My mother asked me the other day how I felt about adulthood; I responded with a heartfelt, “It sucks.” I want to state that I am grateful for the things adulthood brings, freedom, experience, and fun. It is what comes along with those things that can make it suck, royally. The constant worry of money, the fact that I still live at home, and most importantly that even with my college degree I am currently unemployed.
When I was 18, I was so certain that by the time I was 26 I would be married, loving my fabulous job, and driving a BMW. Hilariously I have none of those things and my life is the exact opposite. I knew I was getting the Quarter Life Crisis when I found myself walking around constantly on the verge of an emotional blow-up. Anyone that knows me is aware I am not an outwardly emotional person. I rarely cry, I am typically very even keeled.
I began college in 2003 at the illustrious Howard University. I was immersed into a place that finally gave me the feeling of belonging. I spent my middle and high school surrounded with people that looked nothing like me and while I loved them, there was always this gaping hole of misunderstanding surrounding our friendships. Howard gave me the self-esteem boost I needed, it gave me the pride that I lacked, and instilled in me a power that cannot be taken away; but I got caught up in a whirlwind. I had spent all of my school years being the smart Black girl. At Howard, everyone is the smart black girl or guy, everyone was class president, everyone was a scholar and an athlete, what made me stand apart was my personality but it also had me forgetting my purpose.
I got through four years of school and was geared up for my last year, yes, I was a super senior. Five years of college, to which I must say isn’t so bad, sometimes people just need more time. But the summer before that fifth year, I met a man who I loved so much that I had become blinded and couldn’t see the finish line. Needless to say I then found myself, 23, a year’s worth of credits shy of my diploma, homeless, without financial aid, and on top of it all…pregnant. I returned to Los Angeles; sad, angry, forlorn, and confused.
On top of all of this though I am not a quitter, throughout my pregnancy I made list after list of how I was going to get back into school and finish what I started, some lists housed majestic plans of me riding back into DC ready to conquer Howard once and for all, but with a newborn baby those plans eventually became me finding a school in California that would take all 91 of my credits and give me my degree.
I fought to get into school, there were a couple that were too crowded or didn’t want to accept my credits but there was one that took me arms wide open. Being the old person in my classes was different; it gave me a new view on college. I began to see how much people take it for granted, the choice of whether go to class or not, to stumble in hungover, to sham on group projects. But when you have a greater responsibility on your shoulders it is interesting how your perspective changes.
Each day I went to class knowing that I had to finish in order to become the best for my daughter. By then I was engaged and had to call off the wedding because I knew I couldn’t walk down an aisle for the sake of appearances. Sure it was hard watching many of my friends graduate, some get their masters degrees, some become lawyers & doctors, and it has been difficult watching them all gallivant around the world on trips, while my days as a 26 year old consist of cartoons and homework.
The thing that I have learned through all of the tears and the trials is that I cannot compare. I cannot compare my life to another person’s because we all have our own story. Behind the smiles and Facebook albums there are stories that we aren’t all privy to. There are tribulations that everyone is facing. I have discovered that all it takes is a decision to not be in crisis. I conscious effort to acknowledge that everyone has had to start at the bottom and everyone has had some weight on their shoulders. All of us bear the weight of an issue, we can choose to let it become the gorilla on our backs or we can be like a duck and let it roll off. Many people have told me I should be proud of my accomplishments, it took me a while to agree.
All I kept seeing was failure. But I have decided to shift my paradigm into the positive realm and congratulate myself. I am 26, I am a mother, I am a college graduate, I am not a quitter but a fighter, I am confident that success is in the cards for me and I am determined to get it.
Leslie Robinson is a 26 year old mother to an adorable 3-yr old, she currently maintains and writes a style blog with her sister called, FlyyCoast2Coast. She enjoys a good laugh, being quotable, and can drink whiskey with the best of them. Follow her on Twitter: @Flyycoast2coast
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.