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A note of encouragement when adulting feels hard.

Today’s post is not an article. 

Today’s post is a letter, written from me to you, as I sit in my soundproofed, converted garage turned quarantine-home-office in late Summer 2020.

A letter that you may or may not need but one that I hope you bookmark for days and weeks that feel hard. That feel impossible. When adulting feels like it might break you. 

A note of encouragement when adulting feels hard.

It’s a letter that will, I hope, help you feel less alone, more seen, and a letter that will buoy your spirits and give you even an ounce more hope and comfort in hard, heavy times as you adult. 

So please, if you need a note of encouragement for when adulting, keep reading to feel supported. 

A note of encouragement for when adulting feels hard.

Honey. 

No one, and I mean no one, told you that being an adult would feel this hard. 

No one told you that adulthood can sometimes feel like being a firefighter in Northern California in fire season: exhausted, weary, with no end in sight to your shift, and yet in charge of beating down fire after fire as crises and unexpected events emerge seemingly again and again. 

The buck stopping with you and no one else.

Sex And The City, MTV’s Real World, Friends, and definitely not Gilmore Girls prepared you for the grind that can sometimes feel like adulthood.

(It always looked so much more fun for them, didn’t it?)

No one told you that adulthood would sometimes feel like its own version of Groundhog day: a repeating loop of sleep, household chores, work to pay the bills, more chores, putting everyone to bed, and then one precious hour of escape into Netflix and late-night snacking before passing out and doing it all over again.

You’ve been told to #liveyourbestlife.

Instagram (that sneaky beast!) reminds you that some people seemingly are: sunshiney trips to Bali, whitewashed Swedish minimalist farmhouses, five-year anniversaries #marriedtomybestfriend, converted sprinter vans and road trips to glaciers and redwoods, Marie Kondo’d everything, sourdough bread baking, and chalkboard paint crafts, and quote after quote remind you to enjoy every single moment of motherhood because it goes by way too fast. 

Is this the standard you’re holding yourself to? 

Is this the bar you feel like you’re falling short of? 

Are you afraid you’re #notlivingyourbestlife?

FORGET THAT. Let it go. 

Let that curated, often kid-free and certainly, highly edited version of adulthood be a social media fantasy. 

The same kind of fantasy that you escape into like Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey.

Forget #livingyourbestlife.

Instead, embrace #sometimesadulthoodisjustsurvival.

Some days, like today, like all the days of this month, adulthood can look like just trying to survive. 

To parent without having a nervous breakdown. 

To work the bare minimum without losing your job. 

To keep the house clean and safe enough so no one gets sick or injured. 

To feel like you’re giving everything the bare minimum, that seemingly everyone is upset with you for not giving more, and feeling at the edge because you truly don’t know how to give or do more.

Embrace the fact that, for most of us as adults, life doesn’t look like coordinated white outfits against tidy living room backgrounds, frequent international travel, and hot sex with our spouses after we’ve been together for more than two years. 

Instead, adulthood often looks like showing up to work on four hours of sleep because your toddler is teething and choosing to wear glasses versus contacts so no one will see your dark circles over Zoom. 

Understand that, for most of us, our houses are in a constant state of clutter and, despite our efforts, our kids occasionally find and eat old raisins and stale popcorn from the floors in various rooms.

Really get that, although we promised ourselves we’d be screen-free parents, our kids are watching more Youtube than we ever dreamed, just so we can unload the dishwasher, switch out the laundry, and put the dinner into the Instant Pot in peace. 

Recognize that adulthood, for many of us, looks like laboring from the moment we get up to the moment we put the kids to bed, with barely an ounce of energy left for nighttime romance with our partner (or anything that requires brain cells and energy).

Please understand that adulthood is composed of so much mundanity: coordinating childcare and feeling your world halt to a grind if you lose it; a never-ending loop of making people meals, cleaning up after meals, loading and unloading the dishwasher and realizing you’re running out of groceries again; gathering up all the laundry all over the house, loading and unloading the washer and dryer and having no clue how your household generates this much laundry.

And this is all BEFORE things like global pandemics, race riots, fascism, corrupted elections, heatwaves, rolling blackouts, environmental catastrophes, and wildfire season. 

Adulting is so, so much harder than almost anyone talks about. 

