A credit card is something I, in theory, knew I needed eventually. Apparently a credit score is a thing that people care about here. The thing is, for the longest time, I thought the idea of “building credit” was ridiculous.
The going advice is that you shouldn’t go over 30% of your credit limit, and that you should pay it off when you can. This kind of all goes with the assumption that you should only use your credit card for things you can pay already pay for. Which is ridiculous, because then you could pay for it directly instead of using a credit card. One reason to get a credit card, then, is to get something called a credit score, which is a number related to your credit history, which is something that people like landlords care about.
I knew all this, in theory. I’ve known for a few months now that, once I graduated, I’d move to New York and would have to find an apartment there. Yet I didn’t think about needing a credit score up until a few weeks ago, which was when I applied for my first credit card. That’s when I learned that some credit score formulas required a few months of activity before they started existing. Oops.
My grand unified theory of adulting is that it’s thinking about things that aren’t problems yet, but will become problems if ignored. Like having a credit card, which leads to a credit score, which leads to getting an apartment. Or going to the dentist every few months. Or buying new shoes to replace the shoes that have growing holes in them. Or health insurance, or taxes, or feeding yourself, or Roth IRAs. My holey shoes aren’t a problem now, but they might be in a few days, or weeks, or months. I can delay apartment hunting, but I have to do it eventually.
In my blogger app, one blog prompt I answered was “When was the first time you felt like a grown up?” My list of things that made me feel grown up included: renting a room, buying a mattress, flying alone, applying for a visa, job hunting. At the time, my thought was:
I know it’s wrong, but I see growing up as things that are defined by the things I do alone. I see growing up less of dealing with problems, and more of having to worry about these kinds of problems in the first place. That growing up is this thing that’s inherently alone and full of problems, and my choice was either staying immature forever or become an adult.
Many of the “grown up problems” I listed happened because I started living alone, because these were things other people used to worry about. I didn’t have to worry about furniture, because my parents used to worry about that for me. I guess that’s why I associated these adulting things with being alone.
In a follow-up post I made a month later, I wrote:
Grown up. The MIT blog prompt asks; when was the first time you really felt like a grown up? and now that I think about it I kind of don’t want to be a grown up. Let me be a child and let me enjoy speeding down a ramp on a rolling chair, let me lie down on the carpet to stare at the dome, let me roll around in the grass and make a mess and play games.
I didn’t have many adult role models growing up, so for a while my idea of being a grown up was tied to my parents, who were kinda humorless. You couldn’t have these adult problems and be a fun person to be around, or at least, that’s what I thought.
Four years of hindsight later, I don’t think adulting has to be something you do alone, or that growing up means becoming unadventurous. It’s about taking initiative to act on things that aren’t quite problems yet. I confused taking initiative for being alone. You have to act on your problems first, because other people probably aren’t going to bring them up, but you don’t have to act alone. And I confused thinking ahead for being unfun. You can deal with your problems before they become bigger, but you don’t have to worry about your problems all the time.
Sometimes I’ve made mistakes, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad adult, whatever that’s supposed to mean. My credit history is too short, but that only means I need to ask for help when apartment hunting this summer.