Demi Lawrence is a junior journalism news major and writes "Unspoken" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Demi at email@example.com.
This summer, I decided to go into the great unknown.
I rented a house for the 2018-19 school year, and instead of moving home to Fishers, Indiana for the 2019 summer and moving back to Muncie for the 2019-20 school year, I decided to stay in this house with two other roommates.
It was my first summer alone being a real adult. Paying for my own groceries, cleaning my own house, filling up my own gas tank. And not to mention, living in a place other than the bubble-like town I’d grown up.
This summer, I decided to go into the great unknown, and in all honesty, it sucked. But I learned more than ever that it is the small, redeeming moments you have to latch onto to make the mundane, everyday moments seem a little more worth it.
Black dress pants, a black button up and an alfredo-stained apron is what I spent most of my summer in. I bussed tables at Muncie’s Olive Garden as my primary job, then two days a week I worked 8-hour-long shifts at a shoe store in the Muncie Mall. Working two jobs is something I never thought I’d have to do to make ends meet, and these were my first two food and retail jobs ever.
These two jobs made me realize how privileged I grew up. I made $12 an hour last summer doing absolutely nothing in an office job. I was living beyond comfortably in my dad’s home, only having to spend money on gas to get me to my job.
This summer, I made minimum wage at one job and around $12 an hour at another, but had to work harder at it than any other job I’ve ever had.
Many nights this summer I came home from work, most of the time smelling like garlic and pesto, and thought about what my life would be had I lived in Fishers. Even if I was doing the same two jobs, I would probably make twice as much because of how much better off economically Fishers is than Muncie.
But money wasn’t the only issue, it was also knowing if I lived at home I’d get to spend more time with my dad and my boyfriend who live there.
My dad is my best friend, and I know I have to grow up eventually and move out and begin my own life, but if I had it my way I’d live with him forever. He was happy I was taking this leap of faith to become a real, functioning adult, but I know it hurt him to not have me around.
I was also haunted every day with the reality that had I chosen to live in Fishers, I’d be five minutes down the road from my boyfriend. Now I am an easy 45-minute-drive on a crappy, construction-ridden interstate.
Though we made it work and stayed strong, so many nights I’d lay awake this summer resenting myself for the decision I had made. I was alone in my bed without another body to keep me company because I wanted to be a grown up so bad.
It seemed like it was my fault and no one else's’ that I was lonely and anxious every day. I developed a general anxiety this summer that squawked like an annoying parrot on my shoulder daily. It would say “Are you sure?” and “You can’t handle this,” and even “You failed.”
Even the one thing I thought I was going to be able to hold onto this summer, my college friends living just down the street from me, quickly became a far away wish.
We all were busy; I was working upwards of 35 hours a week, they were also working, taking summer classes and our schedules never matched up. It felt like every time we hung out I was trying to quickly catch them up on everything so we could go back to just being friends who hung out all the time, not distant strangers you have to poke a stick at every so often to wake up.
And I am in no way blaming them or even myself, we all decided on our own to grow up this summer and live away from home, but the fact that my one solace was just a wish upon a star every two weeks or so tore me apart.
Everyone always wishes for summer, I was one of those people. But I was busier, more stressed and lonelier this summer than I ever had been while school was in. It was a rude awakening.
But like I said, this summer taught me to appreciate the little moments.
Indianapolis International Airport is strangely busy at 12:30 a.m. Yet there I was standing, waiting on my best friend to get off her plane after a full 24 hours of traveling. She came through the terminal in her Winnie the Pooh jumper, and I set out for a sprint without even telling my legs what to do. The tears came as I tackled her to the ground, and I pulled away to look into her eyes.
Meeting my best friend for the first time ever in person was one huge, amazing and special moment that amounted to a thousand little moments all in one.
The week she was with me made all the exhaustion of being on my own worth it. With my own place, we could do whatever we wanted without having to ask my dad. Had I lived at home with my dad this summer, her stay in America would have been much different.
Though this summer brought a medley of pain, I became so much more independent; when I was lost, worried, anxious and afraid I picked myself up.
I made my own decisions to eat healthier and save money at the grocery.
It was my gas to fill into my tank.
It was my decision to drive to Fishers last minute to see my boyfriend after work, and it was the pride I had that I was doing this dreadful thing called “adulting” not too badly.
Would my life have been easier had I lived in Fishers this summer? Yes. I would have made more money, been around my family and my boyfriend and lived in comfort.
This summer I lived in a house that I struggled to make feel like home. I worked two jobs and barely made ends meet. I cried at night because my tiny twin bed still felt too big for there to just be me in it. My heart broke with every “Sorry I can’t” text from my friends because I knew they couldn’t help having lives too.
But it taught me that this life is not always a luxury, and this life is meant to beat you down only to build you back up.
Sometimes it takes the little things to make you see the bigger picture. Sometimes it takes a week off of work with your best friend from London to make you see that life has some semblance of beauty in it.
Other times it takes a weekend getaway with your boyfriend to make you see that love knows no boundaries or distance, and love exists in a crack of a baseball bat at Great American Ballpark and in the first bite of a far too expensive steak in Cincinnati, Ohio.
There are even times it takes just a cheap dinner out with your dad to make you feel safe and okay.
Adulting isn’t about how much you make, or where you live or how many hours you work. It’s about the moments that make all those mundane things worth it.
I had more hard moments than good ones, but it’s about quality not quantity.
As this summer comes to a close and I begin to plan my last half of college, I can definitely say I became an adult this summer and I am proud of myself for all I have done. After all the sweat, tears and garlic-clogged pores after a dinner shift, this summer was a gift.
But I am definitely ready to be back at the frats and distracted by class work again. Adulting sucks.