How to Feel More Vital and Self-Sustaining in a Few Simple Steps

I never wanted to be a kid. I was like a 35 year old trapped in a 9 year old body, eagerly anticipating a time when my peers would be more mature and I’d be taken seriously. Now that I actually am “an adult”– I feel thrown into a role that I wasn’t quite prepared for.

After writing Take Me Seriously, I thought I’d share the simple, but surprisingly meaningful, steps I’ve taken in the last six months that have ultimately made me feel just a little, teensy bit more “adult”. It’s all about feeling the need to depend on others for basic survival less and feeling comfortable relying on yourself more. I should feel empowered to go with my gut instincts because I, grown ass woman that I am, don’t need to waste time second guessing myself or my ability to take care of me–financially (because that’s kind of important), physically, and emotionally too (let’s not neglect this one just because the side effects aren’t always obvious). Sometimes–I find this to be especially true if you’ve ever struggled with codependency or been involved in a dominating relationship–you need to trick your brain at first and slowly introduce it to the idea that “I got this– all on my own”. You can trick your brain by performing simple tasks that, even if they seem meaningless on paper or silly in the moment, will actually begin to boost your confidence and aid you in taking the much bigger steps towards independence later down the line. Go with me on this– try out just a couple of these tasks at a time and feel the difference it makes!

“As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts.”
David Sedaris, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

