This is a reader submission for our Big Girl Badge week. Tell us how you evolved from woman-child to woman, andÂ you could win hundreds of dollars of prizes!Â (Send your 800 word submissions to Jennifer [at] thegloss.com or Ashley [at] thegloss.com)Â
In college, I considered myself to be a strong, independent, responsible woman. I was someone who,Â for the most part, had her shit together. I worked 25 hours a week at my part-time job, maintained aÂ decent GPA, had all the house bills under my name, and lectured my friends on safe sex.
Thatâ€™s not say I didnâ€™t make my fair share of mistakes along the way. There was some minor credit cardÂ debt I incurred from bar tabs and shopping, some skipped classes that landed me in a conference withÂ my professor, and the couple times when as the campus library student supervisor, I missed opening theÂ doors promptly at 8 a.m. for reasons that will strictly stay between me and my next door neighbor. ForÂ the most part, though, Iâ€™d say I was pretty responsible. But I wasnâ€™t an adult yet.
I graduated college and entered the period of my life that I like to call my post-college flailing. My firstÂ stop was New York. Everyone told me not to do it. A 22-year-old from Kansas with only one connectionÂ in New York does not stand a chance. I quickly learned that on the east coast, a state school might as well be Shannen Dohertyâ€™s online college. To make matters worse, my internship at a childrenâ€™sÂ publishing company was not providing any opportunities, as much as they were cutting all positions theyÂ possibly could in a job market hit hard by the recession. I was forced to temp at a private equity firmÂ thatâ€™s now in the news for having a CEO who loves sex parties. It wasnâ€™t as exciting as it sounds.
Interview-less months went by, and I wallowed in my depression. Things only seemed to get worse. MyÂ roommate in New York announced she was pregnant (she clearly ignored my lectures on condoms) andÂ wanted to move in with her boyfriend. I missed my college boyfriend, Jake, who decided he hated NewÂ York. I became incredibly jealous of my best friend who graduated after me, yet immediately landed aÂ job at a newspaper in a small town. It didnâ€™t matter that I never missed paying the phone bill on time,Â that I went to the dentist every sixth months, or that I had a full-ride to college. I was a depressed officeÂ manager temp making $15 an hour and about to be out on the streets.
Things appeared to take a turn for the better after Jake offered to move me wherever I could get aÂ job after he finished his graduate work in the spring. I applied for positions all over the country, andÂ we ended up in Phoenix. Leaving New York was hard, but I consoled myself by repeating, â€śLife is a journey!â€ť We bought two cars. We got engaged. We bought a house in the suburbs. I started goingÂ back to school for my masterâ€™s degree. In every way, I appeared to be a grown-up.
Then on a visit home, as I sat with my parents at an Outback Steakhouse before I left to go back to Phoenix, I felt my face get hot and the room began to spin. I couldnâ€™t breathe. I excused myself to the bathroom, and began to cry. When I mentally refused to admit that I was unhappy, my body physicallyÂ did it for me with a panic attack.
If my life was a journey, I certainly wasnâ€™t driving. I had taken a job filled with monotonous tasksÂ because I couldnâ€™t handle the subjective criticism that comes with being a writer. I had bought a houseÂ because that seemed to be the logical step after you get engaged. I had gotten engaged because thatâ€™s what youâ€™re supposed to do youâ€™ve been with someone for four years. And if I really forced myself toÂ admit it, I had stayed in my relationship because it seemed too much of a hassle to deal with the falloutÂ of breaking up with my fiancĂ©.
I wasnâ€™t independent, and I definitely wasnâ€™t an adult. I had simply taken the easiest route possible inÂ every aspect of my life. I had become a diluted version of myself, satisfied with â€śgood enoughâ€ť onlyÂ because it meant I would never be challenged.
Looking back, itâ€™s easy to see that I never was responsible in college, as much as I was lucky. I breezedÂ through school because I rarely had to push myself. I was financially set because I had a full scholarship.Â I met my conventional ideas of success because I had limited experience. In short, I was a big girl onlyÂ because I had no big girl responsibilities or desires.
After my little epiphany at Outback, I slowly began to make decisions and stopped living life passively.Â I chose to leave my fiancĂ©. I chose to sell my house and leave Phoenix. I started at ground zero andÂ began reevaluating every post-college move I had made.
Since then, my life hasnâ€™t been the easiest. Thank God. Thatâ€™s how I know Iâ€™m actually living.