I am a 20 something year old woman, dwelling in an incredibly potent time of transition and building. It’s a time that has been romanticized and advertised to me since I entered high school by teachers and parents alike. Some called it the best time of their life, others emphasized the incredible value of a good education and the incredible opportunity college is to express and build yourself and your future.
But now that I’m here, and this future is a reality for me, I think it’s about time I got real for a second.
My life kind of sucks right now.
Let’s just explore the life of a student, specifically as it pertains to me.
I have had the misfortune of being born in the lower half of the financial bracket, therefore, sociologically speaking I have a heck of a job ahead of me, attempting to crawl my way out of that bracket, particularly with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt looming over my poor, broke, college head.
I am in the midst of a (actually really great) long distance relationship, watching hundreds of my peers move forward with their relationships, both romantic and otherwise. Some are getting married, others simply taunt me with their hand holding and coffee-date-going. Regardless, I am a woman stuck in an in-between, struggling to understand what it means to be an adult for myself, and not compare myself to countless women (younger than me, I might add) who are, perhaps, married and popping out beautiful little lives already, or simply just independently working and living on their own, outside of the education system. (No crippling debt and nowhere to move but forward? Sounds nice.)
I am poor poor poor.
My net worth? Negative thousands. Negative LOTS of thousands, yet here I am enjoying a latte because I worked a summer (and am now working still) to have enough money to pretend everything is normal by ingesting food every once in awhile. However, the truth of the matter is (and something many college age individuals tend to avoid talking about due to pride and a need to be perceived as independent) I cannot afford a latte. I cannot afford lunch. And I definitely cannot afford the nice wallet I just bought. (ironic, huh?) And, to be honest, there is a constant ache in all of our chests from the dwindling digits in our debit (savings? what is savings??) account.
All of this, speaking plainly, sucks major butt.
And don’t even get me started on how colossally broken the american education system is.
Now, why am I writing about this? I’m writing about this because I need to be able to open up about the reality of my life. I also need to be able to write about how much better it’s going to get. I have to process through the fact that this was the best choice I could have made, at this point in my life, personally, despite all of the horrible digits involved. For this half a decade that I am going to be in school, I get to discover who I am for myself, which is awesome. However that’s not what I’m writing about, I am writing about the light at the end of the tunnel, and about coping with how much my life, at least logistically speaking, really kind of sucks.
Coping mechanism #1: Honesty.
Lets get real. Let’s be open and honest about what sucks. Just because subjects like crippling debt, ashen faced ATM visits and teetering relationships are taboo, does not mean they’re not real.(AKA, anyone more financially able, please send care packages. We need them. Good items include: Stress-reducing candles, re-assuring notes, chocolate, coffee, gift cards to clothing places that sell warm, winter stuff, and plain old dollar bills.)
Coping mechanism #2: Constant thinking and writing about the light at the end of the tunnel.
At the end of it all, it’s going to get better. All you have to do now is hysterically laugh at the sheer craziness of your life, financially or otherwise, and stay afloat. Pay no mind to the fact that your boat has 500 million miles on it and was bought on craigslist for twenty dollars. Just stay afloat, patch the holes, drink another cup of coffee (and two cups of water) and do not allow yourself to fall into the “It feels so endless and impossible” depression.
Coping mechanism #3: Buy the book called “Adulting” by Kelly Williams Brown.
There are some seriously helpful things in there, and she’s one witty lady. It helped me to realize that I wasn’t the only one sucking at this adult thing. As a matter of fact, I would say Coping Mechanism #3.5 would be: Realize you are not not NOT alone. That’s another thing I’m hoping this blog entry communicates without a doubt.
Truthfully, this all came to me as I was walking out of the fine arts building today. Suddenly and without warning (admittedly I was a little emotional from the world war II documentary we were watching in class) I just burst out laughing. Yes, hysterically. LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT IS MY LIFE. It sucks so. Much. And it feels like nobody gets it, and nobody ever will… yet in a moment of clarity I realized that it was all temporary, and terrible, and hilarious, and TEMPORARY.
Some day I am going to have the life that I want, someday (assuming all goes at least moderately according to plan) I will have a house and a dog and a life and maybe even a big strong man to love me, and on that day I will have won. AND IT’S NOT THAT FAR AWAY.
This time isn’t hopeless, it isn’t permanent, and while feelings of depression and anxiety during this time are MORE than legitimate, it does not possess enough seriousness to forget to laugh about it too. I will add, though, that if one more adult tells me a story about how they “paid for their college with their summer savings and what the heck is wrong with students of today.” I will lose it will all the hysteria of a sinking craigslist TITANIC.
Please, 20-somethings, regardless of what you’re choosing to do in this phase of life, don’t feel alone. And don’t, please don’t succumb to the feeling that you’re falling behind.
(If you won’t, I won’t.)
The truth is, no matter how it seems, everyone in their twenties who appears to have it all together is just pretending. You, and only you know what pace and in what way to live your life. And please, adult-ier adults, send care packages. Lots of care packages. And try to understand the amount of emotional turmoil your friend/child is hiding with all the pride and care in the world, inside their holy (hole-ey?) boat.
How’s that for a “thought of the day.”
Yours, and still laughing,
PS: Also, don’t give up on now being the best time of your life. Whatever you’re doing.