For some, the end of the school year rolling around is just another notch in the belt of these precious college years. But for others, this coming June is truly the start to some big-time, capital-A-adult changes. We’re enthusiastically waving goodbye to our dorm rooms, and timidly muttering hello to the cheapest apartment we ~hope~ we can afford. But it sure isn’t going to be a smooth and easy ride into adulthood now, is it?
Simply put: no, my friend, it surely is not.
Here are six nail-biting worries you might experience before moving into your first apartment. But don’t claim definitive hopelessness yet—we’ve thrown a few resolutions in there, too!
1. What if my landlord is Hell personified?
Uh oh. The toilet isn’t flushing. Well—it kind of is. You’ve tried plunging it, you’ve tried closing the lid and pretending it never happened. But you know darn well that the lease specifically said to report to your landlord anything in need of maintenance. Although he or she seemed relatively friendly right off the bat, you’re certain there could be some sort of underlying, demonic entity behind that so-called smile. Right? You’re better off just trying to make it work, yourself. There’s nothing a little elbow grease won’t do!
…until you end up making matters a whole lot worse. And your wallet (or your parent’s wallet) ends up suffering the consequences.
When you’re a renter, putting your big-kid pants on is pretty much a necessity. Even if your landlord or site manager scares the heck out of you, taking responsibility for the place you’ll be living in for the next 12 months is, well—your responsibility. And being responsible means reaching out to people you know can help you. If your landlord can’t or refuses to help you, then take matters into your own hands. But before you do, always ask!
2. What if the only thing I know how to cook is a bowl of Frosted Flakes?
Let’s not be too self-deprecating, it’s Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. You can switch it up every now and then, keep the menu on rotation—you’ll be fiiiiiine. Who needs proper nourishment, anyway? Definitely not someone in the pivotal, budding age of their early-twenties!
Reality check: you know who’s going to be your best friend once you’re free of those dreaded-yet-equally-as-wonderful meal swipes? YouTube. There is an infinite amount of cooking videos on the Internet. That’s right! You don’t even need cable to access some Food Network quality, step-by-step instruction. Practice makes delicious, and in a few weeks or so, you’ll have that veggie lasagna perfected to the basil leaf. Guy Fieri would be proud.
3. What if I can’t make friends with my neighbors?
No more dorm hall, no more Art under the Arch. Yet again, you’re thrown into a living situation surrounded by strangers. Strangers who may or may not be around your age, strangers who may or may not care if you have to study for a midterm on Friday night, or strangers who may or may not particularly abide to the “neighborliness” of being a neighbor. You’ve tried waving across the parking lot, and you’ve attempted more than a few smiles. Even, “Weather—am I right?” could spark a friendly reaction. Maybe freshly baked cookies might help? It works in the movies, doesn’t it?
Whether or not it’s easy to accept, your apartment complex really isn’t another dorm building full of bushy-tailed and wide-eyed college students. It may be for the most part, but you have to prepare yourself for the expansion of a world outside of Cal Poly—a world in which not everyone wants to be your friend. Don’t worry, as long as you’re civil, that peculiar guy Sebastian in apartment 29 won’t accuse you of stealing his magazine subscription to Boat Lovers Monthly.
4. What if I lose my connection to Cal Poly?
Speaking of an expanded world outside of Cal Poly, you can’t help but feel like moving off-campus will thin the ties you have to campus. When you live in your first apartment, the ease of walking to class won’t be much of ease anymore. You’ll probably have to drive or take the bus—and not only for class, but for club meetings and events, too. Einstein’s is going to seem so far away, and you might not see the entire familiar faces you used to when living in one of the dorms.
When you lived on campus, you had a sort of an inexplicable connection to Cal Poly, and all the other students living on campus. Living off campus will change that, but it won’t entirely go away. Being a Mustang is a lifetime role. Just because you no longer live mere feet away from the UU, and just because you’re slowly dipping your toes into adulthood, it doesn’t mean you’re anything less of a Poly student. In fact, you get more of an opportunity to appreciate our campus. The time you spend on Dexter, at the Rec, or even inside Ciao will be conscious and admired time; if anything, living off-campus will make your connection to Cal Poly will grow even stronger.
5. What if I end up hating where I chose to live?
The water pressure is less of a stream and more like a dribble, a bike gets stolen on the weekly and there’s a slight scent of cat pee in the air. Constantly. You hate it here, you hate your neighbors, you hate your landlord, and you feel like you’ve made the worst mistake in the history of potentially horrible mistakes. But, your pretty, little signature is on that lease. Cue the sad, sad Adele song because you’re stuck here, and there’s really not anything you can do about it.
But before you wallow too deeply in your sorrow, haven’t you ever heard the quote, “we learn from our failures, not our successes?” Well, now you have! Although you may not have done the best research this time around, you now have the opportunity to do so for your next place. Becoming an adult means learning to accept that success is not synonymous with perfect, nor is happiness. We make mistakes, and we often have to suffer the consequences. The worst thing we can do is let those sufferable consequences discourage us. So whenever you have free time, get to that Google search bar! Talk to your friends, your classmates—see where everyone else is living. Find the right place for you because these years matter more than we think.
Oh, and don’t be too bummed about the crappy living situation you have now—think about all the awesome stories you’ll end up having.
6. What if I’m not ready to grow up?
The bills, the cooking, the cleaning, the rent, the everything! It’s all so much, and it’s all so daunting. Last night, you were just lying under the covers watching yet another episode of Rick and Morty to purposefully prevent yourself from doing your homework. You still forget to eat a meal sometimes, and it’s been like, three weeks since you’ve checked your mailbox. You’re not ready to adult! You can’t be! It’s impossible, it’s absurd, and now you’re just going to stay in bed all day so you don’t have to come to terms with it.
Well, it’s time to face the facts: you are ready to adult. You’ve made it through at least one year of college (even if it was the most stressful year of your life), you’ve moved away from home (even if it was just a few miles away), and you’ve begun to conquer this new part of your life in the exact way that you’re meant to (even if it doesn’t really feel like it, yet).
Every day, you’re another step closer to being the person you’re meant to be. The person you’re meant to be, whether you like it or not, is a fully-grown human accomplishing their fully nurtured dreams. It takes work, and even more so, it takes acceptance. So, take a deep breath. Take five deep breaths. Take a hundred! Take as many as you need to—without hyperventilating—and know that you can do this. You’re here, you’ve put down a security deposit, you’ve signed the lease, and you and I both know you’ve already picked out a new duvet cover—but most of all, you are growing up.