Ever heard of “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide”? Brace-faced, pimply, lanky little Anna was obsessed with that show, and all I ever wanted in middle school was a guide that told me step-by-step how to navigate life. Now, quite a few years later as a washed-up college junior, I still haven’t quite grown out of my awkward phase (I’m starting to think I never will), and I still wish I had a school survival guide — a life survival guide, to be frank — considering college is hard and life is hard and I don’t really know what I’m doing yet.
For example, how in the world do you grocery shop on a budget? How do you shop for the perfect amount of food that is healthy and won’t go bad? How do you not spend 50 bucks on Hint of Lime Tostitos alone? Living in a house of my own has definitely made me realize all the things I took for granted – I’ll never complain about the dining halls again, that’s for sure.
It’s funny how the process of eating food in college becomes so much more complicated than I had ever experienced before. Learning how to eat healthy in the dining halls is tricky enough — it took me until sophomore year to figure out how to make a decent salad from the salad bar (I lived off of ramen until my senior year of high school, give me a break). My experience with the dining halls has been all about balance. Sometimes I’d eat Cap’n Crunch for dinner, sometimes I’d eat the stir-fried veggies, but overall I figured out that a nice mix between healthy and not-so-healthy was all it really took.
Cooking my own food though? No way. The first week of school I was overambitious and only bought things like kale, broccoli, avocados and dark-chocolate-covered almonds, because I thought I’d be one of those cute, trendy Instagram girls who lives off of salad and makes perfect smoothie bowls for every meal. I’ve already caved and resorted to scrounging around for frozen food and mac and cheese, because I just don’t understand how anyone makes kale taste good.
Cooking is a process, just like managing the dining hall was. With each year I enter further into adulthood, I realize all the things I don’t know about how to be a responsible, independent human. Sometimes I feel like I face plant over each hurdle I come across, but I guess that’s the nature of growing up. It ain’t easy, but I’ll get there eventually.