Over this past week, amid project due dates and grant applications, I was suddenly hit with the unsurprising but harsh realization that I am, in fact, a child. A baby, really. The worst part about this revelation is that it has arrived precisely during the time when I am expected to start settling into the prospect of living as an independent adult.
I am a 20-year-old Stanford student who grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco, with the privilege of a loving home environment and parents who had a stable income. We’re all smart kids at this school in one way or another. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a great deal and perhaps even gained the semblances of maturity and wisdom from my own small successes, intense failures and traumas.
However, in spite of any passed exams or completed essays that I may have excelled at throughout my time in high school and college, it has deeply and viscerally registered to me that, in this very moment, if I were to be thrown out past the heavenly gates of Palm Drive, stripped from the coddling arms of dining halls with cooked meals, out into the real world where I am expected to serve as a functioning member of civil society, I would find myself running circles in unhinged displays of panic like a beheaded chicken.
This first occurred to me when I began drafting resumes to send out to companies for summer internships. I didn’t have a clue what to put on it after my name in size-14 bold font. The panic settled in with a little more urgency when I was actually offered a position and realized that the next step in the process would be to locate and secure housing.
“Are you looking to find a sublease for a room or an entire apartment?” a friend asked when I begged for help.
“What is a sublease?” I responded. She stared, deadpan.
Oh, but that’s not all. There are plenty of holes in my vocabulary, stretches of vital information about the practical aspects of living in the fast-paced world around me that are not included in my 20-year-old repertoire.
What is a tax? How do I pay it? What do I do if I don’t have extensive elaborations on my views of politics to share at dinner parties, apart from the fact that women should be granted autonomy over their own bodies and racism, homophobia or really any kind of hatred is wrong? I don’t know how to cook anything aside from Mac-and-Cheese and various forms of microwaveable items, but even then, I get confused about how long to defrost before actually cooking.
Is there a class here on how to manage my personal finances? Or which clothes I’m not supposed to put in the dryer?
I am slowly but surely finding the answers to these things. Better late than never, I guess. Rather than complaining about it, I should roll up my sleeves and do some research.
But hey, at least in this moment, I can tell you about the references to communism in “Moby Dick.” I got an A on my paper about it.
Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’ stanford.edu.