Not too long ago my five-year-old cousin asked me, “Cathryn, are you a grown-up?” Instinctively, I responded, “Nope!” He seemed confused, but then continued, “Well when are you going to be a grown up?” This kid must have been sensing my pre-quarter-life crisis coming on. “Umm, not for a few years,” I responded. We then resumed our intense action figure battle between the Hulk and the Ninja Turtles (Ninja Turtles won, go figure).
Yes, I am technically an adult. I recently turned 23 and have been out of college for over a year (wince). That means when I started school way back in 2010 I had a sliding phone that didn’t have access to the internet. No one used Snapchat or Instagram and people were just getting the hang of Twitter. What the heck was an Uber? Dinosaur ages, I know.
For better or for worse, I am obsessed with reminiscing. For some reason I enjoy looking back at what I used to say, how my views on life have changed and how badly I styled my hair. I remember my 18th birthday vividly. I felt very, I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!-esque. I was finally the adult who I always felt I was meant to be! As a teen people often commented that I looked and acted “so mature.” So how did I end up with Benjamin Button syndrome? Why can’t I own up to being an adult now and why don’t I feel like one?
It seems as though the longer you live the more you realize how little you know. This past year has been humbling. Relocating to New York seemed like an extremely bold and inspirational move until I realized almost all of the 8.5 million people in the city did the same exact thing and probably overcame more obstacles along the way. The city also has a way of humbling you when you get on the subway and sit between a Wall Street exec and someone asking for change. I call the MTA “The Great Equalizer.” We’re all riding through the trenches of (what’s probably) NYC sewage with the rats and garbage so there’s no room for ego.
So it turns out I’m not as mature and wise as I had originally thought. Nonetheless, I’m coming into this 23rd year with a few notes to the younger versions of myself. Just in the case someone can also resonate with young C-Dub (true story: firstname.lastname@example.org was my first email address).
Setting: Sophomore in high school who recently moved to Texas and knows no one. Shy and discouraged, she’s very confused as to why she has such a hard time making new friends. Missing her old friends in South Carolina, she frequently goes over her cell phone minute limit (but shoutout to T-Mobile’s Fave 5 plan for not putting me in complete cell phone debt!). She recently learned how to add falling stars on her MySpace page, so things are looking up. Her profile song is Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” and her profile pic was taken on her hot pink Motorola Razr….originality is at an all-time low.
- This loneliness doesn’t last forever. You will outgrow your fear of being alone and make friends. Embrace this season, you’re here for a reason. Rather than mourn all the friends you “lost,” gear your energies towards joining clubs/activities and making new ones!
- Please cut back on the mirror selfies!
- Life is good! If you have a roof over your head with a loving family underneath, count your blessings. You may not realize it but not everyone has a stable home. Hug and thank your parents more.
- Follow your gut and ditch any unsupportive friends. You don’t need their judgements or bad energies. Looking back, it’s clear to see that their negative comments are just projections of their own insecurities. Word of advice: confident people don’t pick others apart.
- Don’t attempt that backflip without stretching! Your tendons and limbs are not made of rubber bands!
To 18 year old Cathryn
Setting: Freshman in college where she loves being surrounded by peers, learning new subjects and most of all, becoming a journalist. She learns that she has a knack for holding conversations with individuals one-on-one and finds it truly rewarding to share their stories. The voice that people used to tease her about is now working in her advantage!
- Heating up frozen food doesn’t count as cooking.
- Don’t let praise get to your head or failure hurt your heart. Know yourself so well that no matter what other people say or do you won’t lose your spirit. You are not equivalent to a bad grade or someone’s negative comments. You are also not equivalent to other people’s compliments and words of praise. Some people’s opinions of you will fluctuate. Your sense of self worth should never fluctuate with them.
- Keep those positive words of encouragement posted around your (itty bitty) dorm room.
- Maybe you shouldn’t post that on Facebook.
- Feeling scared can be a good thing. It means you’re headed toward something new and possibly improved, so embrace it. As Nelson Mandela stated, “It’s always impossible until it’s done.” Many people will tell you your goals are unrealistic or that you’re expecting too much. Spoiler: you get the last laugh.
To 22 year old Cathryn
Setting: CBCF intern in Washington D.C. working on The Hill. She’s grateful to be in a professional setting surrounded by strong and supportive women but also scared that she still can’t envision her future. She’s confused as to where her passions lie and feels as though there are almost too many options to choose from. The pressure to live up to others’ expectations is overwhelming.
- You don’t know where you’ll be in six months but try to enjoy this time of uncertainty. You’re in Washington surrounded by amazing people who want to see you succeed. That alone is rare; enjoy it. It’s hard for you to feel so “out of control,” but use this time to practice letting go.
- One of the hardest parts about transitioning from school to the professional world for you is the lack of mobility. You’re used to running around campus as a reporter all day and it’s very difficult being refined to one room for the majority of the day. You are not a robot. Allow time to shamelessly refuel mentally and physically in the middle of the work day. Take breaks, go on walks and get your blood pumping.
- Your mom and dad will not be disappointed if you choose happiness over immediate security. In fact, they are much more encouraging than you expect. So go for it.