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Condition of the Month–April

April 7, 2013

What’s life without a little give and take? Part of being a twenty-something is having to exchange some of the perks of childhood for the rewards of adult life. So here’s what the Naughty Princesses have to say about what they’ve lost, what they’ve gained, and where they stand since becoming a twenty-something.

cinderslut tile (2)When I was in college, like many college students, I relished my increasing freedom and decreasing dependence on my parents. Since then, I’ve gained even more independence, but I’ve sacrificed some in the process, too. In the last year I’ve gone from a real-world newbie, fresh out of school, to a bonafide twenty-something with a husband, a house, a full-time job, and a retirement plan. I’ve also relocated myself 12,000 miles away from my parents, essentially severing the remaining hold they had on me.

Perhaps the biggest change has been my work situation. I now teach high school English full-time, which is actually the job I’ve always wanted to have, the goal I spent my college years relentlessly moving towards. It sounds like a happy ending, and maybe it is, but there’s one thing I have certainly given up in order to get to this place: the freedom to go back, change my mind, erase my plans, and start again.

All the other jobs I ever had were temporary and flexible. Hours could change, my duties could evolve, my salary could increase, and I could always call in sick. Or quit, and find something new. But the career of a teacher is a pretty static one: you do more or less the same job year after year, although your school, subject, and students might change. Even though the pay is crap, this is a real job, and real jobs have real responsibilities attached. I don’t call in sick, because planning a lesson for a sub would only create more work for me, and wouldn’t do my students any good. And now that I’m in the process of investing thousands of dollars into a Master’s degree in Education, well, let’s just say I’ve sunk my roots. I’m a teacher, and that’s going to be part of my identity for a long time. I no longer have the freedom to change my major, my job, or my career, at the drop of a hat.

Yes, being in your twenties is often about struggling to find that job, that spouse, or that much-needed life direction, but it’s also the decade when a lot of us finally do find those things we’ve been looking for. So what do we do then?

–Cinderslut

little merskank tileI have been thinking about this question a lot this last week.  There are a lot of things I could say, but the most important answer is also the most mundane.  What I miss most about childhood- or even young-adulthood- is the idea that whatever happens, whatever sort of mess you get into, someone can get you out.  When you are young, other people carry the real burdens for you: they pay the rent, make the food, and figure out the big questions.  If you are a teenager and you go over your phone bill, someone else will pay it.  If your car breaks down on a back road, someone will come and pick you up.

When you are an adult you have to do those things yourself and if something goes wrong, well, you better try and fix it yourself.   This sort of independence, the idea that you and only you are responsible for yourself and your welfare, first hit me hard when I was a sophomore in undergrad.  That summer I went on a study abroad trip to Russia for ten weeks.  The first part of this epic adventure was an international flight, by myself.  Through a series of unfortunate and fortunate events (which I hope to elaborate on in a future post, since it is one heck of a good story), I had somehow lost my nice airline ticket on Finair and had to fly a sketchy route with a stop over in Moscow before transferring to St. Petersburg.  Have you ever been to the Moscow airport?  No?  Don’t go!  Ever!   Definitely the dirtiest, scariest, most stress-inducing airport I have ever encountered.  While I was there, I had to figure out how to get around Moscow on a public bus (don’t ask why), I had to change money, had taxi men try to cheat me, and people, instead of helping me, lie directly to my face—all, 100%, in Russian because no one at the Moscow International Airport seemed to speak any English at all.

It was an incredibly stressful experience; one of the most stressful in my whole life. But in a way it was also a coming of age experience, because there, in that moment, I had to rely on myself.  My mother was across the globe- thousands of miles away- and I couldn’t even call her; and if I did, what could she do?  Nope, I was on my own, trying to get to my next flight all in one piece, and if I did something wrong no one would be there to bail me out.  This was a real moment of adulthood for me.

So what is the upside to this story? Well, I guess, for me, it was that I did make it through—it was a long torturous, stressful journey but I did it.  So that is what adulthood means to me, knowing that when disaster strikes and no one’s there to help, you can rise to the occasion and take care of yourself.

–The Little Merskank

snowwhore tileI don’t really feel like I’ve had to give up that much going into adulthood. Maybe, since the growing up process is constantly happening in the background, I haven’t noticed drastic changes. And maybe, just maybe, I have a crazy energetic personality, so I will always still feel like a kid in some respects. But there is one thing that my adult life does not have, that I think back on fondly, and wish for with fervent hope. And that is a three month summer vacation. In my mind that was always the best part of being in school. Sure you had to work hard and do many essays and activities that seemed rather pointless, but you just had to make it to June and then you got three glorious months of vacation. Now I know that if I were a teacher like Cinderslut, I would still get that vacation, but barring that job, no other real job in the adult world gives you that wondrous vacation. And I miss that. I understand, three months is a long time, but how about one month? Even that would be amazing. I feel like most adults would appreciate that time, and it would probably cut way back on the number of people who pull their hair out and go insane from working all the time. It should be a law required to sustain our mental health. The Europeans get a lot of vacation time, and they still seem to get things done, so I don’t know why we can’t have that here in America. But since that isn’t how it we do it, I will simply continue to mourn that part of being a child.

–Snow Whore

sleeping booty tileAdult? I’m not sure I feel quite there yet (though while holding my cousin’s new baby last week I realized that I do actually want to have children someday. For a while there I had myself convinced I’d be happy growing old as the cool aunt to the children of my friends… NOT the case.) Adult to me means having a permanent address, a committed significant other, or any sort of planned future at all. It means car payments and baby sitters, careers and Garden Club meetings. Right now I don’t have any of that, and if I ever did they’ve all been surrendered since moving back in with my parents.

Besides exchanging school for work, it seems like my freedoms and responsibilities haven’t much changed over the last 10 years. I still work hard to impress my family, still feel supported in most everything I suggest. Still get reprimanded for watching TV, still take the time to tease my brother. Still don’t pay for toilet paper and still don’t have a curfew (my mother told me to have “at least two beers and connect with at least three boys” as I left for my friend’s Monday night kegger party last week). The only things I can think of that have actually changed in the last 10 years are being able vote, drink, and drive (though usually not all at once).

So what have I gained? What do I miss? Maybe I’ve gained perspective, strength, intelligence? Maybe I miss my teenage range of emotions, indestructible metabolism, ability to sneak through small spaces? Maybe I just haven’t become enough of an adult to have figured this out yet.

Here is the bottom line, every day for the last ten years I’ve had to trade in one future day for one past day. And as much as it sucks and scares me and messes with my head to see those accounts exchange, yes, it is worth it. Because what is the point of saving your future days if you’re never going to use them?

–Sleeping Booty

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2013 9:38 am

    I had a recent get together with some friends, I guess you could call it our first college reunion. One of the major topics was basically this same, what challenges we’re facing now and what we miss. I’ve been lucky enough to get a job, I have what I think is a great place with awesome roommates, and a pretty amazing boyfriend. I really thought I would only have 1 of these three things during my first year after college, but I lucked out. I’m really coming to enjoy my time as an “adult”. Sure there’s a lot more I need to take on and less I can assume someone else will take care of, but life’s door has opened so much wider! I’m looking forward to expanding my horizon while holding onto my inner child.

  2. April 9, 2013 10:03 am

    True that, Katie. Ain’t no way we’re giving up that inner child. ever. And the possibilities are endless! We can do anything we set our heart on!

    But Cindy, what do you do when all your dreams come true, really? Do you feel satisfied? Do you find new(additional) dreams?

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