Just 3 short months ago, I was surrounded by crowds of fun-loving, spontaneous people. Each day, I felt more and more in tune with the fun-loving girl I've always been. Cabo Spring Break was the pinnacle of my college career—socially that is. While this week paved the way for a brand new, incredible life path, I cannot say all spring breaks have followed suit. Back when my spring recesses was referred to as "Easter Vacations", my high school off days were often filled with sleepovers and gym trips each morning with my best friend. During my senior year however, my spring break took an unexpected turn.
Freshly 18, I starred at my water glass in utter shock. "Stefania is going to be fine, Diana. She's 18 now" stated my aunt to my worried mother. After recognizing the state my grandmother's health was in, followed by my subpar financial aid packages for college, my family and I received a rude awakening—only I was able to pay for my college education. My legal adulthood set my mother free of the earth-shattering bounds of financial responsibility she solely took on my entire life. It terrified me, but finally I was able to set her free. From there, the layers of my premature adulthood reality unraveled, and I realized I would be in charge of all of my finances in a matter of weeks. With only a learners permit, financial aid packages stuffed with loans, and the pressure of unexpected circumstances, my entire world stood still. I had never experienced panic quite like this.
Today, my car is chugging along just as well as the day I bought it after my high school graduation, my post-grad employer is happily promoting me to bartending, and USC is more than willing to assist me financially for my impeccable education. I have my demons and my stress behind the scenes, so this is in no way a boast, this is a promise. To my fellow Millennial/Gen. Z friends who feel their world tumbling down every week, you will be okay. 18 year old Stefania had no idea how she would pass her drivers test, find a car she could afford, get a job, succeed, and pay for college. I have sobbed over finances for weeks on end, I've wondered where I'll be next year after graduation FAR too many times, I've felt it all. I'm a first generation college student with a service industry job and an uncomfortable amount of debts to pay. But I'm here, I'm progressing, and I have survived. I'm grateful that I can look back and wish that I had the same problems I had when I was 18, because those are nothing to 21 year old me.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that in the face of pressure, we thrive. And in this economy, pressure surrounds us. I don't have the answers for you, I cannot promise tomorrow, and not everything is going to glide into that safety net of "ok". But when the world is crashing down, and nothing around you feels it's going positively, remember that there is always the promise of life after our lows. Opportunity is what has saved me in this life. After losing my father, I did not think I could live to see ok ever again. As the days inevitably went out, I realized the thought of a chance at a smile, laugh, or distraction each day is what allowed me to look forward. Time is often our enemy, pushing us to check boxes off our lists and satisfy deadlines. But time also gives us the chance to find closure and move with the setting sun. Just as the sun closes on a day, we too glide into the darkness to mask the evils that sat beneath the sun. Tomorrow is coming, and at the very least, it cannot be yesterday.