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Adulting is Hard: Struggles I’m Facing as I’m Growing Up

Do you remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to go off to college after seeing PCA on Zoey101? Hmm… okay maybe it was just me, but I swear everything about Zoey’s boarding school seemed perfect. Even in high school, I found myself eager for change, ready for whatever joys college would bring me. Let’s just say college (in general) and adulting aren’t exactly shaping up the way I hoped it would be.

What does it mean to be a good friend?

I always knew I’m a roamer friend, meaning I’m the friend who bounced from group to group, mostly because I had individual friends and not a set group. I had friend groups from time to time, but they never turned out as I had planned in my head, that is, where everyone gets along and stays BFFs for life!

I realized once I got to college that losing friendships was inevitable. Distance between at-home and college friends presents challenges in itself, but new college friendships were coming and going much faster than I expected. I’d meet someone in the dining hall one day, maybe at a club meeting, or even in class hoping to build a friendship, and most, if not all, of these were temporary.

Temporary friends are fine, but, in my mind, I have to consider these people acquaintances, not friends like I want them to be. These relationships were like ticking time bombs just waiting to go off once the start of a new semester came around. Making friends is challenging, especially if you’re hoping to find ones that last a lifetime.

If I’ve learned anything at the start of adulthood, it’s important to take note of friendships that are no longer blooming. The ones that are draining you. The ones that feel one-sided. The ones that aren’t genuine. The ones that are causing you more stress and drama than good. Those friendships need to be ended. Trust me, you are so much better being alone than being with people around you who don’t support you or are bringing you down.

This semester I’ve had to decide to remove myself from a few friendships that no longer serve a good purpose for me. It’s not always the most comfortable or easiest thing to do especially if you see the friend often, but you’ll be glad you make those choices in the long run. That’s another thing that’s extremely important about growing up: your mental health and well-being.

Does any college student know what they’re doing?

I will say it once… and I will say it again: I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Yes, I decided on a college major, and yes I have a loose road map of what I want my life to look like in five years but it’s hard to comprehend what it’s actually going to look like. What will I end up doing every day? Who will be in my life? Where will I end up living? All these questions I have and guess what—there’s not a lot of answers.

I recently passed my content test for the state of Illinois, which means I’m one step closer to completing my licensure for becoming a secondary ELA teacher. That also means I’m getting closer to graduating. One year to be exact. Four classes left to take. I’ve wanted to go to college and get my degree and move on to the next chapter in my life yet I’m here right now and it’s not seeming as exciting as it once was.

I’ll have to make career decisions and decide where I want to live to start building a life for myself. Just makes me want to yell “Ahhh!” All I know is that everything will work out because it always does. One day I’ll look back on this article and be thinking about how all this worry was for no reason. After all, I believe it’s time all college kids collectively agree to not pretend like we have everything figured out all the time. You might… and that’s cool if you do, but there’s nothing wrong with the people like me who have no idea and are just going along for the ride.

Did you know that becoming an adult is expensive?

I’ve always thought I’ve been good with my money and budgeting, except for the occasional shopping spree or a trip to my beloved ULTA beauty. However, I’m slowly learning more and more about the not-so-fun parts of adulthood including finances.

It’s very important to learn how to budget your money, especially as a college student when you might not have the capability to work full-time and make a genuine living for yourself. What I’ve learned is that it does help to log your expenses each month and see how much you are spending on the necessities (grocery, rent, car payments) and wants (shopping, gifts, personal items).

I’m not an expert in finances and don’t have full independence yet but I do know it’s important to make a living for yourself and have the work ethic to be financially independent. I know that right out of college that might not be attainable until I get a career job but I do know that it’s super important, especially since the world we live in continues to expand and develop, meaning everyone’s expenses are increasing. With that in mind, just be mindful of your spending and do your research for finding ways to save or invest. Use your money wisely!

Did you know that once you move out things might be different at home?

Now, let me preface this by saying I LOVE my family so much. They are the most supportive and best people in the world. Yet now that I’ve been living on my own in an apartment, I’m realizing how the relationships are changing between us all. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s just different. Maybe it’s the growing up. Maybe it’s the distance and feeling disconnected at times. Maybe it’s just part of life but it’s a part I’m not ready to move on from.

I lived in a dorm freshman year until we were booted out during our second semester and sent home for remote learning. Then my sophomore year, I stayed home and did the entire year remote and not on campus. Essentially, I spent the least amount of time possible at ISU in my first two years. Junior year has been different. I’ve had to learn to exist and live in a new space. A new place I have to begin to view as a second home.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate my roommates or that I don’t like campus, but it’s just not the home I’ve known for the first twenty years of my life. And that change happened this year for me. I love being at home. I love being with my family.

And now I’m learning to love being away from home. I’m learning to accept the relationship changes now that I’m older. I’m aware I’ll always be my parent’s daughter and my brothers’ sister, but I have to be me too. I have to be okay with being on my own. (Now my younger brother does live across the street from me in his apartment, but I don’t even see him that often so it’s like I’m alone. The two of us have gotten extremely closer this year – which has been great). Learning to be okay on my own is a change I didn’t want to accept but I have to and guess what? I’m doing it. I’m learning how to be me on my own.

Do you know how helpful it is to have a routine?

I have always liked routines and making lists—yes, I’m that person if you couldn’t tell by my reading my articles. I did learn the hard way this semester how important is it to have a routine. After a busy last semester, I decided to focus more on self-care. However, that mindset led me into a more lazy morning routine than I’ve ever had.

My earliest class is at noon during the weekdays (excluding my 8 a.m. on Fridays) and so I found myself sleeping in until at least nine or ten, which for me is late. I’m someone who goes to bed at eleven or one in the morning and wakes up at the same time every day. I realized that having a consistent morning routine is SUPER important for me. Between balancing my academics, a part-time job, leading an RSO, a desire to explore new passions, a search for internships and summer jobs, a longing to meet lifelong friends and a healthy active lifestyle I could not do all these things without a routine.

I give myself days to sleep in when I can and do my best to give myself more breaks and spaces in my day to de-stress or do a form of self-care, but I’m much more productive at the beginning part of my day. I’m that student that can’t do their homework past seven or eight at night and I’ve been learning that it’s okay if I don’t work the same way as other people. What matters is that I set myself up for the best chance of succeeding and having a productive day. So I’d say if you like routines, keep one consistent and feel free to make adjustments as you need. If you aren’t a routine person then keep doing you, living in the moment and going with the flow.

Well, after reading over what I wrote I can say I’m officially growing up. I’ve learned that adulting is challenging. Life is challenging at times. What matters is how you face the challenges because life can be so rewarding. Just take it one day at a time and you’ll be just fine because these uncertainties and changes are all just part of the process – at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Always remember there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and each day will bring you new opportunities.

Lynn Merigold

Illinois State '23

Hi there! My name is Lynn, and I am grateful to be part of the Her Campus team at Illinois State. Thanks for stopping by!