I’m Not A Real Person, Yet


Embracing the freedom and personal growth of your college years is crucial. (Courtesy of the Ram)

In Noah Baumbach’s 2012 film “Frances Ha,” Frances says one thing that has always stuck with me: “I’m embarrassed, I’m not a real person yet.” I relate to Frances in many ways, not just because we share a first name, but I understand her unmatched curiosity for a world in which she does not yet belong. I, like Frances Ha, am also not a real person yet, and it has been a challenge for me to accept that until now. 

Like everyone else, I’ve experienced feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome, especially throughout college where everyone seems to be comparing themselves to one another. I’ve felt like there is no room for true individuality, true uninterrupted solitude, in which I can find a place to become a real person. But, I also think it’s important to understand what a real person is before diagnosing myself as a fake one.  

A real person has a driver’s license, which I don’t have. Of course there are many excuses I could make as to why I don’t own this declaration of freedom in the form of paper. One being I’m from Chicago, the city, so I just have no need for it. Two being COVID-19, but that has become an excuse for everything nowadays. Three being environmental protection, which is important to me, but not a valid reason to not have my license. The truth is avoidance. Avoidance of becoming a real person. 

A real person cooks their own food. I cook sometimes, but when I do it’s always basic, with no variety and no creativity. Whenever I bake, it somehow fails because I’m too impatient to follow the directions exactly and get frustrated. I have friends from home who live in houses with kitchens, who cook all their meals, like real adults. I wish I was that much of a real person, but my lack of culinary skills makes me feel like a failure who depends on a plastic student ID for all my meals. 

A real person knows what they want, in everything. They know how to approach all situations, they know how to talk to people in a way where they seem normal, not in a way where they analyze every little thing they say. They know where their future will take them. They know what they’re passionate about, they don’t jump around all the time. They know they have to pay their rent, they know to talk to their landlord, they know how to say no, or yes. I don’t know how to do any of these things. I sincerely wish I did, actually, I wish I was more capable of understanding the how-to’s of being an adult. 

Since I was little, like really little, I never wanted to grow up. I had a pillow on my bed that said: “never grow up.” Despite how ugly it was, and how cringed-out I get looking back on that pillow, I still feel some of those fears about the future. I’m nervous to fly by myself sometimes, but I’m also excited to sit in silence on the plane for two hours. I’m anxious to call the doctor’s office, but I like taking the subway there. I’m on edge before going into a job interview, but I love the exhilarated feeling I get after the interview is over. I have begun to like doing the things that are slowly making me a real person, and I think that’s the most important thing. 

At 20, we are in a limbo, like a river that splits the land. On one side is our childhood, and on the other is our future — adulthood. We are floating down the middle, trying to make it to the other side. Even if there is no such thing as a “real” person, I’m definitely not one. I would say I’m two-thirds of the way there, and I’m okay with that. Not being a real person is what college is, and for me that’s a relief.

For now, I’m going to embrace not being a real person, because this is the only time in my life when I will be able to be indecisive, a little aimless and without a driver’s license.