Smalls’ Thoughts on Being a Real Adult Now

If you’re a regular Thoughts From The Bench reader, you might have noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from writing the last few weeks. Even before that, my writing had still been coming out at a slower pace than normal. A major reason for this has been because TFTB’s resident college student is no longer a college student. That’s right, I’ve graduated and have been trying to transition to a new career in a new city.

It’s been a weird transition to say the least. After spending so much time in State College (a.k.a. the Undergrad Promised Land), I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be a real person yet. And boy, I had no clue what was actually coming.

Adulthood is the weirdest s**t ever.

If you’ve been in the workforce or out of school for a few years now, this probably sounds dramatic to you. I get it. Getting a job and waking up before 10 a.m. is a normal part of growing up that most people can get used to, or at the very least learn to tolerate. However, I’m still only in the first stage of grief not being a care-free college student: denial. In my mind, the full-time job I just started is just another internship that is gonna end in three months. So cut me some slack, I’m still in my adjustment period. It definitely hasn’t been bad, just SUPER different than what I’ve gotten used to.

One of the things I love about being able to write for TFTB is that it’s an entertaining (at least for me) way to deal with everyday life. And since my everyday life has been has been pretty chaotic lately, I wanted to get back to doing it again. With that being said, I’m here to report some of my findings and observations through the first few weeks of being a real member of the adult world. Hopefully, this resonates with those of you who went through this adjustment period a few years ago. If not, I guess I’m doing this adult thing all wrong and have been doomed from the very start.

#1: The sound of my cell phone alarm in the morning is already the worst sound I’ve ever heard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I really do not dread going to work every day. But holy s**t, if I hear the sound of the “Bright Morning” ringtone come out of my phone speakers one more time, I’m throwing hands with the first person to give me a wrong look. It’s maddening. Part of it’s my fault because I have to set five different alarms to make sure I actually wake up, so I hear it at least five times (not even counting the alarms I’ve snooze-buttoned). I realize I should switch up the ringtone every once in a while, but the last thing I wanna do is pick a song I currently love and have it ruined after hearing it every morning as I try to scrape myself out of bed. I still shudder every time I hear the phrase “haters in the building” after having “Right Above It” as my alarm for, like, three months too long in college. I’m not dissing the song. It’s an all-timer, but the first five seconds still give me nightmares. So if any of you have advice for picking an alarm sound that won’t cause a mental breakdown every weekday morning, please let me know.

#2: The small talk about weather isn’t a myth.

This one gets me every time I hear it. I hear something along the lines of “damn, it’s another hot one today” almost every single morning. It’s definitely a small minority of people in the office, but hearing it only once is more than enough. Most of the time, whoever says it knows they’re being THAT guy, and you can see it in their face as soon as the words leave their mouth. They know they’re the worst. Usually, the only response I can muster in my pre-caffeinated state is “I know, right?” I hate myself for feeding into it, but how else are you supposed to respond to that? I’m just praying that real life doesn’t crush me to the point where I start greeting people by making vanilla comments about the weather that morning. “Have you ever been in a storm, Wally?”

#3: Apparently, having a 9-to-5 job makes you forget how to use your turn signal while switching lanes.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The stress from my new job won’t be the reason for my inevitable high blood pressure diagnosis. It will 1000% be the people who forget how to drive once they hop in their car at 5. It’s a turn signal. It’s literally one of the first things your parents show you before shifting into “Drive” at age sixteen. But I guess it’s too much to ask for.

#4: The Nerf football, Nerf basketball, tennis ball, etc. is an essential item for your desk at work.

For my second week of work, I decided to bring in this blue racquetball to keep at my desk during the day. And you know what? I haven’t looked back since. I can’t function without it now. Whether I bounce it, squeeze it, or toss it to a co-worker, that thing will absolutely make my day better. I probably have it in my hand a third of the day, at least. It relieves a ton of the work-related stress and usually keeps my mind on the task at hand. I have zero scientific evidence to back that up, but I definitely feel like it makes a difference. Really, there are tons of things that would work. I just think the beauty of a foam football, basketball, etc. is that it can get your coworkers involved as well. An office-wide free throw contest to break up the day? Sign me up.

#5: Real-person money is cool, but real-person hangovers aren’t.

I realize I have rent, gas, insurance, groceries, and a 401k to pour money into, but at least it’s my own money now. And it also feels nice to know exactly when and how much your next paycheck is. Now, when I go spend an ungodly amount of money on poorly-made mixed drinks out at the bar on a Friday night, I at least know when the next deposit is. Steady income is a blessing. You know what’s not a blessing? Dealing with the hangover caused by those poorly-made mixed drinks. I don’t think I was an animal by any stretch of the imagination when it came to alcohol consumption as an undergrad, but wow, my body now completely shuts down the next day. The equivalent of a light night of drinking in school now means paralysis for me the morning after. What’s the point of having real-person money if you use said real-person money to guarantee an all-day appointment with your bed and a few bottles of Pedialyte? What a shame.

So there you have it. Those are my initial thoughts as a new young professional. Hopefully, I didn’t paint too bleak of a picture of post-grad life, it will definitely have its perks. I’m just still in that weird transition phase between having zero responsibility in school and having to be a contributing(ish) member of society. Hopefully, I grow into it and start thriving sooner rather than later.

And if I don’t, there’s still one thing that will keep me afloat: only 49 days til College Football is back.

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