by Nina Hufman
I recently had an internal crisis: I realized that I am nineteen years old and almost done with my junior year of college.
I just got out of high school a year ago and I already have to be thinking about real life. I just started college and it’s already almost over. I am most likely going to do a second major and stay in school for two years, partially because I really want a second degree and partially because I feel so unprepared to graduate.
I was lucky enough to be able to be concurrently enrolled in college classes while in high school. I started taking online classes from a nearby community college when I was a sophomore and was able to earn my Associate’s degree halfway through my senior year. I transferred to Cal Poly Humboldt at eighteen years old as a junior. While I am grateful to have been able to save money and time, my circumstances come with their own set of challenges.
It’s really difficult to relate to my peers, because my experience is not a very common one. I have one friend who is in pretty much the exact situation that I’m in. She transferred as a junior right out of high school. We talk a lot about how we missed out on the freshman experience and how difficult it is to relate to people who haven’t been in our situation.
I don’t live in the dorms, I don’t eat in the dining hall, and I don’t have to take any annoying GE classes that have nothing to do with my major. While most people would agree that these experiences are awful, they get to commiserate and bond with others over those experiences.
All of my friends and the people in my classes are juniors and seniors. I went straight from being in high school to being surrounded by people who are, for the most part, actual functioning adults who have goals and life plans. I feel like I’m so far behind; they’ve had three or four years to figure these things out and I’ve had one.
My friends also don’t want to do any of the fun Humboldt things that freshmen do when they move here. I want to go to the beaches, go hiking, and explore this beautiful area, but I don’t want to do it alone. My friends have been here for years, they’ve already seen and done all of those things.
People are usually shocked when they find out my age. They hit me with ‘I thought you were at least 21,’ ‘you’re so mature for your age,’ and ‘wow, you must be really smart.’
The reality is that I have been a mini-adult since I was fifteen because I had to learn how to interact with adults in my college classes. The result of this is feeling out of place literally all the time. I’m simultaneously too young and too old for everything. I’m ready to start my life and be an adult, but I also feel like I missed out on my own adolescence.