I turned 21 in October of 2018. I kept having dreams about it and being able to order my own alcoholic drinks and purchase from places on my own. That was the most exciting part: feeling completely legal. I'm no heavy drinker and I don't party, so when the day actually came, it felt like just another day. As sad as that sounds, my 21st birthday was nothing too special.
I did get to celebrate it in lots of cool ways like going on vacation for a few days with my parents and boyfriend. That was fun, but once I came back home to the reality of life and all of my responsibilities, I was downed.
There are a lot of things that I've learned in the 21 years that I've been alive, but there are 5 more specific things that really stick out and are the most meaningful and educational.
1. Living on my own isn't as nice as I anticipated.
Moving out can seem like such a fun thing and living independently is a huge added bonus. Not having to have parents tell you about things that need to be done, cleaning up after your family, etc. Once I moved into an apartment and lived there for a few months though, all of that changed.
There are lots of things for me to still learn about life and myself, but being on my own and taking care of everything myself that my parents could have been there to help me out with is the biggest struggle. Having to make all of those phone calls myself, driving to and from both of my jobs, putting in the hours each week to make money to pay for the bills, and so much more.
Being in my own bedroom without my parents living with me seemed so fun, but I now understand how much I still depend on them and how much I miss them and wish that I had made the decision to stay at home with them.
2. Becoming money-independent isn't a walk in the park.
When living on my own, there are bigger things like rent bills, a car payment and a vet fee since I have a cat. Having a cat is my own choice just as well as living without my parents is, but it makes sense since it's much closer to school than me commuting from home would be. I was able to save a lot of money living with them though, so money is much tighter this way and budgeting comes into hand.
3. Responsibilities become heavier.
After turning 18, my parents stopped receiving Social Security in my favor, and I became a form of spending money. Since I was born, my mother has taken care of me and kept me underneath her wing when it comes to food, shelter and clothing. After some time, it was important that I was shown how to take care of myself for when I won't always have my parents and for when I have to start paying back my student loans. If I want reliable transportation, a cell phone, to be protected by health care and automobile insurance, a place to live and food and clothing to have, I needed to be shown how to obtain all of those things myself. I'm still working on taking each and every one of these responsibilities on for myself, but I'm happy to have been explained how important this will become.
4. There is still a lot of growing up to do.
The beginning of adulthood is a time of excitement and stress. Learning what my future will be like and what it will consist of is a lot to take in. Knowing how many burdens will be moved to my shoulders, wanting to eventually settle down and be married, share joint accounts with a SO, etc. It's a lot to understand and a lot to have to learn to earn.
Becoming an independent is the biggest part of adulthood, and as a 21-year-old full-time student and part-time employee, I still have a lot on my spoon to take in and take onto my own life from others, being my parents.
5. Handling stress, panic and anxiety alone is scary.
Being diagnosed with depression and OCD, having to handle a mental breakdown, a panic attack or a very depressive state is also completely dependent on how I manage it alone. For the most part, my panic attacks happen at late hours of the night or wee hours of the early morning when no one else is awake for me to call and talk through it with (there are hotlines and crisis text lines though). Taking my medications is all on me; taking responsibility and showing up for important doctor's appointments is on me; not abusing forms of treatment, overdosing, etc. is all dependent on a patient.
Because I live with other roommates that I'm not entirely close with, I feel like I'm backed into a corner a lot, or am in a state of constant loneliness when I can't see or talk to my mother, boyfriend or best friend. This is an extremely challenging part of my adulthood experience and is one that will continue to develop and turn into something that is much more serious. It's already a serious matter, but soon enough, it will become my responsibility to have insurance to cover expensive therapy and psychiatry appointments and to be able to pay for medication.
In the end, growing up can seem and actually is fun in some aspects. Responsibilities, finances, grades, and well-being are important things to keep in mind when going about one's life and taking advantage of what one has. I personally didn't realize the duties that were put onto me when I moved out right away and abused what I had as far as money and responsibilities go; but since I've been around for 21 years, I feel that I've learned a lot and have a lot more to learn. But I'll get there.