This is the first summer where I am an independent “adult” in certain ways, especially compared to last summer.
I have been gathering my life back together following finals, and I have moved to Petoskey, Michigan, for eight weeks for the opportunity to go to Summer Leadership Project with Campus Outreach, a religious organization on campus.
According to Campus Outreach Columbus, “The Summer Leadership Project (SLP) is an eight week summer training opportunity designed to help college students grow in character, leadership and professional skills, and their walks with God.”
And that’s exactly why I am going.
However, this isn’t about my faith but the journey of being a decisive and rational adult, even if I am still learning to be one.
It wasn’t entirely an easy decision; I was hesitant and questioning a lot.
Following a decision this large, moving away for the summer after spending nine months away my family already was not easy.
So, how does one be independent in decision-making?
As Gen Z students, it’s already complex enough to exist in a world that says we’re this and that. Personally, I find this generation as a mix of baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. Of individuals I know and interact with, I find each one has a mix of traits that is not characteristic of Gen Z.
This generation has the capability to make decisions and be independent, even if society tells us otherwise at times. But how?
Here are some tips I have learned over the past year of the pre-adult stage:
1. Your decisions are your own.
The first independent decision I made as an adult was to travel to Texas — alone.Mind you, I was visiting a relative, and my best friend went with me. But that was still the first time I traveled solo without a blood relative, and it wasn’t a bad decision. It was a simple and easy process. I had connecting flights from Columbus to Nashville to Dallas; all I had to do was wait, board and fly. There was an uncomfortable situation where a man on one of the flights asked me, “Ma’am, are you Filipino?” Besides the racial comment and the odd and irritable people every once in a while, it was a good first decision I made myself.
What I advise is, whatever decisions you make, assure they are your own and not anyone else’s. It is okay to ask for advice, but don’t let anyone decide what you should do with your life. Especially, if you’re an incoming freshman entering your first year of college. I kept thinking during the school year when faced with certain decisions: “What will my mom think?” But truthfully, she supported me in each decision I made, even if there were a few bumps here and there.
Be confident in your decisions, and be sure to communicate with others because you’ll truly never know who’ll support you, but still remember each choice is your own.
2. Live your life to the fullest.
I can’t emphasize this enough — live your life!
My first year of college granted me such amazing opportunities and experiences that I couldn’t have asked for a better year, but it started with the decision to live how I wanted, not how others wanted me to live.
At the beginning of certain decisions, it can be hard to try and measure the pros and cons, or what others will think about your decisions. I won’t tell you to dive in and go straight for everything that comes your way — you’re guaranteeing stress — but know each opportunity you get may only come once. People say college is the best time of your life, and in certain cases, it is true.
All the great things I experienced this year were because I took risks I never thought I would. If you asked me a year ago if I would be in the position I am right now, I’d say you’re insane. But, honestly, I wouldn’t have climbed a 15-foot wall or spent a summer away from home if I didn’t take those risks from last summer and the first weeks of college.
3. Don’t overburden yourself.
On a serious note, this is quite important. Sometimes big decisions come with big responsibilities, reactions and results.
The decision to move to Petoskey has granted me the responsibility to reach out and raise money to go, which was a surprise to my family and friends. The end result, though, is I’m in a new town for eight weeks and able to explore and do what I love, as I also get to grow in my faith and make a bit of money working locally. The sub-results are soon to come of the decision as I experience the project and leave toward the end of July.
Overall, don’t allow big decisions to complicate your life. If it brings on too many thoughts and unnecessary stress, maybe it’s best to not follow through with the decision. Or if you have a gut-wrenching feeling that you want to go through with the decision but you’re having setbacks, maybe it’s best to go for it, even if you’re scared.
I obviously don’t know each individual’s circumstances, but I can advise that coming to a simple answer is not easy, and do not let it overwhelm you.
4. Let the universe take its course.
Sometimes decisions are even hard to grasp onto. All the questions and various paths that arise from one single decision can cause a variety of conclusions to come up and other sub-decisions. It can be too stressful. Sometimes, all you can really do is let the universe takes its course. Whether you pray or have faith, allow the decision to just be. Ultimately, at the end of the day, fate will work itself out.
Overall, remember that the pre-adulting stage will not be simple and easy and there will be obstacles and setbacks; you’ll make mistakes. But always know that your decisions are your own and your life is your own, and no person can tell you otherwise.