(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.)
I, like so many others before me, am guilty of choosing my post-graduate home because of a boy.
My boyfriend has two years left of pharmacy school, so I planned to move to the city his university is in so we could finally stop doing the long-distance thing when he went back in the fall.
However, I didn’t expect to get a job immediately after school was over, so I’ve been living in a strange city by myself with no friends for the past two months.
FROM COW PLOPS TO POTHOLES
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where the most threatening thing you’ll face in a day are gigantic cow plops and traffic jams caused by slow-moving Amish buggies. This is the first time I have ever truly lived alone, and I just happened to get stuck with a city that has been declared safer than only 15% of cities in America.
There are at least nine known members of gangs living within a three-mile radius of my apartment, and a convicted rapist lives one street over. Murders and burglary are considered commonplace events.
I am stricken with anxiety every time I unlock the deadbolt on my front door. I have to play loud music to avoid freaking out each time I hear a noise.
I’m afraid to leave my bedroom at night, and I keep a wooden light saber that my boyfriend made me next to my bed in lieu of a baseball bat or gun.
It’s not much better when I’m out driving, either. The roads in my town are among the worst in Pennsylvania, and I have near-death experiences just about every day thanks to other motorists who seem bent on destroying me.
Friends, when you graduate and move away, you will come back to your parent’s house and peek in the room you grew up in only to see that it’s likely been converted into an office, spare bedroom, or even a library. It’s almost as if you had never been there at all.
You realize that you don’t belong there anymore, and if, like me, your new apartment doesn’t feel like home to you, you feel strangely homeless.
STRANGELY HOMELESS, BUT STILL PAYING RENT
Without a doubt, the source of the most anxiety in your life will stem from your financial state.
If you get stuck with a crappy, entry-level job like me, you will barely be able to afford all the newfound expenses that come with being an adult — rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries and so much more.
God forbid something breaks. I barely even use my air conditioner for fear of running up the electricity bill.
And sure, you’ll be making more than you did at your old minimum-wage job. But you might even have less left over after you’re done giving it to everyone else. It’s barely enough to support yourself.
Speaking of being financially independent, imagine for a moment that you’re trapped in this low-income spiral, and suddenly you find out you’re pregnant. If this job is barely enough to support you, how could you ever take care of a child?
The idea of that alone is enough to inspire enough anxiety to make me practice alternate-nostril breathing to calm the crap down.
Although I’m not pregnant (I swear, Dad), I will also be somewhat financially responsible for taking care of my boyfriend when he moves in with me next month. This means buying enough groceries for two and paying for increased water and trash bills.
My dreams of becoming a Pinterest chef will have to be put on the back burner that’s not taken up by a boiling pot of Ramen noodles.
Photo: 401k 2013 (Flickr)
Kim Dreese is a recent graduate of Lycoming College, where she foolishly majored in Creative Writing and minored in Psychology and Media Writing. Her newest hobbies include blogging and complaining about being an adult. She works at a small advertising firm in Wilkes-Barre, PA. You can follow her daily rants on Twitter at @lyco13.