It was one of those lovely June days that become forever etched into your memory. Warm and breezy, overalls and french braids.Yellow buses and styrofoam lunch trays were the last thing on our minds. My sister and I were happily dragging one of those giant, red wagons behind us while we scavenged decor for our “clubhouse” we had claimed in the woods with the neighborhood kids. We found some bits of carpet, long curtains, a microwave (Duh. I don’t know what kind of childhood YOU had if your clubhouse didn’t have a microwave.) and the pièce de resistance – a large wooden desk, in pristine condition. We hauled these items back into the small patch of woods and carefully transformed the dirt floor into carpet and the curtains into a grand entrance. We were especially proud of our main attraction – the desk.
We were living large.
That summer we crowned Speedy, the box turtle who stumbled upon our little fortress, the king. Our mom packed us brown paperbags, only for us to walk them ten feet out the door and eat our lunches under the hot sun, with our pet turtle and the make-shift tables. We spent every single day in our humble abode until September rolled around.
All of a sudden – I’m 21.
Between transcripts, underpaid jobs, and the anxiety that comes with checking the balance of your bank account…it’s OK to have a mental breakdown every once in a while. You aren’t the only one. And I know I can’t be.
You’re not 38 and living in your parents basement, you’re twenty-something and living out the years they say are the best. You’re not supposed to have it all together.
And here’s why:
1. Your paycheck says it all.
Unless you were born into royalty, or recently bought a winning lottery ticket, you’re probably not living a very luxurious life. Even as a college grad you have to have the chance to really establish yourself before you can rake in the dough. Living paycheck to paycheck should not be classified as a problem at this point in your life. Of course it’s nice to have some extra cash, but it’s so much nicer to have a shot at a job you love doing! And for those who haven’t even graduated yet – a lot of people don’t even get the chance to go to college, so be thankful and live it up while you still can!
2. You’re still figuring out this whole “career” thing.
It’s an emotional ride. At seventeen you are expected to choose a field that will dictate your life, go study that one thing for four years and then live happily ever after. This is so misunderstood. When I was seventeen … I was kind of a different person, I think we all were. How do they expect kids to make such a life-determining decision when they don’t even trust them with a beer in their hand?
You chose a major, but you’ve probably changed your mind at least once somewhere along the way. And it will probably happen at the beginning of your career too. It’s okay. If you muttered the word “internship” to me three years ago I would have asked you to repeat yourself. But you learn what things are, and you get more and more courage to ask the right questions because as you grow you realize everyone else is just as confused as you are. And please remember: It’s okay to change your mind. Your work should be your passion. And it’s okay if that evolves.
3. People stop telling you what to do.
Speaking of choosing a major – after that first year of college you’re pretty much on your own in the realm of direction. You start to develop responsibility (or at least try to) and begin to take charge (or not, which is cool too). Having a good, caring advisor is like hitting the jackpot. I, however, have not had the greatest luck. They tell me I’m good to schedule classes and leave it at that. I even ask my questions, and yet somehow I still leave their office feeling more confused than when I walked in.
BUT: I figured it out. Dissecting your specific degree requirements might as well be enough for you to earn the degree in itself, but by the fourth year I’ve finally got it down. (Don’t even get me started on FAFSA.)
When people stop telling you how to live your life you become more open to the opportunities that arise and it’s such a wonderful thing. So – buy that plane ticket or take that job. Your plan isn’t set in stone, and if you act like it is you may miss out on some amazing life-changing experiences!
So charge forward into the ever-changing winds of life and build your own little fortress!