As a kid, I dreamed of being an adult. I imagined staying up late, eating bowls of chocolate ice cream (with rainbow sprinkles) in my beanie baby infested room, and watching television until the sun came up. I suppose most kids have these thoughts about adulthood- blissfully ignorant of what it means to make a living for yourself, pay bills, and handle personal and household responsibilities.
While I’ve technically been an adult for nine years, I often feel like my journey into adulthood is just beginning. Simply put, this stuff is hard. It seems there’s a new hurdle around every corner, and while I pride myself on being able to clear many of them, it’s not without a few spills.
Most recently, my adult struggles involve making peace with past financial decisions. Family and friends, please forgive me for telling this story for the thousandth time, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you the abridged version.
I was the first in my family to go to a four-year-college. Because my family was unable to finance my education, and we did not qualify for much financial aid, I took out several hefty private educational loans to cover the cost of my private, undergraduate education. At the tender, ignorant age of 18, I had no idea what signing those loan forms meant. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I immediately went on to earn my master’s degree (this time, I did qualify for some financial aid, but still managed to rack up some student loan debt). When it was all said and done, my student loan debt equaled the amount of a middle-class house in the ‘burbs.
I went on to snag a job, one that paid well, but not great (those in the “helping” field usually aren’t the most generously compensated). Soon after, my husband and I went on to have a child, and buy a few vehicles we probably shouldn’t have. At the time, our thinking was, “We work hard, so we deserve it!” Oh, to be young…and dumb.
Fast forward to the present. My family and I relocated to our home state, and are expecting our second child. We moved with only one of us having secured a job (my husband). Things are extremely tight, but we’re doing okay, thankfully.
Since the move, I’ve questioned and beaten myself up about countless things, for example:
“Why did you take out all those educational loans?”
“You should have gone to community college. Why didn’t you?”
“Why didn’t you buy a car you could afford? Financing that car was such a mistake.”
“If you’d budgeted over the last few years, you’d probably own a home now.”
“Why didn’t you do more math before you decided to have children? They are expensive, you know!”
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
It is incredibly easy for me to sink into that angsty, “nobody understands me,” “I can’t do anything right,” mindset.
My natural tendency is to become somewhat “woe is me” about the sticky situations I find myself in, but for the first time, I’m acknowledging that I put myself there…, or here. I took out those educational loans, I bought that car, I decided to have children. Nobody held me down and forced me to do any of those things. It’s not my parent’s fault. It’s not my husband’s fault. It’s my fault.
At times, I’ve thought, “Well, you didn’t know what it would be like to pay back all those loans,” so it’s okay to feel the way you do. What I’ve learned, though, is that when you’re an adult, ignorance doesn’t excuse you from the fall-out of your actions.
I know this post isn’t “mom-related,” per se, but it’s human related, and I think, relevant. We have all made decisions, or acted in ways we wished we hadn’t. Some of you may beat yourself up about these things; maybe some of you don’t. It seems the adult thing to do in these situations is acknowledge our culpability, do whatever we can to ameliorate the situation, and move on (having learned something, hopefully).
Some may question why I choose to be so open about my challenges. To this, all I can say is- it makes me feel better. Putting my thoughts and struggles on paper, or Word document, rather, gives me relief I can’t get anywhere else..not to mention the fact that had I spoken the words of this post, it wouldn’t have sounded nearly as put together.
So, this is me, trying to do the adult thing, owning up, and letting go of my past mistakes.