The Messy Matter of Modern Adulthood

Emily J. Smith
6 min readJan 6, 2023

When choosing the life you love doesn’t mean loving your life

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Recently, a friend told me she was proud of me “for choosing the life I love.” It was admittedly very kind, but it couldn’t have felt further from the truth.

What she meant was that she was proud of me for, in her mind, choosing an atypical sort of adulthood, one based on what I valued, rather than what society generally expects. Specifically, I’d left my on-the-track corporate career a few years back to pursue creative writing and start my own company, I’ve opted not to have children (at least for now, which, at forty, might mean forever), and have recently been pursuing a path of theoretical freedom and flexibility.

“I chose what I love,” I agreed, “but that definitely doesn’t mean I love my life.”

I had to laugh.

In the last few months, I’ve felt utterly unmoored. In an attempt at an end-of-year summary, I wondered if this feeling I can’t seem to shake — that nothing matters and I’ve more or less done everything wrong — “Is being 40 or just living In 2022?” In the end, I decided it was actually just my depression flaring up and aborted the essay…



Emily J. Smith

Writer and tech professional. My debut novel, NOTHING SERIOUS, is out Feb '25 from William Morrow / HarperCollins (more at