As soon as I moved out on my own a few months ago, I prepared myself for the onslaught of “grown up” responsibilities – cutting rent and utility checks every month, tightening my budget, paying credit card bills, et cetera. I was prepared for these monetary related responsibilities, but I never expected the opportunities and experiences that would come about that would slap me in the face with adulthood.
A few weeks ago, I had to make a spontaneous trip back home to Sacramento because I was being summoned for jury duty (by the way, I’ve already made the 6 and a half hour trek back and forth by myself plenty of times. Yep, definitely becoming a grown up). I’ve always noticed that this was something that pretty much every adult dreaded, and up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea why. To me, being summoned for jury duty meant playing hooky from work, getting to spend the day downtown, and, most excitingly of all, sit in and observe a trial and being extremely thankful it’s not you who’s on the stand. What I didn’t realize up until it was my turn to be summoned was that being called for jury duty also means losing an entire day of work, sitting in a stuffy room full of people who would rather have been anywhere else but in a courthouse downtown. I found out that the worst part of that scenario is losing an entire day’s pay – because apparently you don’t get reimbursed for your services unless you report for more than one day (and are also a full time worker). Having to pay my own bills now, I understand how crucial on day’s pay is worth, and how important it is to take advantage of the hours that you are given to work. Right now, I am working full time, but I’m still paid hourly. The trip back home lasted almost an entire week, 3 of those days being working days. You can pretty much figure out how much time (and money) was lost there, all because of my civil duties as a full-fledged grown up. I was even called to be on the jury for a case (AND A JUICY ONE, TOO), but had to request to be excused because the trial was supposed to last at least three weeks. That’s a lot of hours of working that I cannot afford to lose. But hey, at least I got to use whatever time I had left to spend time with my friends and my mom.
While I was at home, I wanted to pack as much productivity into those five days as possible. I knew I was due for another eye appointment, and was in dire need of contact lenses. When I told my mom this, she simply responded that I set my own appointment. The little boy that still lives inside me wanted to throw a tantrum and whine, “But you usually do that part!” Up until that point, I was okay with going to doctor’s appointments by myself, as long as someone else – a grown up – set the appointment for me. I had realized that the last time I had to go to the optometrist was when I was nineteen – not quite an adult, but not quite a child anymore. I was in that limbo phase of still needing my parents to do things for me, things like setting doctor’s appointments. Now that I’m twenty-one, I suppose it is high time I start learning how to do things like that for myself.
Right as I settled myself into the idea of having to schedule my own appointments myself, my mom threw another grenade at my life: “Also make sure you know what the insurance covers you for.” Again, this was something that was completely foreign to me, but well aware that it was also something that I needed to figure out eventually. Luckily, while she was rushing to get her things ready for work, my mom was able to squeeze in the gist of what she meant by “insurance” and “coverage” and “copay” and all of the other grown up words that came up in our conversation. I was still unsure about the entire situation, even after calling my optometrist’s office and having my mom repeat herself using words I could understand. So, finding myself in one of the most pivotal moments of my life (not really), I resorted to doing the one thing that causes majority of my anxiety attacks: figuring things out on my own. At the eye doctor’s office, I had the office staff explain and re-explain what my different options were with what coverage I had, as well as having the optometrist himself tell me what my best options were (three or five times). At some point, something must have clicked inside me because I started to notice that the office staff was trying to get more money out of me by using very convincing arguments including something along the lines of “Yes, you would be paying this amount of dollars, but look at all the cool stuff it comes with!” If I were in this situation two years ago, I would have given in and paid the large sum of money for things I didn’t really need, but since I knew I would be paying out of my own pocket, I knew I had to make an executive decision, and not feel guilty about it. I may not have made the “best” use of my parents’ insurance, but the bottom line is that I got what I needed, and didn’t have to pay an unnecessary sum of money.
After all of these experiences, I realized that being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean having money in the bank, and being able to pay your bills. It means being able to make sound decisions, and being able to assess situations in a logical way, thinking of what you need, and not what you want. Since then, I’ve been presented with situations that tested my ability to make responsible decisions, things like calling out my boss on an unprofessional choice that he made, requesting to be excused for jury duty, or pointing out a mistake that my landlord made when charging me for utilities. For so long, I’ve lived inside a box that kept me from being put in uncomfortable situations. I put myself in that box, and because of that, I was miserable without even knowing it. Now I know to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if the situation will be awkward or uncomfortable, as long as it will lead to something good. The truth is that yes, it will be uncomfortable or awkward, but only for a brief amount of time. When you find yourself on the other side, you’ll be happy you put yourself through a slightly uncomfortable situation.
Truthfully, when I moved out a few months ago, I was more scared than anything else. I was worried that I was forcing myself out from under the comfortable roof of my parents too fast and too early. I was worried that in a few months, my bank account would be depleted, and I would be forced to move back in with my dad. But here I am now, four months later, and I’m making it work. I don’t know how, but if I still have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and money in the bank, I must be doing something right. I now realize that in the past, I wasn’t scared of growing up. I was scared of failing at being a grown up, and that I would end up tripping over my own feet and falling flat on my face. While I am still learning, and these things do happen along the way, I’m not so scared anymore – you can’t be scared of something that you’re anticipating. And I think with that mindset, along with the confidence that everything will be okay in the end, I now realize that I am worthy and good enough to be labeled an “adult.”