Being a “Grown-Up” in a College Town

By: Ashlee

A new college graduate has to make a lot of decisions. One of the biggest of the “Giant Decisions To Make” pool will probably be deciding where you live after you take off the ceremonial cap and gown. Will you move out of state, back in with your parents (I know it’ll only be for a little while), or will you stay in the town you’ve studied, partied, and lived the last few years?

I decided to stay in my college town of Duluth. Things are working out so far, but being a sort-of adult can be tough — especially when you’re being a grown-up in a college town of approximately 80,000 people. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong, but it has presented some challenges to fully embracing adult life.

My typical day usually includes some form of the following: Waking up and getting ready for work, downing a strong cup of coffee, working from nine to five, heading home, cooking dinner, chatting it up with family/friends/roommates, and heading out for a walk/run. Depending on the day, I manage to work in blogging, watching my favorite TV series on Netflix, reading, making a Target run, or a mix of everything.

Yes, there is the occasional happy hour or dinner outing with friends, but these don’t happen as often as you might imagine when thinking about your post-college lifestyle.

Being in a college town, I often find myself stuck between two worlds. College students (some of who are good friends of mine) are still partying hard while adults, like me, are trying to hold steady jobs. I’ve learned to ignore the eye rolls and “old lady” name-calling when I tell my friends I can’t stay out at a bar until 1 a.m. on a Tuesday.

On the other hand, Duluth is home to many people and families who have lived here for generations. In my office, for example, I’m the youngest staff member and most of my coworkers are married and/or have kids. I’m neither married nor a parent. Of course, everyone I work with knows this, but I still feel a little out of place because I never have cute kid stories to share.

Do I feel pressured in any way to grow up faster because of these differences? Not at all. All it comes down to is that they make for a slightly awkward existence during an already awkward time in one’s life: sort-of adulthood right out of college.

The really tricky thing? I look like a college student. In a college town, that more often than not means I get treated like a college student. It’s not always a bad thing. I can take advantage of student discounts without having to show off my student ID. That part is good, but it would be nice to see a little more respect. For Duluth, the need to keep new graduates in town longer after graduation has already been recognized and the city is striving to make itself more desirable to sort-of adults like myself.

While it’s bizarre to think my daily routine includes going to work, hitting up Cub foods for the week’s groceries, paying bills (student loans included!) and going out to a bar with friends later in the day, this IS my normal. All I can do is make the most of it. And trust me when I say, I am.

Read Ashlee’s other posts

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