Two years ago, I made the transition from being a college student to a full time teacher. As I began my first year of teaching, I began to realize that in the eyes of our society, I was now considered a fully functioning adult. I was only 21 and did not feel ready for the adult world. This is a subject matter that is lacking media attention. We have lots of support for incoming high schoolers and hours of orientation for college freshmen. We have “Kindergarten Round up!” and initiation for new jobs. Career prep classes are generic and only teach you what to wear to an interview and how to make a resume. We need a “Being An Adult” class where the ins and outs of adulthood are discussed and grieved. Now, as a mature, responsible and wise 23 year old with tons of life experience, I can look back and reflect on some of the hardest adjustments from my transition between college and adulthood.
1. Calling Adults by their first name
This was torturous for me. When I realized I was supposed to call my colleagues by their first names, it felt unnatural and inappropriate. All of my life I had been calling adults “Mr.” or “Mrs.” and all of a sudden, I wake up and have the authority to call adults Barb and Carlos? Why was this not okay 2 months ago but now I suddenly am expected to do this? The hardest part of the professional transition of using first names was that this did not carry over to your personal life or to the adults that already existed pre-real world job. Friend’s parents, parent’s friends, church acquaintances, old coaches, all of them still need to be called Mr. or Mrs. because that is how it has always been. My brilliant idea is that we, as a society, create an age where people are expected to transition to first names. It would be simpler this way.
2. Realizing that cleaning up after yourself is a full-time job
Since I was born, I have lived with people. My family from 0-18, a dorm full of roommates as a freshman in college, and after that, we crammed 4 girls into a tiny apartment for the next three years. If the apartment was ever messy, I had a plethora of people to blame. Shoes? There were literally hundreds of them scattered everywhere. The apartment was crammed with so many people and so much stuff, even if it was clean you could not tell. For the first time in all of my life, I am living alone now. The first time I realized that cleaning up after myself was a full time job, I was devastated. All of these years I thought it was other people, but it has been me all along. When I get home from work and the kitchen is a mess, there is literally no one to blame but myself. When piles of laundry sit in my closet, I have no excuse. When there is no more toilet paper, I can only look in the mirror and shake my head. My parents literally must have been working nonstop to keep our counters clean. I disinfect and scrub and wipe and rub until they shine and the first time I pull out bread to make a sandwich, it is as if 5 toddlers came in and ate lunch. I choose to blame my parents for making it look too easy all those years.
3. Checking the mail is not fun anyone
Remember care packages in college? I would check my box with anticipation and see a beautiful pink slip that meant a package awaited me. Usually this was stuffed with gift cards and homemade cookies and sweet notes. My friends and I thinking we were like Sisterhood of the Traveling pants, we were constantly sending each other things because we couldn’t bear the distance. Checking my mail was a delight. Now, don’t get me wrong. My sweet friends and parents do send me the occasional edible arrangement, but I usually need to be on the verge of a mental breakdown for this to happen. 99% of times the mail is stuffed with bills, notices, reminders and other horrifically boring adult things. Something as magical as the US Mail has turned into a monotonous part of my routine that holds no excitement at all.
4. Being alive is expensive
I was going to name this one, “Bills” but that was so boring and obvious and I couldn’t do it. No, but seriously, the first time my dad told me to write out a budget and list out my expenses, I about had a heart attack. I truly could not FATHOM the idea that the majority of the money I was making was literally being handed to someone else. When I got my first job as a teacher, I looked at my yearly salary and exclaimed to my parents, “I am going to be living like a QUEEN! I am so rich!” (Actual statement made by me). My parents chuckled and I rolled my eyes at how little they knew. Then my first month of being an adult happened and I paid rent, student loans, a car payment, car insurance, renter’s insurance, electricity, cell phone, and Wi-Fi. And then I paid for gas, food, oil changes, lots of Starbucks and new clothes and looked at my bank account. I was bewildered.
I would be willing to start a class called “The Truth about Adulthood” and offer my services to graduating college seniors. I would get down to business and prepare them emotionally for what was going to happen to them. Let me know if you would like me to teach a session in your area.
Hang tight for my future posts following getting married and having children. I am terrified to think about what I don’t know yet.