How I Learned to Adult by Hayli Pillar

In “How I Learned to Adult,” Hayli Pillar takes her readers through the trials and tribulations of a young adult on her own for the first time in her life. As you read, pay close attention to how Hayli often employs humor in order to effectively comment on the unexpected difficulties she faces when performing “everyday” tasks, such as laundering her clothes and shopping for groceries. What role do these humorous portions play in the narrative? In other words, how does the humorous tone of the narrative affect you in ways that a more sober or seriousness tone might not? Last, consider how you might employ humor in your own writing and why.


        College is a frightening thing, but what’s even more frightening than that is a thing called “adulting.” Urban Dictionary explains adulting as being able to do grown up things and hold responsibilities like a job or paying your own way. That sounds simple right? You think, “Oh, if I can keep a job and pay for my groceries, I’ll be fine. I’m adulting!” WRONG. It’s so much more than that.

        When I came to college, I had no idea how to do the simplest things. I didn’t know how to do laundry and I’d bought groceries maybe once by myself. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal until my classes started and I lost a lot of my free time.

        But let’s put this first example into perspective… Laundry. Most college students are used to their parents doing their laundry at home for them and having the clothes folded and ready to be put up. That change hit me in the face like a brick. The first week I was here, I had changed my clothes multitudes of times and noticed one day that my laundry basket was overflowing. I could feel my chest tightening and my mind start racing as I realized I had no earthly idea how to wash my own clothes.  So, naturally, I called my mom.

        “Hey, can you please explain to me how in the world I’m supposed to work this machine of death?”

        “You mean the washing machine?”

        “Same difference,” I said.

After she laughed at me for a few minutes and made sure that I was definitely serious, she went into step-by-step detail on how to work those pearly white cleaning boxes. After writing down everything she said and hanging up, I headed downstairs to start the dreaded task. When I got downstairs to the laundry room, I sat the clothes basket and detergent down on the floor and then realized I had forgotten the note upstairs in my room. I took a look around the room at all the machines and thought “It can’t be that hard, right?” Boy was I wrong.

        I had waited in the laundry room for the allotted time and when I had opened the door to the machine, bubbles started spilling out and I noticed that my favorite white shirt had somehow slipped its way into the mix with all my bright colored clothes and had turned a light pink. I was mortified. How could someone who was considered an adult screw this up? It’s laundry, for crying out loud. Mom always made it look so easy.

        I looked back at the machine and tried to think of a solution. Could I just throw them in the dryer with bubbles still on them? Should I just rinse them again? After a good 10 minutes of internal debate, I hoped for the best and threw them in the dryer. Again, wrong move. I forgot that my new silky dress was in that mix and I forgot the damn white shirt again. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after my timer had went off and I started pulling out the clothes bit by bit. I think everyone knows what happened after that. Teenage girl crying on the laundry room floor and cursing her mama for not teaching her the basics of laundry 101 before she moved a solid 3 hours away. None of that could compare to the grocery shopping experience, though.

        Picture this: Aisle 5: snacks, candy, gum, etc. Aisle 6: a lost and confused Hayli looking for cereal in the bread aisle. Everything started off normal, I got a parking spot close to the door, got my cart, and pulled out my grocery list. I went for the staples first. Water, milk, bread, and gummy worms… What? A girl’s gotta have her study snacks. Anyways, after that, I was lost. I had dropped my grocery list somewhere along the line and was just kind of winging it at that point. I went up and down the aisles and ended up with way more in my cart than I should have. Walking up to the cashier, I didn’t think it was that much but as I was laying my items on the conveyor belt and the girl began ringing everything up, I realized I had no idea how to, not only do smart grocery shopping, but budget my own money. That one trip alone cost me $85.92. I could hear my bank account crying as I walked out with my cart full of goodies. On the ride back to campus, I took a look in my backseat through the rearview mirror and thought to myself that if I keep shopping like the way I did today, I’d be broke by the end of the month.

        Going through these experiences alone was definitely a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I never could have guessed I would be so bad at living on my own. By learning how to do my own laundry, grocery shop for myself, and budget my money, I realized that winging it for everything probably isn’t the best idea in life. Now, I can go on to bigger and better things… Like not missing my 8am class every Tuesday and realizing that scholarship comes before social obligation.

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