Gaining Independence as a Twenty-Something

America’s Independence Day is approaching. In honor of our nation’s independence, I decided to dedicate a post to gaining independence in your 20s. Cheesy? I know. Independence can mean different things for different twenty-somethings but when I say independence I mean financial independence. For most of us, our 20s is when we finish college, get our first job and move out on our own. All of a sudden, we’re supposed to know how to manage a budget, pay for our own food, clothing and housing and have enough left over for savings. All of a sudden, we’re an adult. All of a sudden, it feels like we’re on our own. But you’re not alone! Many of us are struggling to get the hang of this adulthood thing. As such, there are a few things you should remember as you work towards total independence.

Take it one step at a time.

The first thing you have to remember is that Rome wasn’t built in one day. Similarly, becoming an entirely self-sufficient, well-functioning adult is not going to happen over night. Even though you’re technically not a child anymore, you have to take baby steps. Life happens in cycles. So if you just moved out on your own but you’re still relying on Mom and Dad to pay your cell phone bill, don’t fret. Celebrate your successes, each one is getting you one step closer to your final destination.

It’s okay to regress.

So you did it, you took a leap of faith, went out on your own and you didn’t make it. Instead, you fell flat on your face. Now you’re moving back in with Mom and Dad and you’ve got your tail between your legs. It’s okay! My final year of graduate school I worked really hard to have a job at the end of May and a place to call my own. Did that happen? Not quite. I ended up moving back in with my dad and working at his business until I landed my first full-time job. Life rarely goes as planned. The point is to keep trying even when at first you don’t succeed.

You’re never truly alone.

What many don’t realize that in addition to being scary, being independent can also be lonely. Especially if you live on your own and you don’t have any friends or family nearby. The key is to remember that as much as you’re “on your own,” as an adult, you are never truly alone. Even though you’re trying to break away from your family financially, doesn’t mean you can’t rely on them for emotional support. And friends! They are just important in your life as they have ever been. Lucky for you, they’re also going through many of the same struggles you’re roughing it threw. Lean on them!

It doesn’t take much to doubt yourself or beat yourself up for small failures at this time in your life. I know I have done my share of both. Being independent is hard and it comes with lots of growing pains. But if you take away anything, I hope it’s the message that you must keep going. Enjoy the small wins. Push through the setbacks. Rely on others. And don’t stop.

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