Graphic by Jackie Cameron
At seven-years-old I was boiling water and cooking myself Kraft mac and cheese without parental assistance. By ten-years-old, I was setting my own alarm on my Cinderella alarm clock and getting myself ready for school. At seventeen-years-old, I am a self-dependent high schooler.
I have been taking care of simple tasks, like cooking and cleaning, all by myself since a young age. I’m not asking for any applause – this story isn’t compliment bait. It’s a public thank you to the woman who taught me I could and should be independent: my mom.
When I’m sick, I dial my doctor’s number and schedule an appointment. I drive myself to the doctor’s office on 75th and Metcalf and go to the pharmacy in Corinth Square afterward to pick up any prescriptions. The only help I need from my mom on a sick day, is for her to call the attendance line. And trust me, I’d call attendance if I could.
By completing tasks on my own, I have found a new boost of self confidence. It is extremely empowering to know that I have complete control over the path I take in life.
It is time we start making our own turkey sandwiches for lunch every day, and folding our own t-shirts and shorts into clean piles because we’re off to college within years – or for some of us months. It is time that we learn to do these things on your own because nobody is go
ing to be there to do it for us when we are miles away from home. Our parents should be there to guide us while we are growing up, not do the growing up for us.
I nanny three days a week and work at Addie Rose, a clothing boutique, on the weekends. Making a salary of around $100 a week gets me a tank of gas, a couple of Chipotle bowls and if I’m lucky a shirt from Urban Outfitters that I’ve had sitting in my online cart for a month.
I have these jobs because I make money, and in turn the importance of independently managing time and money. I don’t have to ask for your mom’s credit card or scavenge for spare change in the couch cushions when I want a Chai Tea from Starbucks. Knowing to responsibly manage money is essential, because my parents won’t be filling my bank account with a surplus of spending money when I’m living on my own.
Being independent isn’t just earning your own money but also having the ability to listen to your own voice and be confident in your decision making. If a friend suggest you send them the test answers, say no because you think it’s a bad idea. Being self-dependent allows you to learn to take responsibility for your actions. If you drink underage and you get in trouble, the only person you can blame for your actions is yourself.
Being independent is simply being able to take care of yourself. On your own.
Two years from now, I will be a freshman in college. I can already imagine teaching my roommate how to use the coin-slot washing machines; I will probably have to tell her that whites go by themselves and delicates should be hand-washed. I can envision the divide between my side of the room with my perfectly made bed and folded clothes, and her side of the room, will resemble a disaster. For dinner, I will be able to microwave a pack of ramen noodles without even looking at the instructions while my roommate goes out to be served.
So the next time you can’t stand the pile of dirty clothes in the corner of your room that has been there for three weeks, take them down to the washer and teach yourself how to separate your lights and darks and put in the proper proportion of detergent for your load.
Even taking small steps like that toward independence will move you in the right direction for your future. There will come a day when my mom won’t just be a hallway away, but I know that I’ll be just fine.