As a young child, I remember being so excited to grow up. I can recall looking to my grandmother and telling her all about what I wanted to do when I finally became an adult. Looking forward to the day I would finally get to escape the small town I’d grown up in. I spent lots of time fantasizing about glorious houses with giant pools, luxurious cars with all the fancy add-ons, private chefs to create all my meals, and of course, a magnificent vacation home in the Bahamas. Up to a point, I had always pictured adulthood as a free-for-all. I created an imaginary place where everyone had unlimited options, tons of second chances, and never ending opportunities to follow your dreams. It seems like I blinked twice and suddenly I was eighteen years old. In my perspective, I was officially an adult since I was no longer in high school. I was a persistent young adult who was very eager to become more independent. My grandmother always told me, “slow down liss, life already moves fast enough”, if it wasn’t for her guidance I never would’ve realized adulting had so much behind.
Soon after graduating high school, I chose to move to Rancho Cucamonga to live with my grandmother, whom was also one my closest friends. At the time she was living by herself in a cute two bedroom apartment right down the street from the community college I would soon be attending. I had pictured moving in with my grandmother as an opportunity to blossom outside of the small town I originated in. This was my new home, and the place that would allow me to flourish. My first step as a new adult was to register for college and begin looking for my first job. I sat down at the dining room table beside my grandmother and we began to talk about my future and where I hoped my education would take me. What I had expected was to only spend a short amount of time at this school and work a part-time job doing anything but fast-food. I aspired to move quickly and transfer out to a bigger four-year university. From there I was unsure, I didn’t officially know what to do with my life. I had never thought about paying bills of my own or expenses that come along with attending college or life in general.
My grandmother reassured me that school isn’t free reminding me that someone has to pay for it. I grew up in a middle class household, but my parents payed out most of what they make in bills. I always believed that because we had a lot of nice things that we also had a lot of money. Truth be told that isn’t how things actually work and most people truly work to live. After our discussion I learned about the FASFA application. I submitted my application and patiently waited for a response. I discovered that I wasn’t eligible at the time for financial aid, but I wasn’t going to stop there. We thoroughly discussed the options that I actually have vs. the options I wish I could have. This truly helped to bring an insight of reality to my young adult self. My grandmother offered to pay for my first semester of college but reminded me that I would need to find a way to pay for the next semester if I wanted to continue afterwards. She reminisced of when she was in college at the University of Lincoln, Nebraska and upheld working two jobs so that she could receive a bachelor’s degree. My grandmother also reminded me that it was less expensive back then, and the cost of living in California is much higher as well. Taking all of this into consideration, I was determined to find a job nearby so I could contribute to my own education.
A few weeks after beginning my first semester, I started working for a catering company named One Hot Dish based out of Eastvale, CA. My favorite part of having a job was that I only had to work one or two days a week and it paid really well in my young adult perspective. I had enough money to pay for my own gas, food, and I could even go shopping if I wanted to. All that was significant to me was that I made the money by working hard myself. My grandmother continuously repeated that I needed to save my money for more important things and explained how imperative a savings account is for hard times or emergencies. She was so right. I was lucky enough to receive a well maintained car when I got my license at age sixteen. My parents had covered all my expenses beforehand, but now it was time I started taking responsibility into my own hands. The first bill I ever paid for was the registration on my car and it was $231. I momentarily realized that being an adult meant big adult dollar signs. As sad as it was to see that amount disappear from my bank account, I knew I was taking big girl steps.
The next essential lesson my grandmother really wanted me to learn was the importance of credit. We conversed about all the things that can hurt your credit and what kind of things require good credit to obtain. She recapped my childhood daydreams that included fabulous houses located at beachfront, and also reminded me that they cost millions of adult dollars and require lots of hard work to obtain. Soon after that, I signed up for my first credit card with Capital One just like she has with aspiration of beginning to build my credit. The most important tip I acknowledged was every time you swipe that credit card you’re promising to pay it back. I also learned that maxing out your credit card not only damages your establishing credit but it becomes more difficult to pay the entire amount down due to accruing interest. Nobody said anything about that in high school. I used to tell my grandmother, “play now, pay later” as a joke. Until the debit continuously increases and it isn’t funny anymore. Through lots of trial and error, I have successfully learned how to use a credit card as a resource rather than a plastic toy.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve had the opportunity to learn is the importance of time. My grandmother would tell me, “Time is one thing that passes the fastest, and you’ll never get it back not even an extra second”. Looking back on the last few years of adulthood, if you had the option, would you spend your time differently? I sure would. I could’ve spent my time making wiser decisions like not partying on school nights, saving more money, not maxing out credit cards and paying closer attention to school so it’s easier to get the grades you want. Instead, I look back thinking I spent my time learning to become something. Rather than focusing on what I would have done differently, I chose to focus my attention on what I would like to become as an adult. My grandmother stimulated my motivation by reminding me to use my own past mistakes and accomplishments as resources for your own future. Establishing importance for time is significant to me, because nobody desires to work a lifetime to become successful at the end.
I have been daydreaming about the day I would leave this small secluded town since I was old enough to know there was something better out there. From my young child perspective, being an adult sounded like so much fun. I just couldn’t wait to finally grow up. I would finally get to wear makeup, prettier clothes, high heels, and even drive a car! At the time I thought who wouldn’t want to be an adult? With the assistance and guidance of my grandmother, I’ve learned vital details that are encompassed in adulthood. I still have a lot to learn as I grow and make my way through adulthood. The imaginary place I once dreamed of as a young child full of luxurious 8 bedroom houses, extravagant cars with all the extra add-ons and never-ending walk-in closets now had million dollar price tags all over it. In fact, I have a new daydream for my adulthood that includes working on great credit, a beautiful house that I can afford, good grades in school, and a happy, healthy family.
I blinked again and now I’m twenty-one. In conclusion, I may be starting school all over again, but this time I have more value for my education and cherish my time that is spent. Maybe now I can say I’ve learned how to adult.