Thrown into Adulthood
My strategic process in beginning adulthood from the roots up
It's the absolute strangest thing when you wake up every morning and you grab your coffee and you get ready for work everyday because you have bills to pay, you have a career in mind, and you desperately need insurance to see a doctor for that weird rash you got the other day. It's a strange time for those of us who just graduated high school because we spent the last 12 or so years in the comfort of our parents' homes and sitting behind a desk at school. Some of us are more prepared than others for these stressful years ahead, but some of us weren't as prepared as we thought we were.
If you start to think about it... We just went from having to ask permission to go to the bathroom to having to have enough of ourselves together to not end up tripping over our own adolescent mindsets.
I will be 19 years old a week from today. I graduated from high school in Las Vegas in May of 2019 and here I am in October and I've already moved to San Diego by myself, gotten a new job, buying my own groceries, helping with rent, figuring out my credit, getting licensed to drive (cause that never ended up following through before), etc. in such a short amount of time. I know virtually nothing and at the same time, I've figured out the perks of not really understanding how anything works. That being said, if you're really going through it right now and you don't know a thing about what you're doing, then honey, welcome to the crew.
You're probably reading this right now looking for the answers to it all, but believe me, if I had myself figured out right now, I'd be a God amongst youth. Just know that it is completely necessary to feel like you're just barely scraping the bottom and that you don't know where to even begin or (for some of us) where we are heading. For a while, you're going to wonder to yourself, "Well what do I do now? I don't even know the first step to becoming stable enough to function." At this moment, I am now going to tell you something you already know. You're going to have to go through it to learn what works best in your favor, and if I'm being honest, it's probably going to reek for a bit and there are multiple factors that invest in that discomfort. I'm still in this phase of hitting rock bottom, but eventually you get tired of feeling helpless and you get up and you do something to change that and "take the reins" if you will. There are a few small things here and there that I've begun doing, which has made my very existence in adulthood so much easier for me.
Money. When Beyonce asks, "Who runs the world, girls," I cannot RELATE. Money runs everything we do. Money can make your life, or money can break your life. Money will make you cry like a six year old in the shower and it will also help you sleep at night... under a roof... and hopefully in a bed.
Like I've said before, nobody really expects you to know what you're doing right now, but it is always a smart idea to prepare yourself financially as early as you can.
Just as nobody expects you to have your life set yet, nobody expects you to have a really professional job right now. At this point, you're probably in school and working or primarily working. As long as you have a steady enough source of income to pay your bills and buy groceries, you're doing just fine!
Now, I am still learning what the best format of paying bills is, but I've found that as I receive my payments biweekly, I set aside all of the money I need to cover all of my bills put together and then proceed to look at what is left after that is done. Once I have set that money aside, I instantly know that I'm safe for the next month, but now I have to set aside the money I need to pay for the groceries and medications I need. For a lot of you, you will only have to look at how much you need for food and try your best not to eat out as much. Eat out maybe once every other week, but if you can (and I know you can), I'd suggest that you try maybe once a month. It is much cheaper to eat at home than it is to go out. THAT is why your mom says, "We have food at the house."
All of that may prove as frustrating to a teenager getting into adulthood because you are extremely limited on how much money you can spend on fun or for things you want. As mentioned earlier, you'll just have to get to the point where you're stressing so hard that saving all, and any, money you have is just part of your routine. If you always live like a broke college kid you'll eventually just see that money you save overtime just stack up.
An important thing to keep in mind when you are out shopping for groceries is to avoid impulse buying. Impulse buying is practically self explanatory and it is basically when you buy things you don't actually need because you wanted it. Make a grocery list when you go out so you have an organized idea of what you need to buy so that when you're looking at that orange juice but it isn't what you need or on your list, you have to have the self control not to buy it.
Something my mother taught me that has served me justice when I'm grocery shopping is to plan out the meals you want to make throughout the week that you are shopping for. So a week prior, list seven meals you want to make and the ingredients you need to make them. Keep in mind that you are still on a budget, so try your best not to pick meals that involve expensive produce like steak. Following this process, go into your kitchen and mark off the things you already own so you don't end up buying more than you need. Next, make that list and use that when you go shopping. You don't have to do things this way, it is just what I've found to work best for me personally.
