We are a mere 22 days in to the new year and I am confident in saying that I will look back on 2017 as the year I became a responsible and functioning adult.
I am a 26-year-old — almost 27-year-old — woman and until this point, I haven’t felt like a real grown-up. Yes, I go to work each day at a job in a professional environment, I cook meals, I clean my house, I care for my pets, and I pay my bills (almost always on time). Despite all that, though, I still feel like I am a 16-year-old girl dreaming about how great her future will be.
I finally had my coming to Jesus moment late last year — sometime after I didn’t get the job at College of Charleston — and realized I will never get where I want to be if I do not decide exactly where that is. I will forever be living in this state of restlessness where nothing productive actually gets done.
I have officially reached the point in my 20s where I am past my quarter-life crisis and am ready and motivated to become an adult.
Here are the areas of my life that feel more adult-like with each passing day:
Who knew that there are folks out there who actually move a portion of their paychecks each month into a bank account that they never touch? Mind blown.
But really, though, when I think about how much money I have frivolously spent over the years — money that could have been put in a high-interest savings account — I am nauseous.
As I steadily approach my 30th year, I no longer have a desire to spend, spend, spend. I would rather save, save, save, and I am doing so by adopting the “pay yourself first” plan. As soon as that direct deposit drops every other week, the first thing I do is transfer X amount of dollars to savings. Therefore, I never miss it and I don’t risk spending it on things I do not need — such as a $44 eyeshadow palette or another dog.
Um, yeah, so I get married this year.
Justin and I have been together for nearly seven years and have established a home together, so it never occurred to me that gettin’ hitched would actually change how I see our relationship. As we get closer to our wedding, though, I am excited to no longer be his girlfriend and to become his wife; to officially make things official. Holy sh*t, I become a wife this year.
Planning this dang wedding has made me grow up more than I ever imagined — just from the aspect of reading and understanding contracts before I sign them, making decision after decision, and figuring out how this huge day will actually come together.
This monumental event also ties in with the saving money aspect of adulthood above. If we don’t save up our dollars for this shindig, it ain’t gonna happen.
Taking Care of my Body
When I was younger — between the ages of 15 and 19 — I was skinny. Like, I never weighed more than 110 pounds skinny. I could eat anything, and I did, and not gain one-pound. I never worked out or gave any thought to one day not having that body. Believe me, I am in no way bragging about that because after my mom passed away my metabolism changed and my slim and trim figure quickly rounded out.
Like many women my age, I have tried crash diets and fitness fads, but I quickly lose interest and go back to eating poorly and not maintaining my fitness plan.
This year is different, though. It is no longer about just wanting to lose weight; it is about the desire to take care of my body. I hope to become pregnant within the next year, so I need and want to be the healthiest version of myself for when that time comes. I am more motivated than ever to get to the gym each day and be mindful of what I consume.
Also, the fact that I have a wedding dress that I have to fit into is a powerful motivator.
Going Back to School
I am incredibly lucky in that I have a full-time job that provides me with an education benefit. I can take three undergraduate- or graduate-level classes a year free of charge. It would be foolish of me to not take advantage of that benefit because it basically means I can get a master’s degree for no cost out of my pocket.
For the last couple of years I have struggled with figuring out whether or not the occupation I am in is what I want to do for the rest of my days, and if it is not what I want to do, then what do I want to do?
I have finally decided on the profession that is right for me — a profession that leaves me feeling excited about the future when I think about it — and have begun taking the steps to make that dream possible. I am taking my first graduate-level class this semester and plan to apply to a master’s program in the summer for Fall 2017 — just in time for our September wedding.
Life is going to become busier than ever this year, so I have no time to waste.
Paying Down Credit Cards and Re-Building Credit
Compared to a lot of my peers, I actually do not have much credit card debt. But, I do have some and I badly want for it to be paid down or paid off this year in an attempt to raise my credit score.
I fault my parents and my public school education for not teaching me more about how credit works and how to maintain it. I remember growing up and my mom telling my brother and me, “You have three things in this world and if you lose any of them, you will work the rest of your life to get it back. You have your name, the trust of others, and your credit.”
Well, thanks mom, but what does that mean to a 16-year-old?
She was correct, though. I was around 21 when my credit started plummeting, and for the last few years I have worked incredibly hard to bring my score back up. It is not easy and it brings extra unnecessary stress to your life.
We HAVE to take care of it now because within the next year to year-and-a-half we want to buy our first home.
Looking at Buying a House
I am beginning to see a pattern here of one adult thing flowing into another; like it is all connected or something.
Yes, sometime after we marry, we want to put down roots and buy a home. For a long time — really since I moved to the Charlotte area four years ago — I have strongly opposed purchasing a house because I wasn’t committed to staying in this part of the state. Well, I have learned to love where I live and am ready to make my stay here a little more permanent.
While we aren’t ready to buy in the very near future, we still keep an eye on the housing market in our area to get an idea of what is available in our price range in the best school districts.
Until now, I never thought about the importance of buying a home in a good school district. We do not have children right now, but we will in the next couple of years and that child and future children will have to go to school. If we are buying a home, we will be in it for at least five years. Therefore, that house needs to be in an area that has good schools.
What an adult thing to say.
Starting a Family
And with that, we arrive at babies.
For as long as we have been together, we do not feel like we need to take time and “enjoy married life” before we start having children. Get real, people. We have lived together for almost five years, so that is one aspect of life that will not change after marriage.
We feel that family is the most important element of life, and we do not want to wait any longer to start our family together. Also, it hasn’t left our minds that, at the time we get married, Justin will be 29 and I will be 27. While that is not old, it is not exactly young, either. I do not want to be in my mid- to late-30s and still be having babies. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not what I want for myself.
As always, my hope is that by sharing my journey someone else can relate to my thoughts on life as a 20-something, and find comfort in knowing many of us share similar struggles and that we are not alone in this world.