When I was a teenager, I thought I knew everything. I thought that my parents were lame and didn’t get how things were in today’s world. Then I got married and moved out. I started to see that maybe my parents weren’t so clueless after all. A couple years later, we moved and had our first baby. Again, my parents were suddenly making more sense. Now, after having a second baby, I can see just how much my parents do know. They DO get it. Instead of fighting against them and thinking I know everything, now I go to them for advice (it’s usually really good advice!) and I listen to them when they tell me something. My parents love me and still want what’s best for me, but also know that I’m an adult and they can’t make decisions for me anymore. In the last 6 years, I have learned a lot, but I realize that I have so much more to learn.
Here are a few of the things that I have learned over the years:
1. Just because you are 18, it doesn’t make you an adult.
Yes, technically and lawfully, you become an “adult” at 18 years old. However, being an adult is more than having the ability to move out or vote. Being an adult means taking care of business first. Pay your bills, go to work, put gas in your car. Do these things before you blow that money on games or clothes or going out with friends. It means that you take responsibility for yourself. When I was 19, I got married and moved out. I went straight from being with my parents to being married and on our own. I learned that just because I could do something didn’t mean that I should do it. Ice cream and candy is not a good breakfast. Your moms were right on that one.
2. Fairy tales are fiction. That stuff doesn’t happen in real life.
Like I mentioned before, I got married at a young age. My husband and I met in high school when I was 15 and he was 17, and we have been together ever since. When we got engaged, I was a typical 18 year old, and all I wanted was my perfect fairy tale life. I thought that Mark and I would get married in a beautiful ceremony, with me being a princess bride, live in our own house, and nothing would go wrong and we wouldn’t fight because we were so in love. We planned our wedding for a year, and yes, it was a beautiful ceremony and I wore a beautiful dress, but that’s about where my fairy tale ended. Within a few days of getting married, I had to take off work for nearly two months because of health problems. Six weeks after the wedding, I had major surgery. I had never had to deal with my own medical bills or insurance before. Little did I know that my insurance at the time had already reached the maximum benefits for the year and wouldn’t pay for the surgery. When money got tight, Mark and I argued. Fairy tales are not real. Real life is that stuff happens. Stuff happens that you aren’t expecting. You have to face those obstacles head on as an adult. It isn’t fun. If you are lucky, like me, you will have a great support system as an adult.
3. Your mom and dad had rules for a reason.
Some of the rules are for obvious reasons. Don’t skateboard on the frozen pond. Duh. You’ll probably fall in (and yes, we did try this as kids) and catch pneumonia. Some rules seemingly don’t have a use. My mom was constantly on to me to keep my room cleaned up. I didn’t see why it should bother her. She didn’t live in there. I see now that she was trying to prepare me for adulthood. She pushed me to do my best at everything I did, because she knew that one day, I would have to push myself. I hated that my parents wouldn’t let me wear mini skirts, short shorts, or anything else my peers thought were cute. I didn’t understand at 12 years old why they wouldn’t let me just fit in. After I started high school and met my future husband, and in turn, his family, I am so thankful that they instilled a sense of modesty in me. My husband and his family have told me several times that they are thankful that I didn’t go showing off everything and that they respected me for it.
4. You don’t know how strong you are until you have no choice.
This is one of those hard life lessons that you just have to learn through experience. As I stated before, life happens. Its not always easy, and it’s definitely not fair. For example, in the five and a half years since we got married, Mark and I have had to deal with major health problems, surgeries, losing jobs, filing bankruptcy, moving, miscarriages, foreclosing on our first house, suicides, losing very close friends and loved ones, two children with different health problems, and just the day-to-day stresses of being married and having kids. When facing life, it’s okay to get discouraged. Its okay to feel overwhelmed or disappointed. You have a choice in these situations, though. You can either wallow in self-pity or you can find a strength deep inside of you to carry on. The first choice is easiest. Carrying on, when your world is in chaos and crashing down around you is hard. Once you find that strength and use it, you will be better for it.
5. Family is everything.
Family are the only people who will always have your back. Be nice to them. Your brothers and sisters won’t always be there to tease you, and believe it or not, you’ll miss it. Be there for your family in both good and bad times. Be there for the small things as well as the bigger things. They need your support just as much (and sometimes more than) as you need theirs. Remember: Blood is thicker than water.
6. Save the drama.
Ugh. I wish I could go back in time and smack myself for being sucked into so much useless and unnecessary drama. Seriously, it’s not worth your time to Be involved in drama. Who cares if your ex’s best friend’s sister is dating your best friends ex? Who cares if that girl over there sleeps around? Keep things to yourself and stop gossiping. I promise you’ll be happier.