthy relationship, you can yell and scream and feel justified in being an ass, because that's what the other person does too. That's how you argue. Or just discuss things. Or spend Friday evenings when he bothers to come home for once. But when you're in a healthy relationship, you can't just flip your crap and take a fit every time something upsets you. You need to like, talk about it and stuff.
It also messes with your self-esteem. In some messed up way, being in an abusive relationship can make you feel good about yourself. Because no matter how bad it gets, you're the better person. You're not the one blowing all of your money on drugs and booze. You're not the one who hits your partner. You're not the one who acts like the scum of the earth. But then in a healthy relationship, you're both equals. Except you feel less than an equal because you have all of this baggage, and it comes out on someone who doesn't deserve it. You realize that you're the scum of this relationship. A milder scum, kind of like soap scum or something, but scum nonetheless.
3. You don't have a strong sense of self
I'm not even talking about the big things here, like wondering who I am and what's going to happen with my life. I also mean the little things. When your life is basically surviving, you don't have a lot of time for hobbies or recreation. I don't know what my hobbies are. Do video games count? I like video games, but that doesn't seem like a cool hobby. I've worked hard over the past year to do stuff with my life, mostly because it's stuff that's good to do in and of itself, but also so that when people ask what I do with my time, I have an answer. So many people I've met have hobbies that make them a part of groups, that take up whole weekends, that send them out of town. I want a hobby like that, but it's honestly hard for me to find and explore things that might interest me, because I don't fully know what interests me, and I don't even know how to give it a try.
It's a bit hard to explain in a way that makes sense. I either never had the time to try things, the opportunity to try things, or I wasn't allowed to try things. When I moved in to my new house I was so excited to decorate at first -- until I realized that I don't have any taste. I don't know what I want my house to look like, because I was never allowed to decorate. I've slowly found some things I like and enjoy in the house, but I'm still not completely there. I never thought it would be such a process to find interests.
4. Your party stories suck
Have you ever been with a group of people when they're talking about their childhood? It's filled with pleasant stories like "I had a go-kart when I was six" and "I took a trip to Greece" and "My mom and I made cupcakes together for a birthday party". Then they would look at me and all I would have to add was "I, uh, had to eat toilet paper because I had no food." Then you get looks. It's hard to explain that you couldn't bake cupcakes with your mom because she barely spoke to you.
If it's the first time you tell a story like this, people take pity on you. How strong you are. Good for you. But then after a while, people get tired of it. They start to sigh or roll their eyes, as if to say "Okay stop having had a sucky childhood". It sucks being the one who, when people reminisce about age 16, brings up how that's the first time her boyfriend punched her. So not only did life rob me of my childhood, it also robbed me of any decent stories I could have had.
5. It leads to some really positive things (in a really messed up way)
Enough of the negative, let's focus on the positive. While I'm the first to admit my faults, it's good to acknowledge my strengths once in a while. I would say that one of my biggest strengths came from my messed up life. I am a very giving person. I used to give presents to Santa on Christmas. One of the only times I got an allowance, I used it to adopt a whale. I will try to give whenever I can. I once gave up my food money for the week so my friend could pay for a cab to come and see me when she needed to talk. When I and the mentally challenged young boy I mentioned before were low on food, I'd always give what little we had to him.
I am a firm believer that you don't need to like someone to help them when they're in need. It isn't hard to help a friend or someone we like; it's much more challenging to sacrifice for someone we don't like or get along with. I'll always do my best to help when someone asks me, regardless of my history with them. I also make it a point to volunteer often. I have two organizations with which I volunteer regularly, and I take advantage of other volunteer opportunities when they come up.
There's always a positive, even if it's sometimes hard to find. I know what it's like to go through rough times, and I don't wish it on anyone else. I can't say I never sit here in self-pity, but I do try to take action to help others who may be struggling have a better life. Hopefully it'll make a difference.
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