I moved out of my parents’ house last January after my college graduation in December. I didn’t write much in 2015 (sorry, 14-year-old self), but you’ll remember this post about my breakdown in Walmart, and perhaps this post from September, where I offered a glimpse into what the hell I’d been up to.
I’ve been busy. And, as my ex boyfriend’s dad told me in November, “This has been quite a year for you.”
He’s right. But he doesn’t know the half of it.
Here are 15 things I learned in 2015 as a first-time, real-life, full-fledged, compound-modifier-loving adult.
I realize that we’re almost into February, but hey, better late than never.
1.) That beeping sound your carbon monoxide detector is making? Take it seriously.
You’re not in your father’s house anymore, meaning the detector probably doesn’t just need new batteries.
2.) Enjoying a week’s vacation and getting paid for it is one of life’s most wonderful things.
Especially when you’re cavorting around Europe and haven’t a care in the world.
3.) Beware of Friday the 13th
While I watched snow float to the ground on Friday, Nov. 13, and marveled at the world’s silence, my parents were having the worst night of their lives. It involved a vehicle and an overexcited yellow lab puppy. I’ll never forget my father’s voice wavering on the phone and hearing his sobs.
We managed to surprise him over Thanksgiving with another little bundle of love that is growing by the minute, chewing sneakers, and having accidents in the house.
We know he loves her.
4.) Things from college can come back to haunt you.
Someday I’ll talk about this.
5.) Your heroes and mentors are capable of disappointing you.
But that disappointment only makes you stronger.
6.) Your alcohol tolerance level will drop once you’re done with college. Be careful when you drink double IPAs at work events.
I swear I’ve never acted like a complete imbecile, but I do take advantage of the free drink when I can get it.
7.) That/those relationship(s) you had in college? They might not make it. And that’s perfectly okay.
Moving on while the other stays behind only works in a relationship when you really really want it to. If you can’t picture yourself going to college parties and waking up hungover in a beer-soaked house nearly a year after you’ve graduated, you’ve moved on in more ways than one.
8.) The importance of hobbies.
They teach you this in high school, but they don’t in college. I started taking guitar lessons. In fact, I have one in a couple days. I need to start practicing.
9.) The definition of insanity.
Every boyfriend I’ve ever had has been, like me, the youngest child in the family. I dated the same people over and over again and each time I expected things to be different.
This time is different. His name is Nick. He’s 23. He has a younger sister (six years my junior). He’s an engineer. We think differently; we do different things; we have different hobbies… and yet it just works. I poke fun at him like the little sister I’ve always been. He teases me and drives me crazy. It’s perfect.
10.) Love is love.
I’ll never forget it when my ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s mother (confusing, I know, and the reason I met her is a long, stupid story), said something like “I can’t believe they allow that in the army. I’m Catholic and I just don’t agree with it” to me as she shook my hand back in 2013. She was referring to a graduate from a neighboring college’s Army ROTC program who’d been announced at the 2013 military ball with her wife. Her wife.
I remember smiling uncontrollably when they’d be announced. She must have scowled.
When my ex and I walked away from her, I turned to him and said, “Seriously? This is the family you chose?”
I’m proud of myself for saying that to him. And I’m proud of my parents for instilling an indifference in our family toward sexual orientation so that I can enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones without being worried about which gender they enjoy sleeping with. Because, guess what? It doesn’t fucking matter.
11.) You’ll never forget your first car.
My 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle, fondly referred to as “Bubbles,” popped in October when the mechanic listed the repairs she needed in order to pass inspection. Because it wasn’t practical to keep her, I traded her in for a little black Hyundai Elantra GT. Her name is Pippa.
And yes, I cried when Bubbles was lifted onto the flatbed and sobbed even harder when she disappeared around the corner. Then I got in my new car, pushed the START/STOP engine button, opened the panoramic sunroof, hooked my work phone up to the car’s bluetooth for music, used the backup camera to back out of my spot and drove on with my life.
12.) Take risks. Take risks. Take risks.
Kiss the guy who keeps looking at you from across the room at the party.
Book that plane ticket and travel to Europe by yourself.
Make the speech that people will remember.
As Marilyn Monroe said, “I’d rather be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
13.) You’ll have bad days at work where you want to tear your hair out, but the good days make it all worth it.
Eh. Not much more to blow out on this one.
14.) Write letters and thank-you notes. Send a gift to someone randomly.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about living on my own, it’s that receiving mail that isn’t a bill usually makes my entire day. I sent a few Christmas cards over the holidays, wrote a few letters to some pen pals that I’d been neglecting, and sent my brother Adam a few “housewarming” gifts when he moved into his apartment back in the fall. I know it makes me feel good, why not spread the love?
15.) To be a generic twentysomething, travel and do fun stuff.
Winery visits on a Saturday morning? YES! Taking a class at the Culinary Institute of America? Sign me up! A weekend trip to Ocean City, Maryland? Sounds like a blast! While making my student loan payments and rent are priorities, I’ve learned to stop blanching at the price tags attached to experiences.