Into the Adult World, One Step at a Time.

A Personal Narrative by Kassidy Hart

“Instead of a cat next year, you should get a dog,” Carlie exclaims to Nick as she tosses the slobbery blue ball toward Willow to fetch.

“Dogs require so much more attention. I’ll be at my job for eight or more hours. Plus, you’ll still be in school and unable to see him every weekend since I’ll be further away,” Nick reminds her, as he sits near her. Carlie’s eyes drop a bit, remembering the move he will be making from Brookings, South Dakota, to a small Iowa town about five hours away.

“Yeah,” her expression changes suddenly, to one of excitement and longing. “But we could get a Pitbull!”

“Pitbulls are cute and can be so sweet but a lot of apartments have restrictions on the breed,” I pitch in. When Zane and I looked at apartments over winter break, we barely found any that allowed pets – so it was a miracle when we found the one, we’re in. And even though they do allow animals for an extra fee, we had to get her breed approved and she’s a border collie.

In that moment, we were simply discussing dogs, which is a common topic amongst young adults who enjoy animals. But the whole interaction felt so natural, the conversation transitioning from one topic to another very smoothly. I began to picture Saturdays that involved more than just Zane watching Iowa football with me doing homework beside him – Saturdays spent out and about with our new couple friends.  

We were all gathered around the 40-inch tv that Zane insisted on getting with HD quality. The NASCAR Daytona 500 was currently paused for a lightning delay, so as we talked, everyone took turns throwing the ball for our nine-month-old puppy to chase down and retrieve. Willow was having the time of her life with people finally visiting our apartment. Even though Carlie and Nick had planned to just stop over to let Nick shower, the conversation picked up and they ended up staying two extra hours. 

“Okay hear me out. What if we got a monkey!”

The thought of Carlie with a pocket-sized demon monkey made everyone break out into laughter, noting the increase of responsibility that jumped from the idea of just getting a cat to the closest thing to a human baby.

“Carlie, monkeys are terrifying and cost way more than even a dog would,” Zane notes as he is slouched in the corner of the living room atop our giant LoveSac. 

The conversation seemed to vary throughout the three hours they were there, discussing anything from school gossip to apartment pros and cons. Nick was about to graduate from South Dakota State University and Zane wasn’t in school, but Carlie and I were able to converse as we did when it was just us two, even with them around and they willfully jumped in.

When they finally left, I started thinking about the situation. I was so nervous, as I had been for the last two years, to meet my best friend’s high-school sweetheart. I had only interacted with him a couple times before, through subtle facetime jokes or a quick pass-by in the hallway. I assumed it would be uncomfortable and forced since he seemed so different from my boyfriend and me. But the interaction was pleasantly innocent and felt so natural, as if Zane and I had experience with couple friends prior to these two.

Zane and I were never a couple who had a common friend group. We started dating sophomore year of high school and, since he wasn’t really an extra-curricular guy and I was an in an overwhelming amount of extra-curriculars, we kind of stuck to either each other or our own friend groups. The two never inter-mingled. We even went to different colleges, so we never really got the chance to start over and make friends together. I was worried that we would never find people who we could both be ourselves around and feel comfortable to casually talk to.

I knew that the natural flow of the conversation was a surprising bonus, but honestly, what I noticed more was that our conversations seemed to be more mature than they would have been if we did get together to double date two years ago. Most freshmen in college are absorbed in the “now” of things, focused on last Friday night’s party or the extra credit they are hoping to get for an intro class they were put into. As an upperclassman, those things seemed silly. There was occasional banter about on-campus life, which made sense since Carlie is still a Resident Assistant in the freshman dorm, but other than that, we were more interested in the future details and, quite frankly, those more mature topics were what made the interaction feel more authentic.

Dr. Shannon Claxton, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Morningside, has spent a lot of time conducting research on romantic relationships but says that friendships are usually pretty similar. According to some of her research, she can note an increase in emerging adulthood, typically 18–29-year-olds, for the need for more stable relationships. Because there is such a strong emphasis on identity exploration during this time in life, people are more likely to develop a clearer picture of who they want around them as they find out who they are. 

For the first time, I was able to experience on my own this type of adult friendship I had seen with my parents and their friends. In a way, it was a sad realization that the days of whispering about our crushes smiling at us on the playground or boasting about the newest sparkly shirt from Justice we just got were long gone. But it was a sneak peek into my next couple of years as I begin to step into my senior year of college and prepare myself for the adult world beyond what college allows.