On wanting to be/actually being a grown up

Here’s an announcement I would like to make to the world: I, Lauren, am 24 years old and am a fully-functioning, financially stable adult.

I can hear the applause from all of you and, really, it’s heartwarming.

But why is it so easy to say, and so hard to actually do? As much as I’d like to think I’m a grown up, there are many things in life that make me feel like it is otherwise.

AWESOME PARTS OF GROWING UP

Apartment (with a pantry! And a washer and dryer!), check. Car, check. Big girl job, check. Macaroni and cheese every single night for dinner if I want (and, let’s be honest, I always want), check. Lots and lots of bills, check.

Maybe the bills aren’t exactly awesome, but they are a constant reminder of how on my own I am. No longer do I have the convenience of sweet-talking my way into my folks paying for my gas, or for my electricity to be free when living at home. I have to pay for what I use, and it’s liberating in a weird sort of way. I have bills because I’m an adult, and being an on-my-own-in-this-big-bad-world adult is kind of awesome. Plus, it reminds me that the reason I’m able to afford these bills is that I am #blessed to have a pretty awesome job at a pretty awesome place.

NOT-SO-AWESOME PARTS OF GROWING UP

I can announce to everyone that I’m 24, and therefore am old enough to be “on my own.”

Getting people to believe me is a different story.

Case in point, my lovely parents. Lately, I feel like I’ve been having an uphill battle to prove myself, despite all of the Medals of Adultdom I have achieved post-grad (and even during school). There are points where I want to scream that they can’t tell me what to do. There are points where I could pull my hair out at my frustration of what feels like this ever-present leash.

There are times I wish I could say “I’m still your child, but I’m not a child anymore,” and have it actually mean something.

They are my parents. I respect and love them wholeheartedly, but I am struggling with stepping out from underneath their shadow and doing things that I want to do, apart from things that are parent-approved. If I want to spend all of my savings on a trip to Europe, then I feel like I am old enough to make that (potentially stupid) decision and go. If I want to chop off my hair or get a tattoo, then I should be able to without having to feel guilty because my mom will look at me with those sad, why-have-you-hurt-me-so puppy dog eyes.

I guess what I’m struggling with is: how old do I have to be before my parents, and the whole world, realizes that I’m not a kid anymore? How old do I have to be before my parents take a step back and really and truly mean it when they say “We have X, Y, and Z concerns, but you’re old enough and we trust you”? At what age does it suddenly become okay to make potentially life-altering decisions—a trip to Europe! buying a car! getting married!—without them having a (literal) panic attack?

AN ODE TO GROWING UP

I, Lauren, am 24 years old and am a fully-functioning, financially stable adult. I realize I have a lot of growing left to do. I realize I’m probably going to make a lot of stupid mistakes in life, and some of that will ease as I grow older. I also realize that, at 24, I’m not doing half bad for myself, and many of the decisions I’ve made so far have actually been pretty good ones.

Alexandra tells me that: maybe the point is that my parents may never actually accept me being a grown up, sadly but truly. Instead, I have to accept that that’s in fact okay. I will do what I am going to do and that’s a part of what being a grown up is.

Lauren is a social media professional/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.

Working a Work Conference (Part 2)

The morning I went to the work conference, I was pretty sure I was going to get sick.

This wasn’t because I had come down with the case of the flu or had food poisoning, but because it felt like my insides were turning inside out. I was so anxious about going and having to survive several days in a sea of people I didn’t know. I was certain this was going to be terrible.

And like most things you’re dreading, it was all over before I knew it. I had successfully made it through all five of my social media presentations. I found a group of people I could talk to. I even did pretty well at casino night.

Minute by minute, the conference went by. The worst part was breakfast, where I’d go down to the big room full of tables alone and quickly scan for someone, anyone that was a friendly face. And after that, it was sitting in rooms and listening to speakers or milling about at cocktail hour.

