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Why I Am Not Qualified To Be An Adult In College

Adulting is defined as “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” This year I was more than excited to return to campus and salvage what was left of my undergraduate experience. After being home for over a year, getting back into the world on my own was long overdue. I knew that adulting was going to be a struggle, but this was an inevitable challenge that I was ready to tackle.  

I’ve only been here for four weeks and I’ve already learned that being an adult is an olympic sport that I’m definitely not qualified for. One day it feels like you have it figured out and the next you’re ready to call your mom to pick you up. However, my purpose isn’t to dwell on my problems, but to recap the lessons I’ve learned in order to encourage others to not feel bad about their own. After all, we’re all trying our best to adjust.

The first lesson that was very apparent to me is that cooking isn’t one of my strengths. Most of my knowledge comes from playing Cooking Mama games on my Nintendo 3DS back in elementary school. As someone who no longer has the luxury of having a meal plan, I spend most of my time being indecisive about what to eat and then struggling to find the energy to make it. While surviving solely off of ramen and frozen chicken nuggets is extremely tempting, unfortunately it’s very unhealthy. Within the first week, I’ve managed to set the fire alarm off due to barely knowing how to use an electric stove, but the fact that the apartment hasn’t burned down yet is an accomplishment to me. Somehow I have managed to improve and produce some tasty meals. Still, I don’t even want to know what Gordon Ramsey would say about some of my attempts. After hearing my struggles, don’t worry if you’ve had any similar experiences because it’s a learning process. Truly, it can only get better from here.

Another thing I’ve discovered is just how bad my sense of direction is, as I have gotten off at the wrong bus stop multiple times. However, as pop icon Hannah Montana famously said “You’ll always find your way back home”. If you’re a little lost, it’s okay, we all are — mentally or literally. It can be hard navigating new spaces. 

(P.S. if anyone sees me gasping for air as I walk to class, please look the other way)

The reason I can share my hardships without crying is because I know they’ll pass. I’m grateful to be discovering more about myself and where I fit in, even if I learned some of it the hard way. With this newfound independence comes trial and error. We’re juggling classes, minimal sleep, internships, jobs and clubs while still trying to keep a social life. Nonetheless, we’re all in this together, and those that I’ve met that can relate have made this process more worthwhile. 

I’ve come to appreciate that college is full of a lot of things: 1) Feeling so overwhelmed with work in Week 1 that you debate your life choices; 2) Hoping that you don’t accidentally commit fraud on your FAFSA; 3) struggling to find your crowd and building bonds that will last a lifetime; 4) Having a mental breakdown if you need to, but picking yourself up after, and lastly, 5) Stepping out of your comfort zone and being uncertain. 

Therefore, give yourself a break and be proud of how far you’ve come already. College is full of memories you’d never thought you would make, but in the end you’ll be grateful for them. A good friend of mine reminded me that there’s no timeline to have everything figured out by. From this article it’s obvious that I’m still finding my way, but the beauty of college is that everyone else is too. 

Kayla Atkinson

UC Irvine '23

Hello everyone! My name is Kayla Atkinson and I am psychology and sociology double major. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, binging Netflix and reading a good book. I hope you enjoy my work!
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