As a 20something in America, I am here to tell you that the quarter life crisis is a real thing. I know that it seems silly to most, but at the awkward age of 27, I’ve found myself looking around and wondering, “What have I been doing all of these years?” I appreciated learning about the Pythagorean Theorem in high school. It was a great experience, but now that I am an adult, let me just tell you that a2+b2=c2 means nothing to Sallie Mae! At the sweet age of 17, I wrote about where I wanted to be in 10 years. As I read over that naïve paragraph in my senior book, I can’t help but to wonder where is my loving husband, two children, doctorate degree in physical therapy and BMW. Where?! I did not write that I would be divorced, living with my aunt, working on a master’s degree and driving a Hyundai Elantra.
If I could talk to 17 year old Tashara, I’d school her on some things that she needs to know in order to make it in adult life. I polled some of my Facebook friends and they all confirmed my thoughts. I could list 100 things, but we’ll keep this simple. Millenials, here are five things that 20somethings need to know about life after high school.
Your metabolism will no longer work in your favor (or at all): I was a chubby child. During my adolescent years I discovered the sport of basketball. With basketball came a coach who firmly believed in conditioning. He believed in conditioning so much that there were many practices where we did not even bring out balls. All we did was run until someone threw up or passed out. Those were the good ol’ days filled with team camaraderie, incessant energy, chicken finger baskets from Dairi Queen, pizza from Papa John’s and junior bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s. I could eat anything and gain nothing. Then I went to college where I met my first friend named the freshman fifteen. It’s been downhill from there. Now that I am 20something and my metabolism is slower than dial up internet (do y’all remember AOL and Netzero?). I have noticed that even if I look at fattening foods, my hips spread. Working out takes a bit more effort than it used to. Young Tashara, never stop working out and lay off the sweets. Your hips are what you eat.
A Credit Score is the only score that matters: Living in the Deep South where football is a religion, I sometimes forget that there is another score other than football scores. Who knew that three numbers could determine so much? Sunday school taught me that the only three numbers I needed to know were 3:16. As much as I am grateful for God so loving the world and sending his only begotten Son for me, I can’t write that on an apartment application or a car loan. Why didn’t they teach us about credit cards and APR in high school math classes? That is what matters more than knowing the degrees of an isosceles triangle. Why did I pay end up paying $7500 for a pair of jeans at American Eagle? Young Tashara, credit means that you have to pay it back. Just skip the jeans, you don’t need them anyway.
College costs more than your life is worth: You are encouraged to go to college. Your guidance counselor makes sure that you fill out several applications, take the SAT/ACT, and pass the graduation exams. What they don’t tell you is that these days a Bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma. They also don’t tell you about the trap of financial aid and a stalker named Miss Sallie Mae. College seems like the gateway to an instantaneously beautiful life, but young graduates, employers usually do not care about your GPA or your major for that matter. They care about your acceptance of an entry level position for an entry level salary to enter the adult lifestyle. Young Tashara, in your older days a rapper named Drake will tell you that you have to start from the bottom to get to that BMW. You’ll end up paying for six BMWs after Sallie Mae is done with you. Trust me, Young Tashara, you’ll be at the bottom for a while, but sooner or later, you’ll get there.
Your BFF probably won’t be your best friend forever: Do y’all remember the Cingular commercial where the little girl is texting someone and her mom asks who she is texting and she says, “Idk, my BFF, Jill!” Do you think that little Cingular girl is still friends with Jill? Probably not. I remember crying my eyes out the whole day of graduation because I thought I was going to die without my friends. Surprisingly, I made it! Young Tashara, there will be website on the internet called “Facebook.” You’ll be just fine. Plus, in your adult years it’s about quality and not quantity. Keep the friends who will tell you not to buy those American Eagle jeans. If they care about you, they’ll also care about your credit score.
Your paycheck will not be for your enjoyment: I will admit that I was spoiled as a child. I never worked a job during high school. I only had a part-time work study job in college. I didn’t look at the taxes. I didn’t pay bills. Now that I am adult, I want to know, WHERE IS MY MONEY?! What are these things called taxes? Who authorized this gross and net foolishness and why can’t I have the gross amount? Why do I have to pay for water, trash and electricity? You mean to tell me that these things aren’t free?! What is this life and who signed me up for it? Young Tashara, cherish all of your coins and save some. There will be rainy days and those days will be more frequent than you expect.
Here is a bonus for all of you Millenials out there who are lost in the sauce.
Life won’t go as you plan. Accept this and go with the constant change. This is the best advice than I can give to anyone young and old. I think that if I would have learned this at the tender age of 17, I would have avoided heartache and disappointment as a 20something navigating through the muck and mire of life. I admit that I am lost in the sauce, but at the end of the day, this isn’t a bad thing. 20something is young enough to make a few more mistakes and old enough to work towards making your teenage and 20something dreams come true. If I were to speak to 17 year old Tashara, I’d tell her to keep moving forward. I’d tell her to follow whatever course that life takes her. Of course, I’d also tell her to save some money and skip that American Eagle credit card. Most importantly, I’d tell her that her life is what she makes it. Forget the expectations that are put on you by others or by yourself. Toss everything that you learned in high school out of the window. Live in the moment, but plan for the future. Make some mistakes. Take some chances. Enjoy 20something because I hear that ish gets real at 30.