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No one is ever “ready” for responsibility. However, I have come to realize that we start to feel a need for more responsibility as we go through the twenty-something labyrinth. Somewhere between those Fireball shots and 2 p.m. “mornings,” everyone starts to grow up and want/need to live that adult-ish life. And that’s how we start taking on more responsibility.
You’ll know more responsibility is right when it scares the life out of you, but the idea of being a boss with your bills, job, and laundry remains exciting. I knew I was ready for the responsibility of another life when my stomach knotted up, I became nervous, and yet I was still pumped at the thought of walking a puppy three times a day, waking up all hours of the night to take one outside, and to trade in my late nights at the bar for early nights cuddling on the couch. At age 25, I realized I was ready to become a (proud) dog mom.
I’m a firm believer when something is right for you, you’ll know it way deep down no matter how scary or overwhelming it is.
1. Good Scary vs. Bad Scary
Even though those divine moments of realizations are clouded with fear, not every feeling of fear is a good one. If you find yourself outright terrified to your core and lacking any kind of excitement, it’s safe to say you shouldn’t take on whatever new responsibility you’re looking at. If you think you’re experiencing this type of fear, stop to think everything through before making anything official.
Don’t go look at puppies unless you’re 300% sure you’re ready for the commitment despite the scary unknowns. Don’t sign on the dotted line if fear is screaming no inside your head.
Sometimes we need to overcome fear, and sometimes we need to sit down, shut up, and listen to it.
2. Responsibility Shoulds vs. Responsibility Musts
There are some responsibilities in life we’re told we should take on because it’s just the way things are or the natural progression of life. Bologna. Not everyone should take on the responsibility of having children. That’s not the right life choice for every single person in the world. Same goes for mortgages, marriages, and plants. Other adults might be doing the traditional marriage, babies, home ownership, one dog, one cat, and a pet turtle thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to have the exact same responsibilities. Maybe your responsibility is mentoring underprivileged kids instead of giving birth to your own. Maybe it’s digging trenches for water lines in poor communities.
It’s important to learn the difference between responsibilities you truly want to take on and ones you simply feel like you should. I recently realized I want to become a homeowner. Not because I’m 25 and think that’s what a 25 year old is supposed to do, but because I truly want to cultivate my own home and be the boss of it. Before you take on any type of major responsibility, think about if it’s something you truly want and crave or something you feel societal pressure to handle.
3. The Logistics
Logistically speaking however, there are some things you should consider before taking on certain responsibilities. Money, time, and long-term plans all need to be accounted for first. For major purchases, like cars, you need to sit down for a serious look at your financial situation. You shouldn’t take on any type of large monthly payment if you can’t pay for it and still have money to survive. It might seem like you can make it work in the abstract, but refraining from ever buying lunch again is not as easy as you think it is.
When it comes to taking on a mortgage, you have to consider how a down payment will hit your savings. You shouldn’t use all of your savings for a down payment. That’s basically like asking the universe to screw you over as soon as you move into your new house. You have to have enough saved to make a down payment and still have something in your savings just in case the worst happens.
In the event that you want to take on the responsibility of keeping another living thing alive, you need to really think about it. And not just for one day; you need to think about it for months in order to be sure it’s something you’re prepared for and not actually something you just want in the future.
Dogs, cats, and babies all demand a lot of time, patience, and attention. So unless you’re okay with entirely changing your lifestyle, you need to wait on all three of them. On top of time, they all require a lot of money. Between food, toys, clothing, and doctor/vet visits, pets and children will use up most of your money. This is something you have to be okay with because it means there will be less money for the things you want.
All major decisions require self-reflection and preparation. Wanting to adopt more responsibility in your life is a great thing, and something you should do if it does feel right, but it’s also something you should never take lightly. Responsibilities aren’t things you can drop when the going gets tough. Your desire to be responsible, independent, and reliable needs to be tougher than any of the demands.