HAILEYSTONES| Living Outside The Box

LEARNING how to balance work and an actual life is harder than I thought it would be. For one, I am still feeling a little displaced, but in a good way. When you realize that the adult in your life is now you, things start to change. My sense of time is very weird because I don’t have 8AM classes anymore — or any classes, for that matter — and I am still adjusting to not being a student anymore. Priorities shifted, for sure, but that was to be expected. Responsibility is something that has never scared me, if it meant that I was in control of my own life.

Well, I am now, and it’s the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me.

There are obvious ones, like the thought that you can stay up late and no one will rag on you. But there are also actual responsibilities that come with that, such as deciding which things to get when you’re at the grocery. It is my favorite adult chore. Just recently I did the groceries all by myself, and I didn’t miss a thing, and I went under my own self-imposed budget. For the first time in my life I was so proud of myself, that I went and bought the biggest box of Honey Stars cereal that was in the store.

This is not a plug for anything. I actually do love Honey Stars cereal, what with the little moons and rockets and the bear in the spacesuit. But, back when someone else was controlling the budget, I could never buy as much of it as I wanted because it was “too expensive”. So, when I got my first paycheck, I went and bought myself the biggest effing box I could find. This isn’t much of a problem because I don’t get stuff like canned or junk food or hair products. It was my one splurge.

The fact that I could buy it without getting judgmental looks was so liberating, so freeing, that I actually cried when I got home and ate my first bowl. It was that feeling, that sense of being able to do what you want, that I had fought so hard to get for the past six years. It meant everything to me to be able to do that. My Naynay was so surprised at this that she thought that I had broken up with my boyfriend. I was just happy, despite making my bowl of cereal salty with my tears. They were happy tears, “thank God I finally own my life” tears.

Paying bills is like ripping off a Band-aid at this point, but they’re just tiny blips on the radar compared to everything else that’s been going on. There are still things that I’m working on getting that make me anxious, like filing income taxes and getting health insurance, but I knew what I was getting into. I have never been as happy as I was when I was eating that bowl of cereal. I have written a book, gotten 1.0 grades, submitted an undergraduate thesis and gotten it approved. . . but this was success. You know how, when you’ve been cooped up for so long, that when you’re finally not in that position anymore, it almost seems unreal? That’s what it’s like.

I’m not saying that it’s easy. In fact, it is quite difficult to balance everything that I have to do with the things that I want to do. I still want to learn Italian — as I promised my boyfriend, David — and to get into law school. I want to teach. I want to figure things out. I want an electric frying pan for my kitchen and a mini fridge for my room so I can always have cold water in my bedroom.

I may not be able to get all of that stuff done at once, but I will. Tiny victories, like being able to choose your own cereal and having no curfew, and finally clearing out closet space for the clothes that you outgrew, is what keeps me going. There isn’t much that’s new. I still keep a diary. I still obsess over Harry Potter fanfiction. I’m still scared of mascots. Heck, I may never get over my fear of mascots.

What’s new is that I’m now in a position to make my dreams come true. Finally.

Posted in Opinion