My plans for the summer?
As a 24-year-old graduate student, with a graduate assistant position and a summer graduate class, is this what adulting is?
No summer vacation? No time off? Just school and work, and more work.
I am a graduate assistant with the office of Residence Life at the University of Dubuque. The semester ended in April, and students checked out to return home for the summer. However, there is work to be done. For June, my plans involve office hours and homework.
My graduate assistant contract ends on June 30, and I will not be returning to residence life next school year. This also means after June 30, I will no longer be living on campus. I am looking for a new job and apartment.
Adulting is stressful. The real world is scary. After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2021, I had no idea what I would be doing next. I took a year off school trying to figure it out — working odd jobs trying to find one that fit, and sharing an apartment with my cousin as a roommate.
After my undergraduate studies, I was afraid to grow up, to leave school, leave campus and to take on responsibilities I had never taken on before. It was intimidating.
So, what did I do? I went back to school to get another degree, of course.
My master’s degree is a two-year program. I thought I would hold my graduate assistant position for the entire two years, but life happens.
Now, in a month’s time, I am faced with choices again — choices that bring fear and uncertainty.
Will I be ready to move off campus, find a job worthy of me and my talents, finish my year of school and to be an adult?
I struggle with anxiety, and sometimes, it can be quite crippling. I overthink the possibilities of what comes next. I am a planner who hates surprises. I have had to learn that life does not follow anyone’s plans. There is no way to know what will happen next.
Adulting is trying to be prepared for anything, while knowing nothing. The things you think you know, you have no idea. Life changes on a dime. There is no rule book for growing up, though if I had to write one, the first rule would be, “don’t be afraid.”
Life happens to everyone. No one knows what they are doing. Do not be afraid of growth. Do not be afraid of change. Do not be afraid to try.
My second rule for adulting would be, “don’t forget.” Growing in responsibilities can be stressful. I do not want to forget to have fun. Do not forget to enjoy the little things. Do not forget that work is not everything.
Before you know it, time shifts from school years and semesters and summer vacations to everyday work and priorities.
Do not be afraid of growing up, but also, do not forget that grown-ups deserve to have fun, too. We deserve vacations, snacks, naps and all the little things that make all the work worth it.
I am learning to start taking my advice. Life can be so intimidating, and my anxiety can be so challenging. What is the worst that can happen? Will I get spooked and go back to school for another degree?
I guess we will see.
Rasharra Smith is a graduate student at the University of Dubuque.