What are some things you realize as you get older? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Sarah Rouan:
I'm about to be 33. So far, I've learned that:
- There is no magical point at which a grown person suddenly feels like an adult. I kept waiting for this to happen. Moved out of my childhood home, held down a job, paid the bills, got married (and ultimately divorced), started making 401(k) contributions... still don't have that feeling I was waiting for. I don't feel like a child, but I've never felt the way I always imagined real, legit adults must feel.
- There's also no magical point at which it becomes effortless to do the things that need to be done but aren't necessarily pleasant to do, like getting regular exercise and keeping up with the laundry, just because you're an adult now. I honestly think I believed that adulthood automatically triggered some sort of latent instinct for things like keeping a clean house and exercising self discipline while buying groceries for the week. Nope, that stuff requires effort. Damn.
- There are no mistakes or life experiences worth holding onto regret over. Marrying the wrong person, making a morally questionable decision, spending too much time and money pursuing the wrong career: all examples of mistakes that can be beneficial by helping us determine what we do want. Life experience is always valuable, especially if we're willing to set aside our regret and disappointment and mine those experiences for every possible lesson to be found in them.
- When it comes to romantic relationships, love isn't enough. Not even close. Two people can be wildly in love, but unless they're both dedicated to being their best selves independently of one another, and willing to accept the other person as they are, without the expectation that they will be able to change something about them that's less than ideal, the relationship will fail. Relationships require unwavering commitment, and they take work.
- No one is going to come to your rescue. You need to save yourself. Seeking help and support is fine and good, but you need to become your own hero and advocate. Life will be unfair, and there will be struggles, and you are the only one who can dig you out of a hole. Bitterness over the ways life has been unfair to you will only entrench you further.
- You can't wait for happiness. If you're constantly waiting for the next thing--a marriage proposal, a job offer, a baby, a bigger salary, owning a home, whatever--you will be hit, sooner or later, with the realization that life is quickly passing you by, and that you're missing it, because you're more focused on your future happiness than on the present. If you never gain that thing you've been waiting for, you'll have a sense of lost time, of life unsavored. If you do gain it, you'll find yourself focused on the next thing you hope to gain. It's a cycle and a trap. Live your life--time won't wait for you.