If I could sum going from a college student to a graduated young-twenty-something up visually, it would be a chicken running around with its head cut off.
There is a big distinction between being a twenty-something in college and a twenty-something out on your own and it has nothing to do with the number and all to do with the lifestyle. The last few years, I’ve worked hard to get through college, take care of myself, and build my resume. Don’t by any means take this as me saying college is a breeze. It’s a learning experience and there is pain, growth, uncertainty, and incredible financial stress.
But there are also inexplicable amounts of alcohol, 7 excuses a week to get drunk named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I could almost always arrange my class schedule so I could sleep in after late night homework sessions. And if all fell apart, I still had the luxury of going home to a safe place that didn’t count on me for rent. That wasn’t expected of me yet. If you don’t have that, you go Glen Coco, good for you for taking care of yourself at such a young age. You’re a star. But it’s ok for you to have supportive parents, too. Don’t feel left out, you’re a star as well. That’s a blessing, don’t discredit it.
I embodied the stressful college lifestyle. But I was experiencing a really cool time of my life where I was preparing for my future. It’s like swimming laps in your community pool. There are coaches who are guiding you and your parents are on the lounge chairs a few feet away. The young-twenty-something lifestyle brings a new kind of stress. Only to be described as:
Being dropped in open water with a life jacket and a horrible fear of sharks.
Within weeks after my college graduation, I prepared to move to Baltimore in an apartment with two close friends, start a full-time job and a commute that I wasn’t yet aware of. So I was prepping my boat, life jacket, and survival gear for that big drop into the ocean. I skipped the moving-home-after-college bit because I knew the best thing for me was to start off on my own. But moving home brings its own set of stresses. Like feeling 15 again because your parents are still trying to apply some sort of curfew and you can’t let dishes build up for a few days without getting in trouble. If you’re there, don’t worry. We all figure this out in our own time. No judgement as long as you’re moving forward despite how scary it can be.
Before I knew it, life on my own was starting.
I’ll paint you a picture of what that has looked like:
- Move into new apartment.
- Set up apartment.
- Spend too much money on food and stuff to setup new apartment.
- Start new job.
- Discover what a traffic-filled commute looks like–over an hour to and over an hour from.
- Work for three days.
- Freak out that I hate this job.
- Work for three more days.
- Freak out some more.
- Clean out office incase I decide I can’t go back Monday morning and then I don’t have to come back for my things.
- Go back Monday anyway like nothing happened.
- Freak out that I’ll never get my dream job.
- Freak out that I don’t even totally know what my dream job is anymore.
- Freak out that I’m freaking out.
- Apply to new jobs.
- Calculate how long I can survive off my current funds.
- Contemplate moving home.
- Force myself to do yoga.
- Bought an audio book in an attempt to make my commute more enjoyable.
- Learn what it means to come home from work and have to immediately start preparing to do the same thing again the next day.
- Realize this is what it means to be an adult in the first world.
It’s a little bit of an emotional crisis. An emotional shipwreck, if you will. When all is said and done, these aren’t bad problems to have. I don’t feel like I can complain too much about having shelter and a job where I can support myself. But I will not discredit the feeling of instability of going from a fun college-student to the working world and away from everything I knew.
Change is disorienting. It’s stressful. It’s a rollercoaster. But at the end of the day change is life. You can’t avoid it no matter how hard you try. So you can either toughen up and create an awesome but scary rollercoaster or cling to the old kiddie coasters for dear life and probably fall off.
This chicken is putting her head back on, as soon as I can find it.