Yes, there are awesome, wonderful moments to it – your child’s goofball sense of humor, the freedom to buy $50 of gelato in the weekly grocery order if you so choose, an endless library of escapist streaming TV to disappear into. 

All of this is true. But what is also true is this: Adulthood is so, so hard sometimes. 

So if you’re struggling, if you’re feeling overwhelmed today, this week, this month, this year, please know that that is an appropriate response to your situation.

It makes sense that you would be overwhelmed. 

It makes sense that you would be struggling.

You’re not failing as an adult. 

You’re just an adult having a normal adulting experience.

It’s so hard, honey. 

Especially if you’re a parent. Especially if you don’t have parents yourself you can count on. 

Especially if your childcare is compromised, if you’re dealing with extraordinary, extraneous pressure on top of all the inherent pressures of being an adult alive today.

So please, if you’re reading this, I hope some part of you, any small part of you, can relax and feel a little more seen and a little less self-judgemental by seeing my words: being an adult is hard for most of us. 

And here’s something else I want to say to you: these challenging times you’re going through will, like a glacier carving out a valley slowly over time, carve out wide and deep capacities within you to tolerate this and so much more. 

You are becoming a remarkably strong, capable, resilient person by virtue of moving through these experiences (and yes, I know it may not always feel like that while you’re in the thick of it). 

You are becoming a person others look up to. 

You are becoming one of those wise, deep elders whose broad shoulders can hold so much strain with ease because of the grit they earned over a lifetime.

Trust that, at some level, because of moving through all of this grind, all of this struggle, you will reap the rewards someday, if only in marveling at how you moved through it all. 

And bear in mind this quote by Thomas Carlyle: “No pressure, no diamonds.”

Seek out self-soothing tools and supports. Resource yourself abundantly

But also let it be okay if you need to eat popcorn and gummy bears for dinner and disappear into Queer Eye just to get a break from your life.

Adulting is hard and if you’re struggling, if you feel overwhelmed, you are NOT alone. 

You are not failing. You are not less capable than anyone else. 

You’re having an appropriate response to your circumstances.

Take such good care of yourself, be gentle on how you judge yourself right now and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m in this with you.

Warmly, Annie

Medical Disclaimer

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  1. Laura Grolla on  

    This was good to read today. I like that you always sign “warmly Annie” because these are cold and precarious times. And trying every day to face the present AND the patterns of the past is doubly taxing in this world. I loved that eating Gummie Bears for dinner is ok. As is potato chips and shredded cheese.

    • Bonnie on  

      Yes, I to just love the way Annie always signs Warmly, Annie. I look forward to reading her newsletters every two weeks. They have helped. I feel calmer when I read them. She always puts ? percent into each one.

    • Bonnie on  

      Yes, I to just love the way Annie always signs Warmly, Annie. I look forward to reading her newsletters every two weeks. They have helped. I feel calmer when I read them. She always puts ? percent into each one. Life at times is very hard but it is so good to be able to read whatever Annie writes. If she could help the world I am sure she would.

      • Annie on  

        Bonnie, that is so kind. It makes me glad to know you may have felt a little more seen by my words. That’s always my hope when I write. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Warmly, Annie

    • Annie on  

      Laura, thank you so much for your kind words. These are trying times, so if I can bring little warmth into the world, then I am so glad. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts. I’m wishing you all my best and hope that you and those you love are staying well and healthy. Warmly, Annie

  2. Maggie on  

    Could you consider mentioning motherhood or parenting in the title of this article, since it’s directed at parents? I was looking for some comfort with the feelings you described, and while this helped a bit, it also made me feel terrified for the next stage of my life that includes kids. If I’m already feeling all of these feelings you’re talking about, how am I possibly going to be able to handle parenting? I tend to avoid “parenting struggle” articles because they trigger this for me, so a warning would have been helpful.

    I do appreciate your work.

    • Annie on  

      Hi Maggie, I’m so sorry this post felt triggering to you. I will do my best to add additional context to my posts when I think they may not articulate the content clearly and be triggering for some. So again, thank you for this valuable feedback, Maggie. And I will say – as someone who felt all these feelings before becoming a parent myself – my capacity for stress and resiliency is actually bigger and stronger after having my daughter. We so often talk about how hard becoming a parent is that we fail to mention how much stronger, more resilient, and more capable most of us become in the process of being parents. I wanted to plant that seed of possibility for you in case it feels helpful. Warmly, Annie

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