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.

Doing scary things is good for you (+ my new job)

I started a new job last week. For those of you who are curious and nosy, I’m working at EnVeritas, a Content Marketing Firm doing social media and other cool web things. My official title is Digital Media Coordinator (sounds cool, right?! Right!).

Starting a new job is always terrifying. It’s CHANGE. It’s something new, in a place you haven’t proven yourself, with people you don’t know. It’s easy to stay somewhere comfortable and lose the opportunities that give you butterflies and nausea all at the same time.

My experience might be a little more nauseating because now I’m working part time.

I quit a full time, comfortable, not-particularly-difficult job for a part time, more challenging, and what-I-really-want-to-do job. Taking a leap like this is always scary. I have freelance on the side, I have the possibility of what could come at this job, but mostly I had my own guts to be able to take the step into a new company, position, and field.

Lauren talked about taking risks in her last post, and I guess I really wanted to expand on that, to show once again that doing scary things is the biggest character builder ever. I’ve done some other scary things in my life. I moved down to South Carolina without a job, traveled to China alone at age 17 (don’t worry, I was with people in China), and spent vast amounts of my free time writing novels (seriously, it can be a lil’ scary sometimes). Every single time the experience brought me perspective, more humility, less stupidity, and more to give.

Go do something wild (but don’t get yourself arrested). You’ll thank me.

Vanessa is a digital media coordinator by day and a writer, novelist, and badass cook by night. She loves used bookstores, is way too serious about tea, and doesn’t give a damn if she wears the same outfit 2 days in a row. She totally wants to be your friend, so you should follow her on twitter & maybe check out her writing blog.

Life, Edited

Age 19

My mom laughed when I told her I wanted to go to Europe. For whatever reason, I felt a distinctive tug to go and — I don’t know — explore, find myself, spread my wings, eat food…whatever. “You?” She smiled, “Honey, you’re so shy.”

She was right. I have always had this paralyzing fear of the world — and for no reason other than I am happily an introvert that would rather curl up with a book on a Saturday night than go out to a club. I don’t blame my mom for laughing. If I had really listened to myself, I would’ve laughed too. I would never make it.

Age 20

My professor asked what I wanted to do with my life. It was a question I had gotten too many times in my life, and my rehearsed answer was “work in a publishing house.” It was true — I even had my job title picked out: Acquisitions Editor. My professor, Laura (I’ll tell you more about her awesomeness later), nodded. “Where?” I hadn’t quite thought of that. Wasn’t picking out a job title enough? I shrugged. Laura asked, “Would you ever live abroad?” I blinked and answered, “Sure,” because I was scared and I wanted her to interrogate anyone else but me and that was a quick answer. “What about Ireland?” she asked. “Okay,” I said.

Age 20.8

In front of the security gate, flanked by my mom and my older brother. In a few hours, my flight would take off and I’d fly far far away from everything I’d ever known for three months. I was terrified. There was nothing I wanted more than my mom to tell me I didn’t have to go. Instead, she kissed me, told me to be safe and that she missed me already.

Age 21

Duplex in Dundrum, Ireland. I was handed a stack of thick manuscripts of everything from poetry to fantasy, from history to crime novels. “Read them,” they instructed, “let us know if any of them are good.” And so I read, and throughout the course of the summer, decided the fate of over 200 want-to-be-novelists.

Age 23

Cubicle. I work at a college in southern Michigan now. I’ve been away from MSU for over a year, and from Ireland for almost two. I’ve learned a lot since I came back, but I think one of the biggest things I learned is even though I lost a lot of things because I went overseas (my then-best friends, my then-boyfriend), I’ve gained so much more. I know I am capable of so much more, I know so much more about the professional world, and most importantly: I know (and like!) myself. I like who I have become because I took a leap of faith based on a hunch I had when I was 18, and based off a professor’s whimsical suggestion.

It all boils down to this: if something deep down is telling you something, trust it. It might be outlandish and out of your comfort zone and your mom may roll her eyes at you, but you know what? That’s okay. Because I did what I thought I needed to do and it was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. It changed my life, as cliche as that is. I took a leap of faith.

Maybe you should too.

Lauren is a social media guru/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.