Four years ago, my best friend and I presented our internship recaps to a group filled with friends, family, classmates and professors. It was your responsibility to find an internship in your field, get it approved and then log everything to turn into a 10-minute PowerPoint that determined if you graduated.
Looking back, I’m embarrassed that it stressed me out. It was 10 minutes where I just had to say what I did all summer and what I learned. Sure, there was a lot riding on my successful delivery, but it was just a summary.
At the time you could’ve told me it wasn’t a big deal, but I probably would’ve said you’re wrong. You couldn’t understand. This was important!
Ah, the folly of youth.
I don’t claim to be a beacon of smart and wise choices. I am often impulsive and spontaneous in pretty immature ways. I like to stay up late for adventures and I really think life is too short to ever do something because you should. But I am an adult.
Adulthood isn’t reached when you turn 18. Legally, perhaps, but not emotionally. It takes experiencing adult life to get it. Here is my first bit of advice: avoid it as long as you can. Seriously, it’s the worst.
At 21, I got my first apartment with my friend in Pittsburgh as I prepared to intern downtown. I had steady enough income and could, on paper, afford to live. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the thousand other expenses associated with living on your own.
Thank God for credit cards, amiright?
Even after living on my own for four years, I still forget to buy toilet paper. Sometimes I can’t afford groceries and somehow survive on the bottom of the drawer items I find in my kitchen.
I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. Some people escape their early 20s relatively debt free and find decent paying jobs and live a simple life where money might not be in over abundance, but it’s there.
I envy those people because I know 100 percent I have money problems because I am an idiot. I like having things and I like staying current. I don’t like denying myself what I want in any area of my life. I can’t see what I want most because I’m blinded by what I want now.
Whenever I find myself around you get people, I want to forcibly shake them in an effort to make them listen. I know that living on your own seems cool (there are perks) but sometimes it isn’t worth it. Just because you think you need that tattoo now doesn’t mean you always will. You don’t need the entire catalog from ikea to have a nice apartment (your credit cards will thank me). I’m sorry you’re single but live your life now full of joy for the opportunity to find who you are and be that person.
I say this knowing adults spoke such wisdom to me years ago and like the prideful fool I am I ignored them
Again I say the folly of youth.
Moral of this is you do have a grace period. We’re expected to figure out who we want to be and pursue that version of ourselves and sometimes it means making really stupid choices. You can’t really know yourself unless you’ve gone through some rough times in your early 20s.
If I had listened and made better choices, who knows where I would be. I trust God would take care of me, but I bet my life might look different than it does now, for better or worse.
Young people, since you won’t listen to reason, ask yourselves a few questions. Why am I doing this? Do I want to fit in or people to think I’m cool? Am I trying to prove something? Can I actually afford to do this? Do I want to be in credit card debt for the rest of my life?
I can’t save you, but I can hope you learn from me.