How Dinner Has Become the Hardest Part of My Day

I've been waiting for so long to be 20 years old, living in an apartment with my best friend and making the most of college life on my own. But now that I'm here, I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. 

Moving away from home for the first time is obviously one of the most freeing and exciting parts of adulthood, but I feel like we’re often just thrown into it without covering all the bases. I think my parents did an amazing job in teaching me real-life skills, but one thing I never really grasped was how I would feed myself once I moved away. Living on my own came so easy to me — finding a routine, managing my schedule, making sure my responsibilities were taken care of — but the one thing I couldn’t figure out was my health when it came to eating.

I come from a family of five, so growing up I was grateful enough to always have food in the house. For years I watched my family plan a grocery list, and I’d go to the store with them on weekends and watch them buy all they needed to feed us. When I moved away from home, I sort of thought that the same system would work when I went grocery shopping — I’d just make the amount of food I bought smaller. I didn't take into consideration the fact that I’d have to plan these meals and make sure I actually ate them, or that not keeping my body properly energized would have an impact on my mental health as well. 

I want to cook meals for myself. I want to be able to nourish my body and keep it healthy. I just haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet. I buy my groceries and either never have the time or energy to cook them, or it's too late in the day for something to thaw out. I never get around to eating what I’ve bought, and it just sits in the fridge until it's old. I don’t want to spend more money on takeout, so I end up just not eating enough to keep myself feeling healthy. 

A photo of scrabble words assembled to spell uploaded to Pixabay by Wokandapix, but credit/attribution not required. It’s embarrassing to be doing pretty well for myself when it comes to academics, work and my personal life, yet somehow I’m unable to do something as simple as eating. I feel like most everyone I know is doing pretty well for themselves right now. My friends and I are smart and working hard to be successful. Everything else about adult life I seem to be able to figure out as it's thrown at me, but I lack the ability to make sure I’m eating enough meals throughout the day. To me, making yourself dinner sounds a lot easier than paying for a speeding ticket or trying to find a doctor that’ll take your insurance. So why am I more prepared to fix a flat tire on the interstate with no experience than I am to season and bake some chicken and vegetables? I’m not proud of the fact that I’m struggling with feeding myself, but I feel like I’m not the only young adult who has experienced this.

I know there have to be other people who have gone through this, and I hope they’re able to reach out and ask for help. I talked to my mom because I was really disappointed that I was unable to take care of myself to the point where even thinking about eating was causing me anxiety. My mom thinks that next week, I should try just buying my favorite breakfast foods and snacks. Then, instead of buying groceries for the week, I’ll buy groceries for dinner the day I’m gonna make it, use the leftovers the next day, and just repeat that process. There’s also always the option of meal delivery services that’ll send the necessary ingredients right to your front door for you to cook. You could even make it as simple as planning and prepping your meals, so you know way ahead of time what you’ll need to make and when.

Woman slicing tomatoes Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels Regardless of how you do it, or how I figure out to do it, it’s super important to feed yourself every day. Feeling weak, sick and tired all of the time isn’t worth it. I’m glad I was able to ask my mom for help, because an unhealthy relationship with food takes such a toll on you. It's something that I feel more adults my age deal with, but not enough people ever talk about. There’s no shame in not knowing how to maneuver your way through a kitchen, or how to schedule your next meal. We all know how hard it is to be an adult, but not everyone struggles in the same way. Talking about these things allows us to figure things out in our own way, which is all adulthood really is anyways: figuring things out one step at a time.