Black Girl, Red State*: Adulthood

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* Disclaimer: Black Girl, Red State is a column. It deals with Race and Social Issues, and is devoted to Understanding. It shares inner feelings of a Black student in a predominately White state. It is an opinion piece. The title and material are personal to the writer but provide a narrative that she believes is needed for readers to understand the message and feelings that she is trying to get across.

As a child we always wish to grow up. Naively we assume that adulthood will be the answer to all the minor problems we face. I remember always dreaming what my college life would consist of. I had planned my life down to the tiniest detail. I planned out what clubs I’d join, what sports I’d play, the topic I’d study all in advance. In my head I had this mistaken notion that college would be like high school. When I say like high school, I mean a sense of unity for me, that a support system would be in place as far as my family, and when all hell broke loose a phone call to my mother would save the day. Once you step into the limelight of adulthood you realize you must figure out most things on your own, at least that’s my experience thus far. You finally realize and learn a couple lessons that as a child you didn’t grasp.

I remember knowing that my mother got paid on Thursdays, so I would always wait until Friday to ask for something I wanted. I thought I knew it all and on one occasion I asked for something outrageous and her response was “I have no extra money for that.” I can recall asking myself “how is it possible be broke on payday?” In my 18th year I learned the answer. When responsibilities consume the pay, you go without what you want because you can live without it. Your only focus is the things you need to survive. Shelter, food, light, household expenses, all these play a factor in the responsibility you take on when wanting to be Independent.

Ironically college turned out to be a place that taught me life lessons. It gave me the ability to appreciate what is in the now and stop living in what life could be. It made me wish that I could turn back the hands of time and enjoy my youth. Enjoy the miniscule things that I once took for granted like having the ability to get what I needed, having toilet paper, a roof over my head, food to eat at night, and having nice furniture without having to pay for it myself (do you all know those stuff are expensive!!).

It’s been a journey for me, but more of a fable with every chapter of life teaching me a new lesson. A few would be to know the value of things that I have because in a quick blink they can turn into what I had. In these college years it feels like I’m in limbo and I know others in college can feel like they’re stuck listening to the wants everyone else has for them. We don’t necessarily know what we want for ourselves other than to be successful at whatever we pick. We know what we need to do to provide a better life for the future, however, it doesn’t always work out how we want it to. We can wake up and everything that meant the most to us doesn’t matter anymore. Something insides us changes, the drive we once possessed is gone and we find ourselves feeling like we should have it all figured out by now. Like we should know what we’re destined to be in life and build on it.

I hate to be that person who says it but . . .

Stop rushing. Enjoy the experience of college. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to figure it all out but remember to do what makes you genuinely happy. If I could give advice to myself coming in freshman year it would be to prepare for change. Especially if you are a person whose family is many miles away. Change is the only thing that has seemed constant throughout my experience. Your perfect schedule will change, your lifestyle in the middle of the semester could change, your wants, your needs, and most importantly you can change. The easiest way to accept that is by embracing it. Taking time to appreciate what life has to offer while it is still offering it.

Trust me, I know how much it can suck to accept all that’s going on and still have to be on your game but remember that it is okay to cry when you want too, scream when you need too, laugh even when you’re having a terrible day. That’s what makes us human.

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