Although it’s been about 8 years since being old enough to vote, and 5 years since being old enough to order a glass of wine, I don’t think I truly felt like an adult until recently. It wasn’t some grand moment that I woke up and all of a sudden I felt different; it was very gradual. For me, the biggest defining moment was the realization that the decisions I make have consequences (good or bad) and I am the only one who is responsible for my decisions.
The first obvious one is my health insurance status. After I hit 26 I was dropped from my parent’s coverage, and very likely, I will be uninsured for quite some time. Now, I had always said that I knew this would happen, and that it was the right choice for me. But last week it hit me what that decision actually means. It means that not only will I very realistically be paying a tax (or fine, depending on which interpretation you prefer!), but if something were to happen, there would be very little I could do. In a split second something could happen and I could very easily turn into one of those people who becomes bankrupt because some crazy accident occurred. I had always viewed my decision as the economical one; why pay almost $4,000 a year on something that won’t be used when I could just pay $695? But of course, it’s not that black and white of a decision. Now, truthfully, this isn’t an issue that actually “scares” me, because for me, nothing has changed. I wasn’t using my insurance benefits when I had them, and it doesn’t “feel” any different to me at the moment. But it’s still a risk that I’m taking. I made that decision and it was my choice, but in the end, I can only hold myself responsible. It’s not the fault of any bill or legislation; I’m the one choosing to be uninsured.
If you were to ask me my real fear, it would be my loan payments. Just the number itself is sometimes hard to believe. I haven’t had a problem yet, but I am very well aware that it could easily change. Then occasionally I’ll become angry at the fact that I have this much debt. But just like my insurance issue, it was my choice. I decided to go to law school, and most likely, no recitation of employment statistics or average debt would have changed my mind. I knew that I wanted to become a lawyer, so I made sure I did what I could to achieve it. As a consequence, I am in the profession I worked hard to get into (and greatly enjoying the work), but I have a lot of debt.
It’s easy to look at someone from afar and point out where they went wrong, but what good does that really do? Anytime I do that in the future, I have to remind myself that none of us know what will happen, and I could very easily be the one making poor choices. In the end, I like to think that not just myself, but all of us, try to do the best we can with the information we have in front of us. Maybe instead of being critical of others’ decisions in the future, I will try my best to be as supportive as I can.