Anyway, sometimes that my parents seem to enjoy giving responsibilities as gifts. When I turned 16, I was taken to the local bank to open a checking account. I needed the checking account because my birthday gift was my very own phone line! With a monthly bill I had to pay! And also doubled as the modem line for the computer!
For the last few years I've used my birthday as an excuse to buy myself a gift. Usually it's an article of clothing or something other people didn't know I wanted. This year it's a real doozy though. The biggest gift I have ever given myself. It's the kind of gift that keeps on giving (not a Jelly of the Month Club membership), that will make me happy for years to come, and that falls into the category of responsibilities. See, when I was getting ready to graduate college, my parents helped me buy a car. They helped me with payments for a few years with the understanding that I would take over the payments around the halfway point of the loan. I've been making monthly payments on this car for years now, and I hadn't really been paying attention to how much longer I had left to pay until a couple months ago. I thought the car would be paid for in September, and I was really happy about that. Then last month I realized that I was 6 months off. That meant my car would be paid off in March! On the 18th! Which happens to be the day before my birthday! So this year for my birthday, I'm buying myself a car!
Of course, I've been driving this car for 5 years, so it's not like it's a brand new present for myself. It is, however, another step toward being a real grown-up. Which, I have to be honest, is both awesome and terrible. I'm happy to be responsible and everything, but it makes my inner child pretty sad that paying a bill is an acceptable birthday present to myself.
I know I'm not the only person in my age group that gets excited about this kind of victory. My roommate, for example, student taught 40 miles away for an entire semester at the end of college. Because of the commute and the fact that she couldn't work too many hours (though she worked way more than she should), she ended up putting all her gas on a single credit card for the semester. It was just what she had to do at the time. It ended up taking her more than a year to pay off that card, but it was the same kind of feeling for her. A step toward true adulthood! I have many friends who are burdened with many student loans from their educations, and a few of them are right on the cusp of paying some of them off. Even though most of them have multiple loans to pay for many years to come, the joy of paying off even the tiniest one gives them a deserved sense of accomplishment.
For a long time, I thought that becoming an adult meant I would have my life together. That I would feel stable and comfortable. I would know what I was doing and understand my responsibilities. I definitely thought that by now I would have my life all figured out with the husband, the house, and at least the thought of a child on the way. It's taken me a long time to realize that adults don't actually have everything figured out. That they are scared and unsure of things. On one hand it's kind of worrisome to think that these feelings might never go away. On the other hand, it's really nice to know that I'm not alone.