Oh the sweet, tender age of 17! The smell of licenses, minimum wage jobs, and college applications are in the air and everyone won’t stop talking about them. This is the year of making big adult commitments, but growing up is everything I’ve ever feared and now that it’s becoming a reality there’s nothing I can do but brace myself for the wilderness that is independence. All of my friends are committed to this idea and seem fearless and are even waiting for a punch in the face from life. I know I’m not going to be completely, 100 percent independent until I’m like 25 and that this is just the very beginning of everything, but I’m afraid of fully committing nonetheless.
Committing to the idea of college, a job, and independence as a whole doesn’t seem too bad for some teenagers, but for others (hint: me) it’s extremely terrifying. Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Girls or heard too many stories from my 20-something year old sisters, but I’ve tricked myself into having a bleak view of independence. Even though I’m a bit scared of the bigger picture, I’ve started committing to it by doing small things by myself like walking to places alone, ordering Starbucks by myself (I’m really shy when it comes to ordering things so this is a big milestone for me), and having my own change ready so I won’t need to ask my best friend if she has 25 cents I can borrow and embarrass myself in front of the cute cashier guy. These are very small and almost pointless steps and I’m fully aware of that, but god knows it’s progress for someone who slept with a nightlight until age 12.
One of my biggest fears about committing to full-fledged independence is being financially independent. My parents have emphasized that once I turn 18 I have to purchase my own clothes, pay for most of my college tuition, and pay for most of my car payment. That’s cool, I get it, my sisters have been doing all of those things and are doing great except for the occasional “I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY I JUST PAID FOR MY STUFF DON’T ASK ME FOR ANYTHING FOR SIX MONTHS.” So far I’m disciplining myself financially and spending my small amount of birthday money on necessities like sunscreen and chapsticks that I somehow end up losing two days later. Part of committing and preparing myself for independence is trying not to rely on my parents when it comes to buying dumb stuff like oversized handbags because the last thing I want is to be like the character Hannah Horvath from the HBO series Girls who feels completely insulted when her parents cut her off financially. I WANT TO BREAK UP WITH MY PARENTS BEFORE THEY BREAK UP WITH ME, FINANCIALLY SPEAKING.
I have some time left to sort everything out before life gets down to business, but baby steps to committing fully to my independence are essential because everyone needs to start somewhere and this is my somewhere. It’s a slow, yet fast progression that I’m so scared of and not fully prepared for, but life has always sort of been that way and will continue to be that way. One day it’s walking to your friends’ house alone, the next day it’s making mortgage payments. It’s basically the same thing.