These are just a few things for you to consider while you are saving your money. Just because you have money to pay for something doesn't mean that you can afford it.
When we were in school we had a set schedule made by our academic programs and our parents, and that was what we followed for however long. We have a time to wake up and go to sleep on the week days and weekends for some of us. We had curfews and so many boundaries, and now you're given the sweet taste of freedom and you're living it up for a few months until you realize that you are feeling a little unorganized. Everything starts becoming hectic because you're falling asleep at noon and staying up until four in the morning when you have work at seven. Your hygiene is slacking and your brain is fuzzy, what are you doing wrong?
It would seem as though all of that freedom you have now got to your head and what you lack is a routine. My routine will be different from yours as yours would be different for someone else. Think about the things you would do back in the day. Your activities have changed, but does that routine in between have to? Believe it or not, but waking up early and going to bed not too late is a start whether you have to be someplace early the next day or not. The more time you have during the day to do all the things you need or want to do will make you more successful in the long run because you've given yourself a head start to plot it out.
For an example, my morning routine goes as such: Wake up at 7 AM, give myself some quiet time and have some tea or water (ease into consciousness), exercise (10-30 minutes is fine to just start your brain up), feed myself something, read a book, and sometimes I'll start to write down everything I want to succeed in doing for the day. I like to set daily goals because I have a hard time envisioning my day mentally, so I personally like having it visually right in front of me. On the days I know are toughest on me, I have affirmations, which are just a list of things I say to myself to boost my confidence and feel better.
Make sure that you organize when and how often you want to shower. Brush your teeth, man! You run your life now, it isn't anybody's job to remind you of the importance of taking care of your personal hygiene. I feel like I sound like a mother already, do excuse me.
Sit and think about what your days are like and build a routine that works around it. It is so important to take care of yourself. Getting help at this time is so complicated if you have to do it alone. Doctors visits, medication, getting mental assistance is so much money that you most likely don't have right now, so please for your own sake learn how to take care of yourself. Know that you deserve that.
HAVE A LITTLE FUN
I know I've been kind of a stick in the mud for the last few sections, but I only speak the truth to best benefit you. Although adulthood is not easy, that doesn't mean you shouldn't save as much room as you can to have a little fun.
You now have the freedom to live life your way. You aren't your parents or the people who surround you. You are you, so live your life the way you want it. There is the platform of duty and then there are the colors we add to it. Adulthood is the rest of our lives. Don't allow your life to be mechanical, allow your life to be fruitful and fun as well. It doesn't have to be all business all the time. All adults are just grown children after all.
After graduation, a lot of young adults fall into a depression or lose interest in the things that they enjoyed before. If you find that you're too mature for certain things as you were before, then that is just part of growing up; but if you still enjoy playing soccer or painting or playing video games, don't believe that you have to put that on hold for the requirements of society. You still have things you want to accomplish and are passionate about. It is only justice to yourself to continue to do the things that make you the happiest.
REMEMBER YOU ARE NEVER ALONE
Look around you at all of the elders and think about what their lives were like when they were in your position. Ask people for advice; you can never get too much advice about what to do if you don't know the answer. The world is a very confusing place, but you've got people all around you that care about you and would be more than happy to help you if ever you need it. Don't be afraid to ask.
I know for a while I was beginning to go hungry because I couldn't even afford to eat. I was dropping weight and gaining health issues from the malnutrition and stress. When things get to that point, please don't be afraid to ask someone for help, or even just tell someone you're having this problem. I know that once I reached out about my problems, there were people who wanted to help and I didn't even have to ask for help. You should never have to feel that far down.
I am thankful for the hardships that came and that continue to come as time moves further, but if I could start back at the beginning I'd do all of these things right from the get go. Live your life your way, be safe and be prepared. Remember you got this! Someday you'll be sitting in the house that you own, watching your favorite movie, eating some good food, and you'll think back to how hard you worked to get where you are. It'll all be worth it in the end. You just got to keep pushing and be organized.
Both Cheers & Boos to Early Adulthood!