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Sometimes, I am truly proud of myself, and this is a pride that comes with self-respect, not vanity. This self-respect comes along when I prove to myself that I can do things on my own. It comes from making my own mistakes and fixing them all on my own. It comes from realizing that after two years (give or take a few vacation months) of being away from home, I am not still the timid little mouse I always thought I was. I really am proud of myself because I can be alone and not be afraid. I am proud of myself because I am growing up.

The story behind all of this started on Thursday (a few days after I came back to my university) when I found that my car (Bubbles) wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. This really confused me because I had just driven for eight minutes from my university to the dance studio where I work. While I had been driving, I noticed that the air conditioner wasn’t really working. My car is old, so I didn’t think much of it and rolled down the window. Because I forgot to roll the window up before I turned the car off, I tried to turn the car back on. That is when it didn’t start.

I called my dad (I’m not very grown up yet) and told him what was going on. He told me the battery was dead. Then, I told him that I had seen what looked like a bit of tire rubber on the ground by my car before I left the college. And then I realized that was the drive belt (actually, I think it’s an alternator belt??) I was supposed to have replaced before I came to school in the first place! (I was going to fix it this weekend!) So, after I got a bit panicky, I went in to work. (It was a lovely first day back, by the way). Afterwards, I called one of my friends to pick me up. Bubbles stayed behind.

Yesterday, I called the local mechanic (considering that I hate telephone conversations with people I do not know – this is also a big step). They told me I would have to have the car towed to them, which was not going to happen! So, I called my dad (again). All I had to do was charge the battery (which another friend was kind enough to help with) and not turn the car off until I got to the mechanic who was three minutes away. Well, he would have been three minutes away if I had just remembered which street I was on in the first place, but that just proves (again) that I should never trust my mental map.

When I finally got to the car shop, I actually talked to one of the mechanics! I didn’t need one of my parents to talk for me. I only stumbled over my words a little. I was able to tell him about the problem clearly and concisely. I can’t say that this was the most thrilling thing I’ve ever done, but it wasn’t difficult. My insecurities were all gone because I had a problem that needed to be fixed, and I was the only one who could make sure that it would be fixed. College really has helped me grow up, and I think that going away to college has been better for me than simply moving out of my parents’ house. At college I can be alone, but I still have friends and peers around me. I am far enough away from my parents that I cannot simply run home when I am scared, but I can always call home. I am on my own in this raging river of life, but I can always reach for a lifeline. It also helps that I don’t have to worry about stuff like paying bills with my not-really-a-paycheck job.

Tell me about your back-to-school experiences. What adventures have helped you grow up?