I never thought the word “grownup” would refer to me—I was happy to be a manchild. But I’m starting to understand that being an adult requires an adjustment in priorities whether it’s comfortable or not.
The epiphany came after dating a man who had all his sh*t together. You see, I was stupid enough to associate myself with an unproductive group of kids after college that my life started to mirror theirs. I didn’t want things to change. I thought college parties, sleeping till two, hooking up, dorm life and never-ending keg stands would last forever. It didn’t.
Meeting a guy who’s already bought a house, paid off his student loans, and dare I say, has a car in New York City, was intimidating. I’m still that friend who needs to check his bank account every five seconds in case something unforeseen went through that will prevent me from buying groceries—and by groceries I mean a couple Cliff bars and a Gatorade. But he’s taught me incredible things about relationships and personal evolvement than anyone I’ve ever dated.
Money and possessions don’t matter when it comes to love. We’re all afraid of being judged because, as millenials, we have anxiety with success. We graduated at the peek of the recession, a time when there were very little opportunities, and still contain a bit of hopelessness when it comes to our own potential. These aspects come back to haunt us in our relationships, so seeing a man who’s more well off than we are makes us feel like we did something wrong.
We did nothing wrong. Everyone is born to a different circumstance and we’re all doing the best we can with that circumstance. Making lemons into lemonade is the name of the game, so being around a man who’s made a hell of a lemonade stand inspired me to think of my own situation and how I can change it, but first I had to get out of my head.
He isn’t any better than me, so I had to stop telling myself he was. This isn’t Pride & Prejudice. A man’s character isn’t defined by how much money he brings in, or at least it shouldn’t be. Nowadays as the middle class is getting smaller and smaller, America is shifting its point of views about love in an interesting way. Young people are seeing each other for who they are because we’re on the same level. If a man boasts with pride about how much he has, he’s clearly letting these things define him—deep down he’s hollow. That’s the truth.
Being jealous or resentful is pointless because it does nothing but distract you. It’s not a competition. The only person you should be competing with is yourself, otherwise your emotions will self-destruct. It’s impossible to be happy when you never think you’re where you need to be. Everyone should strive to grow, but only for spiritual enlightenment and artistic accomplishment, never to brag or to shove it in people’s faces.
The one thing you must hold onto is an identity. Comparing yourself to him will inspire you to shape your state of mind into something unfamiliar—you think you need to be more like him when really you ought to stick with what you know. Your journey isn’t like his. It’s different. The sooner you accept that the better.
Everyone is born to do something different in life. Some are teachers, some are creators, and others are merely meant to inspire. We all have a different hat at various times in our lives, and dating a man who’s figured it out will allow you to do the same. But first you must own thyself. His accomplishments have nothing to do with you. Being a grownup doesn’t mean you need to change the things that make you happy, but it does mean you need to start growing up rather than growing down—which is easier than you think. All you need to do is look up.