The Monthly Hollumn


By Holly Parkin

Whenever I peruse the reference section of the bookstore, there is a huge surplus of books in the vein of “(insert activity here) for dummies.” There’s everything from how to knit to how to become a beekeeper, but none of these match the kind of self-help I need. I need a book that will teach me, quite simply, how to “adult.”

This June I turn 18 and I will finally be able to explore a whole new world of experiences – buying lottery tickets, getting a tattoo, voting, and telling people “you can’t tell me what to do” with an actual degree of truthfulness. In these recent months filled with making post-high school plans, I have been faced with the very real idea of actually living on my own for the first time in my life, which includes more mundane tasks – finding and renting a place to live, maintaining a job, and worst of all, paying taxes. I don’t know how to pay taxes. And I am afraid.

This dilemma has become a frequent point of stress for me. In fact, my thought process has begun to take on a daily routine that is instigated by any ordinary household task, such as making toast for breakfast.
Step 1: put the toast in the toaster and consider the fact that when I live on my own I will have to buy my own toaster. Step 2: remember that I will need to buy bread to actually put in the toaster. Step 3: heart rate increases as I realize that in addition to bread, I will also need to buy other food items and find a fridge to store them in. Step 4: become flustered as I remember that I will have to remember to shop for food at least once a week. Step 5: collapse to the floor as I remember that I will also have to remember to pay bills, do laundry, send emails, do taxes, keep things clean, get exercise, etc. Step 6: become an emotionally unresponsive vegetable at the soul-crushing conclusion that all of these things cost money and I will need to find a steady job. The cycle goes on and on depending on when I can pull myself out of the abyss of emotional anguish at the thought of having to actually deal with responsibilities. If you think that this kind of reaction to toast is dramatic enough, just imagine the kinds of breakdowns I have when I remember that one day I will actually have to pay for my own WiFi.

Of course I want to grow up and try new things, but I also like having the privilege of not worrying about the electricity bill or making sure there’s dinner on the table each night. Adulthood brings many joys and freedoms, but at the same time it also turns your life into a series of never-ending potential problems.
So how do we go about this dilemma of not knowing how to adult? Personally, I’m at a loss for solutions. For a while my only consolation was that literally everyone has gone through – or will go through – this transition from childhood to adulthood, and none of us are truly alone. Even those students who frequently rehash how “ready they are to leave” probably have some nagging thoughts at the back of their mind that perhaps they’re not as ready as they think.

When I consulted my friends to see what their personal solutions to this conundrum were, one offered an enlightening point of view: It will be another four or five years before those of us who are planning on going to college will actually have to live completely independently – and college is simply a stepping stone in that direction. While paying the bills is not any source of concern for many college students living on campus, there are other things to be done independently to take care of yourself.

Thanks to college, I can procrastinate on “being an adult” for a little bit longer.

Like a video game, college is the next level that will give me enough experience points to unlock and advance to the final boss level, adulthood. The post-high school period is an integral part of growing as a person, understanding the world, and coming to terms with paying for WiFi.

It’s not a bad thing to be a little anxious about moving on after high school. There are plenty of kids I know who love to boast about their maturity and readiness for the next stage of their life. But to those of you who are like me – excited, but also a little scared – it’s perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel ready to take on adulthood, congratulations and good luck. If you don’t think you are – don’t underestimate yourself. Adulthood is scary, but I’ve realized it’s something that no guidebook or cheat codes can help you with.