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Being independent at 20 before graduating can be tiring

Being independent at 20 before graduating can be tiring

I’m turning 21 in two months. My college graduation is in a week, I’m happy with the degree and university name I’ll be carrying for life, and age-wise, it all fits in to society’s Universal Timeline of Life. All should be well, but I am freaking the fuck out.

Contrary to popular belief (a.k.a. my nosey titos and titas’ beliefs), we can’t all follow the ABCs of the Timeline. We don’t all graduate elementary, then high school, then college, and then get the dream job and a dream partner with a dream house and dream babies in order. There are people who skip out on steps, or people who end up doing things in a different order, like me.

Read moreThings I’ve Learned Living Semi-Independently As A Millennial

I’m turning 21 in two months. By that time, I’d (technically) be a fresh graduate. I’d also be living in Metro Manila and working my full time job for 11 months, paying my own rent for nine, and raising a rescue kitten for two.

Graduation is scheduled a day before I’m due to pay rent and bills, with work deadlines for the next week hanging over my head. Funny, my independence day doesn’t feel too liberating.

***

To the Miss Independent that Ne-Yo sings about, I’d like to ask two things: One, how on earth do you keep everything together? Two, how are you really?

Independence, when my friends and I talked about it during our angst-riddled teens, was the dream. Independence was about getting a job and places of our own, and lord knows we wanted that soon as possible. Oh, the freedom that independence provided, we thought. Parties can go on forever and we can get ink tattooed onto our skin.

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To me, independence was also Ne-Yo’s girl. She bought her house and car, paid her bills and walked the talk, all while finding time to stay fly and get a mani-pedi on the regular. She was my inspiration, right next to Rihanna and Beyoncé. So of course I did everything I could to follow her footsteps soon as I can.

Last year as I was finishing college, I got delayed for two months. As a result, I completed all my units during the quiet months of summer classes, when there was no influx of long Facebook posts attached to toga portraits or an array of pictures next to the UP Oblation on Instagram to signify graduation season.

I finished college, supposedly one of the most monumental periods of our lives, with the instructor of my final class saying a rushed congratulations, and then stranger classmates hurriedly funneling out the room to finally, mercifully enjoy their last bits of summer. I went to get a cheap hotdog sandwich afterwards, went home, and continued on as per usual. It was a pathetic affair.

Read more10 tips for college freshmen from a graduating senior

Fast forward a year later, and I’m now a jaded 20-year-old in a sea of elated graduates, all writing their three-paragraph #Sablay2019 post with smiles on their faces. It’s like reaching the finish line for everyone else, but for me it’s more of a closing door.

It’s like reaching the finish line for everyone else, but for me it’s more of a closing door.

I tried being miss independent and ended up anxious and burnt out—not a pessimist, that’s just the reality of life. Maybe it was because I tried to follow a mold that didn’t fit me.

The thing is, independence is not about finishing a checklist. It’s about having the opportunity to set your own timeline, follow your own pace.

The thing is, independence is not about finishing a checklist. It’s about having the opportunity to set your own timeline, follow your own pace.

It’s also about having the opportunity to “fail” spectacularly at things—but at least you fail in your own terms. You can set your graduation back. You can go from job to job to find the perfect one.

The failing part is never fun, but with independence, you also get the opportunity to learn and try again. Reinvent yourself the way you want to. Start over from scratch if you so deem it.

During graduation, I’ll allow myself this victory—and I hope for anyone who feels just as jaded, you allow this for yourself, too.

Right now, I still feel a bit lost. But I try to look at the bright side of things and realize that I hold my own time and pace. During graduation, I’ll allow myself this victory—and I hope for anyone who feels just as jaded, you allow this for yourself, too.

I probably won’t allow myself a long graduation post anymore, though. I think I’ve maxed out my quota with this story. Happy graduation to us, class of 2019!

Art by Julia Danielle David

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Giselle Barrientos
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