  • Money Management— Is the prospect of sitting down at the computer and reviewing your checking account intimidating for you? It definitely was for me. There were totally times where I would literally say, “I’d rather not know” than open my Regions app. Trust me. Even if you’re not in a flourishing financial season, you will feel SO much better if you at least have a concrete knowledge of how much you make and where all your money is going. So you’re not great with numbers? Same. Not worries. Don’t be ashamed to ask a friend you trust for help. I happened to luck out in this department because one of my best friends is a financial advisor. We met for coffee and he helped me sort things out, prioritize what to save for and come up with a manageable budget. Sure, it was a little embarrassing at first to admit that like 50% of my earnings go towards buying all things lavender (or labeled “Stress Relief”), eating out and buying New York priced cocktails at East Nashville restaurants. It was also eye opening to see just how much money I had been spending on actor related things and even while I’m in an off-season, how much I still spend to maintain progress and staying relevant in this career–headshots, an actor website, books and plays, classes, show tickets, etc. Try to avoid judgement as you honestly look at your finances. After you take the time to figure out your income and set achievable goals, find an app (there are PLENTY to chose from Mint, Wally, and Tycoon are just a few… the latter is great for freelancers) or even just take pen to paper–get a purse-sized notebook from the Dollar Tree (don’t like carrying around notepads? Use the Notes app on your phone!) and keep daily tabs on what your spending, constantly checking in with your weekly spending target. The big thing, for me, was to start saving (no matter how small) and start viewing my spending target as “fun money”; money I get to use rather than “this is all I’ve got”. For instance, when I was in Philly I was on a $10 a day budget… this sounds horrible and it is… But! It doesn’t have to be if you think, “I get to spend $10 today”. It’s certainly not much and I’m glad it didn’t last forever, but even with $10, I was able to buy coffee, take a cheap yoga class, or splurge on a lunch special. Create a budget and find ways to cherish what money you do have.
  • Set Reminders for Yourself— This is an easy way to avoid frequent “oops moments”–believe me, I have them a lot– and therefore, grow in credibility with others and yourself. The more people can rely on you and the more you can rely on yourself, the more you’re going to feel like a functioning adult and less like a clueless teenager who still needs their mom to wake them up before missing the bus. These reminders can be in the form of Post-It notes around your living space or on your phone, set to pop up and remind you that you have an adult task you need to take care of. For example, my phone reminds me every Sunday that I need to take out the trash. I live with three other humans, but why wait and see if one of them does it when I can just do it myself and be done with it? Remind yourself: wash your sheets, pay the bills, respond to your emails, get your oil changed, rotate your tires, call so-and-so back, etc. All those things that your dad would typically nag you about when you lived at home– reprogram your brain to get in the habit of doing these things for yourself. Your dad’s not here to tell you to turn the lights off– don’t let a ridiculous electric bill be your reminder. Honestly, I’m obsessed with reminders. I even set reminders to meditate during my busiest work days. Remind yourself until it becomes habit. 
  • Set a creative goal— Whether its a long term project like writing a novel or redecorating a room in your home, or a small task like trying out a DIY craft or  baking a cake from scratch– I find that having a creative goal to look forward to chipping away at makes all those adults things during the day much easier to endure.
  • Make a list— As I discussed in Absolute Free Happiness, list-making grants me a sense of accomplishment and productivity every time I check something off. As nerdy as it might sound,  I find it very thrilling to create lists for daily tasks. Do laundry (check!), grocery shop (check!), unload the dishwater (check!). Even if it took no time, thought or skill at all, it’s incredibly relieving to see a completed check list.
  • Invest in a planner— Along with making lists, it also feels good to view a laid out schedule and actually pencil appointments in on paper. I found having a paper planner to be super helpful, especially when I was mostly making money through freelance work. Not only did this practice help me sort out my crazy schedule, but I would also write down how much I would be paid per gig and when I could expect to see that payment. Let’s be real, you probably already have all your shit plugged into your phone, but honestly, having a paper planner means that you can spend a little less time being completely glued to and dependent on a screen. That’s always a plus, in my opinion. You don’t need anything fancy, but I am always more inspired to use my planner if it’s small, cute and fits my style.
  • Celebrate the small things! I hate flossing. I hate cleaning the shower. But you know what? After I do those things I celebrate the fact that I did it by doing something I actually like– reading a book, calling a friend, watching Fixer Upper. Why do I have two pints of Halo Top in my freezer right now? Because I flossed for two weeks in a row. Counterproductive? Maybe. But, you get the point.
  • Meal prepping— I was super resistant to this one at first, but I will admit that it makes my life at least 45% easier. I teach until 9pm Monday–Wednesday and my options for when I can eat dinner are either at the acting stdio during a rushed break, or when I get home from work (usually around 9:30pm). I realized immediately that the last thing I wanted to do after teaching and being on my feet all day was take the time to cook a meal. On the other hand, I didn’t want to spend the money (or feel unhealthy) by constantly getting fast food or warming up a microwave dinner. This is when I came to the conclusion that “Yes, I can be one of those domestic divas that preps meals in advance and no, I don’t need to be a finalist on Top Chef to do so.” The site I pull from most often is by writer, Anisha Jhaveri. Her article on Greatist.com, “30-Minute-Meal-Prep Recipes So You Aren’t Spending Sunday in the Kitchen” has been a lifesaver. (I highly recommend the sriracha meatballs!!)
  • Get organized— Go through your closets, your drawers, cabinets, and even under the bed. Start piling all the junk you don’t need or haven’t seen or worn since last year into a Goodwill box and haul it straight to your car, to the Donation Center and out of your life. Invest in some drawer separators, under the bed bins and sturdy hangers that didn’t come from the dry cleaners. Go to Walmart or Targe if you’re feeling it– once again, nothing fancy required. I’m not trying to break the bank at Pottery Barn, ya girl’s just trying to have separation between clean underwear and sports bras. There is something cathartic about giving away junk you no longer need. I also believe that a cluttered space means a cluttered mind. You may not feel that you  have complete and immediate control over your anxiety or racing thoughts, but you can clean out a single bathroom drawer and I promise you will feel just a bit more “in control” for doing so.
  • Take care of something— While in an ideal world, I would embrace my inherit cat-lady nature (my parents have three cats currently and have always, all my childhood, had multiple cats), my boyfriend is not the biggest fan of them… not to mention, we have a relatively small bedroom inside a house that we share with two other people and more importantly, my roommate’s dog that demands to be the only pet in the house. I love my roommate’s dog dearly, but I really wanted something of my own that I was responsible for. I decided–today, actually– to adopt a comfort fish. A lonely looking lavender female beta caught my eye at PetSmart and I knew she belonged to me. I thought, “No one ever wants the female betas” and “No one will want her because she’s so small”. And then I realized that this little fish and I had a lot in common: I have many times felt too small both in statue and in presence. I’ve felt inadequate and passed over plenty of times. So I bought the tiny fish and gave her a big name– Khaleesi (AKA Mother of Dragons, for you Game of Thrones fans out there).

IMG_6616

  • Identify what you have to offer— This is a step that I frequently revisit. It was essential when I was job hunting, but its also nice to examine even if you’re currently satisfied with your work place because it reminds you that you have a lot to bring to the table. What do you have to offer? What skills do you have? What quirks or characteristics do you possess that make you relatable, draw people in, and set you apart. Part of feeling vital is feeling as though who you are and what you have to offer can be essential to someone or something and has a purpose in this world. No one has your exact personality. No one can do exactly what you can do in the way that you can. Know that. Trust that. Embrace that.

“I believe that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise.”
Margaret Atwood

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