As far back as I can remember, the idea of growing up has been scary to me. Growing up meant more responsibilities, more worries, more stress. It meant that more people would expect more out of me and that I would have less freedom to do what I wanted to do. As I got into junior and senior year of high school, I was still very afraid of the idea of leaving home and becoming an adult, but I was also incredibly excited. The idea of having independence was thrilling, yet I knew that it came with great responsibility. I was ready to take on college, fully aware that my life was going to change.
And it did. And freshman year treated me really well. I learned a lot by tiptoeing into the adult world. It started with the little things—making my own schedule, managing my time wisely, doing my laundry. It moved into things I didn’t even think about before—getting groceries for myself, making appointments when I was sick, picking up my own medicine. Then it was slightly bigger things—managing my budget, contacting offices and professors to find job and research opportunities, searching for and setting up a place to live over the summer. I made some mistakes, but that was the beauty of it. Even though I was being forced to be independent, I still had the support of my friends and family, I wasn’t doing it alone. It was a gentle push telling me that I would have to get used to the real world, but also comforting in that I wasn’t completely on my own yet.
This summer I chose to stay in Baltimore, and am really excited about my decision. I’m staying in an apartment (with my friend Amanda!) on campus, and it’s been really fun. Campus feels very different—not just because it’s not as crowded, but because somehow, it feels more like that real world that everyone talks about. I’ve had to find a routine to make sure my schedule works. I have to go grocery shopping, but this time I need to get food to cook and remember to get enough fruits and veggies to stay healthy. I have to remember to do my dishes and clean the kitchen when I’m done. I have to create a work schedule and make sure I get my homework done. And all of my friends who stayed in town feel the same way. We’re moving closer and closer towards more responsibilities and it’s still scary, but it’s getting more exciting. Now, not only is getting my work done an accomplishment, so is getting something new to try at the Farmer’s Market and successfully cooking it. It’s knowing that there’s something more than school, and being able to work it into daily life.
So maybe now instead of tiptoeing into the adult world, I’ve begun to take one full step. And I’m nowhere close to growing up, but I’m thinking now that it might not be too bad.