The internet is a great place to go if you need advice. With just a few clicks you can learn how to knit your own scarf or pay off that student loan without going completely broke. That being said, there is a void in the blogosphere. We have advice for teens and advice for those in their 20s, but there is nothing for those of us in between. I’m talking about a group I will call the “just-twenties”—kids who have just stepped over the boundary of 19-years-old and into the space marked “adulthood.”
In many cases, these kids are only adults in the legal sense. Take me, for example. I turned 20 in June of this year, but because I go to the University of Toronto (and am from the city), I still live at home and depend on my mom for most of my financial necessities. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my mother, and I love living rent- and (for the most part) expense-free, but so far this has been the most frustrating year of my life.
I don’t have enough money to do the things that I want to do, but I don’t have enough time to work more hours because of school—and I don’t really have enough freedom to do the things that I want to anyway. Shedding the “teen” suffix from my age has been hard for everyone; I want to be treated as an adult but don’t have the financial means to do so, and my mom still wants to control the reins as much as possible without seeming unreasonable. I never thought that I would find Britney Spears lyrics uplifting at the age of 20 (read: Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman), but here were are—and many of my friends find themselves in the same position. How can we assert ourselves without biting the hands that feed us? Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that question—but if you’re like me and want to show your parents that you aren’t the foolish teen you were six months ago, there are a few things you can do.
1) Get a job. This is probably the most important thing I can tell you to do. Financial independence is important if you want your parents to take you seriously. Once the money is trickling in, start taking care of your superficial expenses (clothes, fast food, etc.) and only rely on your parents for the big things. The less you have to spend your parents’ money, the more wiggle room you will have to do the things you want to do.
2) Talk it out. This is a time in your life when communication is key. If your parents are starting to grind your gears about something, try to tell them—with as little attitude as possible (something I fail at consistently)—that at this age, most things are your decision alone. Of course, this doesn’t apply to big things like staying in school, etc., but it will help you in day-to-day arguments.
3) Have patience. This is the most important virtue of all, young padawan. One day, you will be out of school and have a real job, but for now you’re stuck at home. Try to make the best of it and don’t let your parents make you completely crazy; after all, you would be up the creek without a paddle if you didn’t have their support. Try to remember that just as you are coping with becoming an adult, your parents are coping with the fact that their little baby is growing up.
4) Don’t take yourself too seriously. Try to remember that you aren’t fully independent yet (and that’s okay). I think part of what annoys parents so much is when their kids act like they are already out of the nest when they’re actually still occupying their childhood bedrooms. As Lena Dunham reminds us, “It’s not adult life if your parents pay for your Blackberry.”
So there you have it: my tips for surviving the pre-adult and post-teen existence. I’m in no way saying that I’m an expert; I spend most of my days in my room hiding from everyone that I live with. But I figured that this was something we needed to talk about (or, at least, something that I needed to talk about). Some day we will look back on these days and laugh… or at the very least miss the days when food appeared in the fridge without money disappearing from our wallets.