The quintessential #adulting experience is, for me, that feeling when you realize that you are indeed a real live adult who is in charge of your own social life. Of course, there are many other important adulting experiences, from agonizing over how expensive necessities such as food and a place to live are to calling your parents because you can’t figure out how the washing machine works. But this one is the most important to me.
It’s something I’ve reflected on throughout this past year or so as I’ve grown and changed and made new friends. I am in charge of deciding how and where and with whom I spend my free time now, not my parents. That’s not to say that my parents restricted who I was friends with before, but there were always practical considerations to be made – for example, my parents always wanted to know where I was going and for how long I would need the car.
And now that I don’t live at home, that’s just… not a thing anymore. It’s weird not asking if I can have a friend over or spend the entire day at someone’s house. It’s like, where did the time go? All this newfound independence must come from somewhere – i.e., my age. I’ll be twenty this September, and it’s kind of freaking me out because A) I have been faking my way through adulthood because I have no idea what to do and B) I can’t believe that many years went by so quickly. I’m an actual adult – and have been for some time now, which also makes me feel weird – and have begun to settle into, well, adult life.
When we were little our parents would set up playdates for us. What we did on those playdates changed over time – we stopped playing and started going to the movies and going out to eat and hanging out at someone’s house for no particular reason other than that we hadn’t seen them in a while and missed them. Just as the nature of what we did with our friends changed along the way, so too did our parents’ involvement: We became more and more independent.
And now here I am in college, still slightly bewildered by the concept of being a (mostly) independent adult has begun to transition into the occasionally bland, occasionally fun life of a twentysomething. I expect it won’t be too different when I’m thirty or forty or fifty.
Sometimes I ask myself things such as: Will I still feel this weird about setting up my own social activities when I’m thirty? Will I still feel this bewildered at fifty? Is this even a feeling other people can relate to, or did most people experience the independence I have now when they were in high school? Were my parents just overprotective? Would I have had these experiences in high school if I’d lived in town and therefore been within walking distance of tons of friends and fun things to do? Have I been spending too much money on food and books lately because I go out to eat with friends with friends when they visit and then browse bookshops with them? (The answer is yes.) Do I get this excited about completely bland things because I’m like, “This is it, this is really it, I’m living on my own”?
P.S. I just thought you’d like to know that this post was inspired by thoughts I thought after my friend and I made plans to visit a nearby park – which we visited for the first time last weekend – every few months so we can watch the changing seasons and take his cat for a walk. That is ridiculously specific, I know, and I’m sorry, but… I don’t know. I guess what I’ve been trying to say this entire post is that adulthood still has very much a sense of, “Do you want to come over and play?” only now we do different things and don’t need to double- and triple-check with our parents every time we want to borrow the car.