When it was finally over and I was back home, I sighed relief that I had survived, and not altogether terribly. My presentations went great, if I may say so myself. I had walked around for several hours in heels. I even tried moonshine (which was strangely endorsed by everyone there, and was considered some sort of “initiation” into my first work conference with them. Verdict: the lemonade kind is dangerously delicious. The cherry kind tastes like nail polish remover smells).

I won’t say I wasn’t shy and anxious and overwhelmed the whole time. That would be a lie. I was in a constant state of stress, trying to appear like the cool and collected new girl who gets to sit on social media all day at work. But, I will say that it got easier as it went on. My presentations were a great icebreaker. My roommate was the sweetest thing, who introduced me to several of her friends. People were curious about what I thought about the company, being such a newbie in a room full of veterans.

If Present-Day Lauren were to speak to Pre-Conference Lauren, she would say this:

  • Practice yoga. Or learn to meditate. Or take some deep breaths. Or something. It is okay to be nervous, but don’t let nerves ruin you.
  • Don’t wear a necklace where the pendant has a tendency to fall off, no matter how cute it is. Having a charm fall down your shirt in the middle of a presentation is a little awkward.
  • Every single person who is going to the conference has been a new kid at one point, too. Know that you’re not the only one, and not the last one, and rely on those who have been there to be your guide.
  • Even though it may feel like it, it isn’t the end of the world.

Next time, I’ll be ready. Maybe. Probably. The odds are in my favor. A few weeks after the conference, people still remember my presentation—someone came up to me today to ask me about my dog, which I talked about frequently—and that feels good. So, what do I need to say to Pre-Next-Conference Lauren? Just breathe; you’ll do just fine.

Lauren is a social media professional/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.

Never Quit (Except Maybe When You Should)

Once upon a time, I went to Ireland… and I hated it.

Except for the views. How could you hate views like this? (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)

Except for the views. How could you hate views like this? (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)

There were many things wrong with it: it was thousands of miles away from home, I was missing everything (including seeing my brother graduate high school and celebrating my 21st birthday with my friends), and they drove on the wrong side of the street and I had this job that totally wasn’t for me. That’s what I told my mom, anyway, that Monday afternoon about five days after I had arrived, trudging up the stairs to get to the LUAS (an above-ground subway).

“I don’t like it and I want to quit and I want to come home and, like, this isn’t what I signed up for and I miss you and can I come home now?” She listened patiently, then told me I could come home, but only if I stayed for just a little bit longer, just to make sure that I really did hate it after all.

Fast forward approximately three months later, and I felt disappointed as the plane landed back on US soil. I was home. And the magical summer abroad, where I learned and loved many things, was over, including my job as intern-extraordinaire at New Island Books. I had listened to my mom’s advice, and I had stayed, and I had had one of the best summers of my life (and one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had, too).

I returned to Michigan State for my senior year, ready to start a 15-credit hour semester with three jobs. For one of them, I worked at a newspaper. And for many reasons, most nights I went home sobbing, hating every minute of my four-hour shifts.

Momma and I (circa 1993-94?)

Momma and I (circa 1993-94?)

“I don’t like it and I want to quit and can’t I just come home?” She repeated what she had said a few months prior: I could quit, but only if I stayed just a little bit longer.

I did. And I still quit three months later. It was for more reasons than “I didn’t like it,” but the fact of the matter was I was so unequivocally miserable in life (at the time) and with that job that I needed to go.

My mom taught me to never be a quitter. You finish what you start, and that is that.

But I think there’s a fine line between choosing happiness over staying just to prove a point to yourself or someone else. There comes a time when you know something isn’t working and you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, my mom isn’t right.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is not always a best answer to the situation. Could I have left Ireland and been happy? I think so. Could I have suffered through that newspaper job and been okay? Probably.

Hindsight can give you the answers you wished you had had, but there is something to be said for your instincts. Trust your heart. Follow happiness, wherever it takes you. But maybe consider sticking with something, even if you aren’t 100% happy at first, because you never know where life will take you. Sometimes my mom is right, and sticking with something will give you one of the best experiences of your life.

Lauren is a social media professional/corporate writer/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.