When I started college, I thought I knew what it would be like. I thought I had at least a general idea of how life would go down. My senior year essentially revolved around college prep: it started with applications and acceptances, then “the big decision” and loads of paperwork, and then the buying of things, the packing, the goodbyes. And through all of this, I spent the whole year trying to get a complete picture of what college would be like. You go in with some preconceived notions that you’ve picked up from movies, books, articles, and family or older friends. I tried to get a complete picture of what to expect because I knew that it’d be a big change.
But college is a completely foreign experience to a newly-18 adult who’s standing at the end of high school, watching the end of August hurtle towards them. There was no way I could have seen this coming. It’s amazing, for sure. But it’s also very unexpected and certainly something I’m not used to (or at least something I wasn’t used to back in August and September).
This situation gives me the feeling that I’m just kind of playing adult. I’d guess that a lot of college freshmen feel that way. Grown-ups (the real ones) ask me what I’ll be doing with my degree and I can only think, “How am I supposed to know? I’m only 18. I’m still so far from graduating.” I’ll hop on the bus to Wegmans to pick up fruit or medicine or snacks and it feels weird to know in the back of my head that if I don’t buy the things I need for myself, nobody else will do it for me. When I do laundry or tidy up the room or wash my very small number of dishes, it feels like playing house. And don’t even talk to me about paying bills or dealing with credit cards; addressing anything money-related essentially means an instant phone call to mom or dad. Going to an interview or having a discussion with one of those “real adults” who has a job and house and everything (like the teacher I work with at South Park High School, who treats Meg and I as much older than I feel), I just put on a confident face and hope they don’t realize that I’m completely new at what I’m doing.
Being self-reliant is a feeling that I’ve experienced before, but never to this extent, and the new levels of independence can make me feel unqualified at dealing with “grown-up” life. It feels like I’m playing adult when I’m put in a role where I need to take authority or handle issues on my own. I’m only 18. I’m not a real adult and I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to feel comfortable seeing myself as one. I still call mommy and daddy when I’m confused or sad (or dealing with money). I still sleep with my stuffed rabbit, Eddy. I still eat waffles with my fingers and hate brushing my hair and doodle flowers in my notes and have no real concept of what I want to be when I grow up.
I mean, I guess you only go through life once so there’s no way that you can get used to feeling a certain age (or feeling what you think a certain age should feel like) before you turn a different age and you’re in a new situation again. I guess I should just feel how I feel. But how am I supposed to know? I’m new at this.
I’m glad that college kids includes the term “kids,” because that makes it okay that I still feel like one.
Lots of love, chilluns