I moved out of my parent’s house three months after turning eighteen. For almost two years now I have lived in a shared apartment over an hour away from “home” where I pay for my own things, work a part-time job, and go to school full time. I have never been more stressed in my life.
I pay bills, do laundry, grocery shop, go to work, and all of the other fun things adults do while studying for midterms, writing research papers, and making sure my homework is done. This is not at all how I imagined adulthood. In elementary and high school, I looked up to people who were in college and starting their lives because they seemed to have their life together; I wanted to be like them. They knew what they wanted to do with their lives and were going after it. These people were my role models and made me anxious to grow up so I could be just like them.
I look back now and realize how much of a hurry I was to get through high school so I could grow up and start my life. I thought that by moving out I could make my own rules and do as I please; the freedom of being away from your parents seemed exhilarating. I would be on my way to starting the career I had always dreamed of, while being able to spend as much time as I wanted with my friends. College seemed like the most stress-free, care-free place to be at the time.
Now that I’m in college, I realize how much a false idea “having your life together” is. Does anyone in college really have their life together? Does any adult actually have their life together? I know that I sure don’t. The idea of college being stress-free and care-free is the furthest thing from the truth. While I do get to make my own rules, that doesn’t mean I always get to do as I please. My rules include things like money management so I can pay my rent on time or cutting my time short with my friends because I have a test the next morning. The exhilaration of being away from my parents lasted about a week – now I’m fully responsible for myself and staying alive. It is no longer their job to make sure there is food on my table, that I’m getting to school on time, or that my laundry is cleaned and put away. Being on my own means sometimes I eat crackers for supper because I can’t handle making a healthy, full course meal or learning that it is true when they say don’t wash your reds and whites together (yes, I accidentally washed a new red dress with my white tank tops and am now the proud owner pink tank tops).
And then there is the idea that I would be on the way to starting the career I had always dreamed of. Never in my life have I questioned my future more than while at college. On a daily basis I have to ask myself, “is this really what I want to do with the rest of my life?” or “maybe that career would suit me better”. It’s perfectly okay if you choose to change careers, you are preparing yourself for a career you hope to have until you retire – you need to make sure it is what you want to do. I’m still pursuing the degree I came to college for, but I changed my decision twice before deciding I was on the correct career path when I started.
College is stressful, life is stressful, being an adult is the most stressful thing in the world. It becomes less stressful when you learn to accept the fact that everyone is facing their own problems. Some may be struggling to make ends meet but are on the Deans List, while others might be working a great job but are struggling to figure out what they want to do with their life. Being in college and becoming an adult sounded like a blast as a kid, but now all I want to do is crawl into bed, take a nap, and hide from my responsibilities. Regardless of the struggle, I’m learning to relax and take each day one at a time – life will work itself out.