It was 5 p.m. on a Monday and I was having a mini-crisis in the grocery store.
As I walked to the check-out line, arms filled with my food items, I thought about the dinner I was going to make later. I had some spaghetti I could throw into a pot, some marinara sauce I could heat up in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl, and I was currently buying some parmesan cheese to sprinkle over it. A meal I’d scarf down in my residence hall’s lounge before heading off to a club meeting. That’s when a cold chill began to sweep through my body. The cheese in my hands was four dollars and the milk I had pressed against my thigh was two dollars. Would it have been less expensive to go to the store on campus? Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?
There I was standing in line, holding six dollars worth of food, debating whether or not to pay for it there or go all the way back to my university where the price may be equal or even more. That’s when it hit me. I was having an adulting moment.
We want to grow up until we don’t.
When I was fifteen, I desperately wanted to be sixteen, into the world of driving and making my mother crazy with fear. When I was sixteen, I wanted to be the dancing queen. When I was seventeen, I wanted to be eighteen. I wanted to vote and no longer be a minor.
I’m nineteen now, not old at all, and not yet an adult. I dream of being older, I do. Twenty one at least, so I can sit at the bar with my mom and sister instead of awkwardly milling behind their chairs and stealing a sip of their drinks every now and then. But, then, the thought of being an adult terrifies me.
I’m a college student and I have a firm belief that college students are half-adult, half-infant. We have to wake ourselves up and make our own meals, but we also have wacky sleep schedules and cry throughout the day. We’ve made huge financial decisions already and yet, it’s not uncommon to find us watching cartoons without any pants on at any given time of day. We also, like infants, occasionally need support walking, but that’s a whole different story.
I’m afforded glimpses into adulthood. Like when I burn my mediocre carb-filled meal and decide to order Chinese food. Like when I get emails from the bank about my student loans. Like when my adviser says I can graduate a year early which means I would be a college graduate before I could legally drink alcohol.
Even worse, this summer, for ten days, my sister and I got the chance to play house while my parents and younger brother were away in Europe, my parents shadowing my brother’s choir trip. I imagined it would be great. Ten days without any parents! Partying and adult-life, am I right? The latter was true. My sister and I worked 9 to 5 every day, at the YMCA summer camp and local library respectfully. After work, we might take a dip in the pool or my sister might invite her friends over for some wine and chatting in the backyard, but most of the time we were too exhausted from working with children all day to do too much. One evening, while driving home, and while I was plotting my Stop ‘n Shop trip for the next day for re-stock on lean cuisines, it hit me: is this adult life? This is the glamour I’d imagined?
Because I do dream of glamour. I dream of business casual clothing (which I’m a huge fan of), decorating an apartment, and dinner parties. I dream of happy hour after work and classy clubs.
I want to grow up until I don’t.
And that’s okay. College life is glamorous in some ways (like the time my friends and I dressed up for the Founder’s Day dance, got soaked in a snow/rain storm and still had an amazing time) and glamour-less in other ways (like those nights spent casually crying into ramen while doing homework in bed). That’s life. It’s okay to be afraid to adult. You don’t need to have it all figured out.
But it’s important to be ready. I keep a long list of long-term and short-term goals. Some are a bit larger than others, but I treat them all with equal pride and I treat my successes and failures with every single goal as I transition into adulthood as a learning experience.
I imagine I’ll still be calling my mom for advice when I’m 40, but that’s another thing. Don’t ever think you need to go into adulthood alone. Utilize your resources, build a support group.
I’m 19, but I’m excited to be 20 and longing for 18. I’m terrified of adulthood, but I’m ready to take on what it has to offer me.