Adulthood comes in waves and sometimes tsunamis. At nineteen, I am right in the middle of some hardcore growing up. People have warned me about many aspects of it (“It goes so fast!” “You always feel unprepared!” “Enjoy each stage because you can’t get it back!” “Work and responsibility only increases!”) but, however true, these cliches don’t cover the little things, the everyday things.
Maintenance is one of those things. What do I mean by maintenance? A realization that adult life consists of continually repeating the same things in order to maintain an acceptable level of quality.
Fingernails are the perfect example. When I was a younger girl, it was alright to have poorly-painted, chipped, wacky nail polish. I painted my nails when I felt like it. I took the polish off when I felt like it. And if it looked bad at any stage in this process, oh well. You are forgiven many things at thirteen.
Now, my nails have come to require much more maintenance. They must be neat and clean for work. Chipped polish is an indictment on my character, however nominal. It communicates laziness, irresponsibility, poor hygiene. Multiply this principle by the few thousand tasks adulthood entails, and the maintenance is staggering.
Finances, yard-work, relationships (especially long-distance ones), cooking, haircuts, physical fitness, wardrobes, employment, vehicles, belongings – adult life is almost completely consumed by maintaining stasis in all these areas. And while there is life and joy in that, it is much, much different than childhood – when someone is managing all these things for you and leaving you free to paint your nails.