Alec Mair ’17, Freelancer
If you are currently a senior, you are most likely excited about graduating high school. You probably feel like you are ready to tackle independent living, whether that be in your own apartment, in a dorm, or whatever other sort of arrangement you have planned for when you leave home, if you decide to do so. You may think you know all there is to know, but do not load up the U-Haul just yet; there are some things you need to keep in mind before you are truly prepared to be a self-sustaining adult. Here are five lessons, cultivated from my own experiences (and failures) that are crucial to surviving independence.
1: Allow yourself to adjust
Moving into a new place is always difficult, emotionally as well as physically and financially. You will probably leave home only just before your first year of college begins, or right as you start to take more hours at work. These are incredibly stressful events for a person, whether you know it or not, and having them all at once is going to force you to change your lifestyle drastically and, if not faced with moderation and balance, disastrously. Do not stress yourself out over it, and don’t feel like you have to figure everything out immediately. When I first moved into my current apartment, I did not finish unpacking for a month. It may sound sad, but I did not fully realize that I was living where I was until I had already been there for several weeks. That is just what happens after you have lived one way for so long. Give yourself a break, and take the process one step at a time.
2: Have a social life
After high school, a lot of graduates tend to fall off the face of the Earth, metaphorically speaking. They get out of contact with their friends, get lost in their jobs, and begin to suffer from loneliness and stress. I am sure you all are very socially active beings, but it is easy to let that slip as the time sink of studying for college or working more hours manifests itself. Do not be a hermit. Your responsibilities are important, but making sure you do not go stir-crazy is equally as vital to success.
3: Get interested in your job
One of the most difficult parts of living away from home is learning how to keep a job–something that is not exactly taught in school, and therefore most likely an issue many of you face. You may hate the jobs you already have, and you probably do not see them as careers or opportunities. That is completely fine, but you cannot treat them lightly. Sure, you can be the employee that only does the bare minimum, and I cannot fault you for that, but you can forget about a chance at getting a raise or any sort of promotions if you choose to act that way. It is in your best interest to go above and beyond; keeping your bosses happy and exceeding their expectations makes them more likely to return the favor, and they tend to do that in your paycheck.
4: Be illogical
You want that Overwatch hoodie, but it is sixty dollars. You cannot picture yourself without it, it is just too cool, but it is so expensive. What do you do? Do you tell yourself ‘no’, and pretend you don’t want it, until your brain rots in frustration? Or do you buy it immediately, and torture your bank account? It does not have to be like this. Make a “fun budget” for yourself, so you can splurge on something stupid every once in awhile. Your parents are probably going to tell you that a hoodie with a logo on it is less important than saving for college, but you are going to go insane if you try to be financially logical 24/7. You are not a robot. You are a human being, and human beings need to enjoy themselves.
5: Ask for help
I want all of you reading this to know that you have a fantastic amount of resources available to you that can aid you in the transition from school to adulthood. You are surrounded by people who know what it is like to have to start from the bottom, like your parents, your teachers, your older siblings, your coworkers and bosses. Do not be afraid to reach out. The problems you face will not be solved if you do not know how to solve them, and while it may feel embarrassing to have to ask another person to assist you, it cannot possibly be worse than missing rent, getting fired, or failing a class. Communicate with those around you while you have the time.
I hope these tips will help you prepare as you creep closer and closer to graduation. These are things I wish I had someone tell me before I left home, and I hope your anxieties are at least a tiny bit alleviated after reading this.