Mammoth Mind-Pho-ness: Adulting at and After Amherst

Pho Vu ’23 offers up her weekly dose of wisdom this week with advice about how to tackle that most difficult task left to Amherst students once they graduate: being a real adult.

Who among us hasn’t fantasized at one point or another about having more time to discover our limitless potential within the comfort of the Amherst bubble before going into the outside world? But, alas, our time here is finite. In the blink of an eye, you reach graduation, and you are left to stand on your own feet. From improving credit scores and paying utility bills to doing your taxes and choosing your insurance package, you are faced with many new responsibilities all at once. This can make adulting seem like a post-grad nightmare, but fear not — you aren’t alone in this journey! To give you a head start, here are some fresh pieces of advice that can hopefully help guide you on the right path to life as a newbie grown-up.

Remember Your Items

In terms of size, Amherst is elegantly humble. But when looking for a lost item, zoo-wee-mama does the campus appear big. And, of course, it is inevitable that each of us will lose things at times. If you are a member of AmherstBussin with notifications on, you can probably recall plenty of times when your phone buzzed with multiple messages from different people for the same purpose — finding their lost items. While at Amherst, we have resources like this to help us relocate our belongings, but after four years, we will have to face the wider world. There will be no group chat or community to turn to for help with your lost valuables. Fortunately, you can take some easy first steps to help solve this problem: Make digitized scans of your IDs, and keep your important belongings inside at fixed locations so you can always go back to the exact place just for them.

Figure Out Your Finances

Money may not be a big deal for a wealthy, heavily endowed institution like Amherst, but it is a serious unresolved problem for us students. It’s why we spend our years in college taking classes and doing internships that will help us land jobs that will make us money and motivate us to continue each morning. Splurging comes with a feeling of power, and that is why we are always tempted to spend.

In an era where machines are slowly replacing manual work, we see thousands of white-collar employees being laid off at Meta and other top corporations on the grounds that the economy is shrinking and organizational restructuring has become a necessity. It is even more important to have a personal fund to fall back on during these trying times. Being at a liberal arts college in a faraway town saves us from spending on stores that otherwise will be found in the city. However, spontaneous trips to New York City or Washington, D.C. for the weekend and unplanned online shopping sprees during Black Friday or Cyber ​​Monday sales can leave you cleaned out in no time. Right now, most of us indulge in the luxury of living on campus “rent-free” after having our parents pay a lump sum at the start of each semester. It is essential to maintain control of our budget while it’s still easy. Maintaining awareness of your balance and making necessary changes to your spending as needed are essential to obtaining financial stability. No high-paying corporate job can guarantee you this stability if you don’t spend wisely. Use your banking app’s budgeting tool to track your financial progress and plan a well-thought out budget so that you don’t have to go through days stressing about making ends meet.

Make Time for the People You Care About

Spending quality time with your friends is how you show them that they have an important place in your heart. If you constantly let your schoolwork be the excuse for missing Val meals with your friends, then you’ll struggle even more when you try to plan an intercity reunion with them years after graduation. While you’re still an Amherst student, you benefit from the immediate proximity to your friends on campus. Consider these whimsical strolls and dining hall get-togethers as a time to get close with your loved ones. When we graduate from Amherst, what’s left in our heads won’t be the ridiculously tough problem sets assigned in “Logic,” but the time we spent with our friends at the dining hall ranting about the difficulty of that class. Refrain from filling those gaps in an already packed day on your Google Calendar — they are meant for the important people in your life.

Give Yourself Enough Rest

“Work or rest?” is a quandary that each of us faces, especially on days when the balance is just impossible to strike and you have to choose. Amherst’s notorious workload seemingly never ends, but you shouldn’t give up your sleep time. When you work too hard and too long, the only thing that remains in your head is a ramshackle machinery constantly pressuring you to stop or rush to get that work done over. If we understand them well, school assignments are not merely there for us to complete. They are assigned with the true purpose of sharpening our application of the knowledge learned in class. Meet with your professors to develop an appropriate plan to help you get the rest that your body needs. There is definitely an exercise hidden behind every assignment you are given. Future-you will be grateful to present-you for not missing out on solving them.

Stand Your Ground

Adulthood marks a new level of maturity in your thoughts and actions. Upon entering the adult world, you must bear in mind that you will be solely responsible for the decisions you make and their consequences. Take caution when doing something, even if it may be done out of good intention to support someone. “Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye,” as the author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said. Use all of your five senses to judge matters. Don’t fall victim to peer pressure simply because the majority is doing it. Pluck up your courage and speak your mind. In many cases, it’s best to remain silent as a form of protest in a world where people resort to violence, money, or a zillion other means to threaten your belief systems. Yes, it feels like you’re running solo against an entire world, and it’s undeniable feelings of uncertainties and tiredness may run amok every so often. In this context, the Korean proverb “존버는 승리한다” that basically means “enduring wins all” is what you need to carve into your heart. We are Amherst students and we are here because we want to be here. Similar to this spirit, it is a core tenet of life to act in concordance with our beliefs. Standing up for what we believe shapes us into a complete individual, thereby making us rightful leaders who act for the betterment of our people and communities.

Be Kind at Heart

This advice may seem out of place and moralizing, but it is what will best protect our journey to adulthood. Do something that you think will benefit the world — something that would put your mind at ease if you could do nothing else before you had to leave this Earth. Your actions will accumulate into a bank of “good deeds,” and later on, during difficult times, it is these good deeds that will help you overcome hardship — not the breadth of your educational background, your wealth, or your career successes. This is life’s covenant to protect us before we step out into the scary world beyond Amherst, where kindness eventually wins.

Adulting is a lifelong process. When we finally get the hang of something, another problem will come out of nowhere. It is common knowledge that when life gives us lemons, we are supposed to make lemonade. As Amherst students, I’m sure many of us will make invisible ink out of them to encode secret messages that one can only read under candlelight. One of the things that makes Amherst great is that it is a community filled with individuals who have a strong capacity to develop themselves to achieve success in the future, despite the steep learning curve in adulting. Surrounded by such people, you would be wise to make an effort to learn from your fellow Mammoths and you will be just fine.

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