The transition-to-adulthood summer

This summer’s been a little different than any other. The past three months haven’t been about sleeping in, going to the pool, perfecting my tan and going out with friends. Don’t get me wrong; I did manage to do some of that, but I was focused on other things.

I really felt like an adult. Working two magazine internships kept me getting up before 7 a.m. and returning after 5 p.m. My job as a restaurant hostess four nights a week kept my weekends full, too. That didn’t leave much time for lunches, movies and pool days, and I was usually ready to head to bed by 10:30 each night, making fun of my new-found old lady ways.

Now at the end of the summer, I can see that it’s also the first time I’m not dreading going back to school. In fact, I’m very excited. Beyond the stress of packing, last-minute errands and saying goodbye to family and friends, I’m pumped to get back to college – the campus, the people, the sports, the atmosphere.

That said, I don’t regret this summer at all; in fact, it’s been really great. I’ve accumulated a stack of clips from respected magazines. I’ve made some good contacts with people in the industry. I’ve gotten a little closer to figuring out exactly what I want to do with my life. I’ve climbed one notch higher on the ladder to my future.

I’ve also gained other things, like money saved up through having no time to spend it, confidence in my ability to handle traffic, construction and changing routes (even if I do need to call my dad once in a while) and familiarity with Chicago, from hoofing it through downtown. I’m also more determined than ever that it’s not the city I want to end up in.

But more important than all that is what I’ve learned. I have a much better understanding of how a magazine works – how it’s brainstormed, put together and finalized. I’ve learned that it’s not a question of whether I like to write – I just have to be writing about something I enjoy. I’ve seen once again that the best thing about journalism is the people you encounter through stories and that any job can be enjoyable if you like your coworkers.

And I made some time for other things this summer, too. I got to take two nice trips with my family. I spent some quality time with my parents for the first time in a long time. I found gaps in the schedule for the friends who really matter – and saw once again that those individuals will make time for me.

I also happened to read 23 books, between train rides, slow shifts at the restaurant and relaxing before getting my six-and-a-half hours of sleep. So I guess I wasn’t too swamped.

But as this summer comes to a close, I’m ready for a change and to be done with long commutes and early mornings. A big part of my lack of apprehension is that I’m not giving up relaxation and sunshine like usual. I’ll be incredibly busy at Mizzou, but that won’t be a huge change. It’ll also be sunny and hot in Missouri well into September, so there are pool days to come. Plus, I’ll have my weekends free and I’ll be back in a place I love, where there’s always something happening and friends are close by.

But mostly, I’m just ready to take a break from being an adult and go back to being a college kid for a while.

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