Another Step Forward

I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my plane. It feels like every other summer for the past four years, except that this time I’m not going back to school. I’m not going back to classes, to homework, to late nights at the newspaper. Instead I’m getting on a plane that will take me halfway around the world to a place I’ve never been before.

When I graduated from college in May it felt like the end of another school year. I was burnt out, tired, ready to take a break. After a few months of no school, I’d be ready to head back into the fray.

I’ve left home many times before — going to college for the first time, studying abroad, transferring schools, and every school break in between. This time should be no different. I’m leaving home for a few months, maybe more. I’ll be back, I know I will.

But this time it’s different. This time there’s a finality to my leaving because I know returning home will never be the same. I’ll never really live in the house I grew up in again. When I return — if I don’t fall for a Kiwi sheepherder as my dad fears — it will be to pack up my room and move somewhere else.

I am now an adult. I’ve technically been an adult since I turned 18, but now that I’ve graduated it feels official. There’s a subtle and not-so-subtle shift that changes everything.

It’s scary, this whole growing up thing.

Part of my nervousness resides in the fact that I’m doing something different than most of my peers. I’m not going to grad school, I’m not starting in an entry-level job. I’m moving to another country where I’ll probably waitress for minimum wage and live in a house with six other people.

Is that okay?

When I really think about it, it is okay. I have moments of worry, moments of panic, but they pass. Excitement about the future, about the people I’ll meet and the experiences I’ll have drown them out. Yes, I am sure I will struggle financially, mentally, physically; with my writing, my roommates, my parents, the world. And yes, I’ll have moments where I’ll want to give up. I know this, and I’ve accepted that they will come to pass.

I think in accepting that this journey will not be perfect I’ve become an adult. Or, what might pass as an adult as long as no one looks too closely for too long.

It really is scary heading out into the world, but I wouldn’t be about to get on a plane to Auckland if I wasn’t ready on some level. If worse comes to worse, I can return home to my parents and let my mom do my laundry for a little bit longer while I work on my next great adventure.

Maybe one day I’ll reach proper “adulthood,” whatever that entails. Or maybe not.

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