Growing up, am I right? It is not something any of us have a say in or signed up for because Father Time just does what he does. Everyone tells you that college is this newfound freedom and opportunity to be and do anything your heart desires, which I will agree is true. However, what they do not tell you is the absolute struggle, the many tribulations and the overall headache that comes with this newfound world called adulthood. 

   Now, I know what you are thinking: that is a hard pill to swallow, and I was not prepared. Well, as I look back on this journey emerging as a junior, that was a hard pill for me to swallow and I was and still am not at all prepared. Excluding coming in during COVID-19 and temporarily attending Zoom University, there was immense pressure and unknowns arriving in a world I had only seen in movies and dreamed about. It was a challenge to adjust my kid-at-heart mentality to an adult-only world. I will say this: there is a reason why “High School Musical” stopped with senior year. There is a reason for the “High School Musical 4” SNL skit. 

    Regardless, I knew the world was not going to wait and mold for me until I felt comfortable; I had to mold into the world while being uncomfortable. I had to learn to stay true to my morals, beliefs and the growing knowledge that continues to elevate day by day, even in the face of adversity. I had to mold into someone more responsible, more logical and more mature since I now have my own apartment and had to learn the hard way that being employed is one of the top ways to maintain things. Money does indeed make the world go around. 

     Freshman year, I remember not going to the cafe as much (or at all), but I did go to Chick-fil-A and used DBs like there was no tomorrow. Looking back, the way I spent DBs is how I spent real money: impulsively and usually gone within a day. Nonetheless, I believe that living off campus and getting a job or two helped me acquire an understanding of how the real world works. Disregarding the inevitable fact of debt, allowing myself to make my own money from my own work gives me an indescribable feeling that heals me and even calms my inner child. 

     There is something about the true world of adulthood behind college dreams and expectations that gets easier (in other words, more manageable). Whatever knocks you down (and trust me, it will), there is no choice but to get back up and fight ten times as hard. You get to show not just others but yourself that you are evolving into your own individual in a way that only works for you. Obviously, it is not a walk in the park, and you will spend multiple nights crying to sleep instead of eating; nonetheless, the joy is in the journey, and the best ones are the ones that end in success from the struggle. 

     The main thing I have learned on this journey and am still learning is balance. The “secret ingredient,” if you will, to all of life’s madness and chaos is giving yourself the benefit of the best of both worlds. What I mean is that throughout life, there will be times where you will be looking like a circus act the way you have to balance. We are all college students and a lot of factors play a role, such as sacrifices, friendships, health and much more. That is why it is important to set boundaries, take a deep breath and participate in self-care when things become too overwhelming. Whether it is an account balance or a personal balance, there will be a decline, and that is because it gives you the opportunity to get up and grow up as the new young adult you are.