Recently, I’ve been finding myself playing “grown-up” at some of the local bars, legally enjoying an alcoholic beverage (or two), trying to look the part of the adult that, as a kid, I envisioned myself becoming one day. However, the sad truth is that I’m still living with my parents, earning less than ten an hour making coffee, nowhere nearer to adulthood than four years ago when I completed high school. I envy my friends, one by one moving out of their parents’ places and renting their own apartments, driving their own cars. And every night after I finish at the bar (not every night), I walk back home to my garage, behind my mom’s house, and slip into the same pair of pajamas I’ve been rocking since way back in middle school.
It was on one of these nights out at the bar that I drunkenly stumbled across some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. I was sitting at the bar, next to a guy about my age, maybe a few years older—nicely dressed and pressed—very successful. Very grown-up. He struck up a conversation with me and admitted he was new to “adult” life. He had moved out of his parents’ house a couple days before and was living alone for his first time, supporting himself, making a decent, livable income in the financial district of San Francisco. A couple friends of mine were also moving to the city, finally leaving the nest for their first time, so I asked the guy for some advice. People in bars are always offering advice, and rarely is it quality enough to follow, but I’ll live by this advice until the day I die:
“When you move out of your parents’ house for the first time, it’s easy to let your freedom get the best of you,” he said. “The trick is to live as though you’re still trying to impress your parents. Internalize their tedious, annoying rules. Make your bed in the morning. Put your dishes away when you finish your dinner. Don’t let your new place become a pig sty just because you live alone.” That may not be verbatim, but something to that effect. Then he went on, “Better yet, live every day like you might meet the love of your life at any minute and have to take them home later that night, and you don’t want your place to be a dump when you do.”
He went on to explain that one of two things could happen if you insist on living in a mess: 1) You bring your potential soul-mate back to your place, and your dirty habits are a deal-breaker, and it’s over, or 2) You bring them home and they have no problem sitting on a filthy heap of laundry or eating off a stack of dirty dishes, in which case, you probably don’t want to date them anyway. There is no happy ending if you’re living in a dump, so clean it up. It’s simple. That may be tipsy logic, but it’s true, and I stand by it. Tidy up.
Although I still live with my parents, I’ve been trying to adopt some healthy habits, keeping my place neat and tidy enough to pass for an actual adult. It isn’t easy, especially when I’m this lazy, but don’t let yourself look for excuses. If you don’t clean up after yourself then no one will. Embrace your independence. Tend to it. Don’t let your freedom get the best of you. Grow up.