Upon completing my first year of college and successfully surviving my first year of living away from home, I have grown to understand what it means to become an adult. Although I have days where I consider myself the opposite, I have realized how different life is when you are living independently. Simple things I have depended on my parents for have now become my own responsibilities.
As the adult life is hard to adjust to, here are some things that I've come face to face with throughout the year; things that I had never really had to do on my own before:
1. Budgeting is essential.
For some reason I thought that the babysitting money I've saved over the years would carry me through my first year of college, giving me the freedom to go out and do fun activities with friends and buy overpriced lattes from trendy cafes downtown.
However, I learned very fast that the money in my bank account was precious, and I needed to only spend it when necessary. Little expenses like toiletries, snacks, school supplies, and textbooks each quarter really started to add up. I've had to come to the reality of budgeting each month and making sure that I don't overspend. I guess I never realized that my money would eventually run out… and I surely took advantage of my freedom when it came to making purchases.
2. Food is expensive and grocery shopping is stressful.
The first time I entered the local Fred Myers, I was very overwhelmed by the number of people, children, and carts moseying around the store. Grocery shopping, I discovered, was not as peaceful as I had always thought It'd be. Navigating an unfamiliar store is enough stress on its own, while also navigating other humans. Food also gets pricey and was never an expense I put much thought into. It all adds up and I learned that I needed to put deeper consideration into what I actually needed.
3. Time management is necessary to stay on top of responsibilities.
Not only relating to school work but also relating to life in general, organizing my time and planning out my weeks became so important for reminding me of deadlines and other dates. I always thought I was really good at managing my time, but that changed when I moved away from home. With the amount of freedom that I have, I also need to make sure I am staying on top of my responsibilities. Using a planner has really helped me with that, and I have even started to actually enjoy organizing.
4. Managing important stuff is difficult at first.
Tasks like calling the bank, making doctor appointments, and paying bills never occurred to me until I left home. I remember constantly calling my mom before appointments or other important phone calls, asking her to write a literal script for me to say or to help me deal with insurance stuff. Basically, every life skill we should have learned in high school has been hard to figure out. It has taken me a while to find my professional voice, but I've learned that appointments and other adult responsibilities just get easier with time and experience.
5. Decision making can be tough.
Making big adult decisions that actually impact my future are some of the hardest ones to make. I am still so used to consulting with my parents, and I think I always will. Even as an adult I still believe it is important to have other's input on big life decisions. I never realized before entering college how many simple decisions I would have to make and also how many bigger ones would come my way. Life is full of decision making, and it is something we all just need to get used to.
Even though I am on my own with most things, it is always good to remember that my parents are just phone calls away. Living away from home has given me so many awesome opportunities to practice independence and navigate the adult world, and as I continue to grow and adjust to my new freedoms, it will hopefully get easier.