Former Georgetown University Student Association President Joe Luther told us at New Student Orientation that college would be just like preschool: lots of naps, making new friends, crying, puking and learning important life skills. Sure enough, every day on the Hilltop we’ve ridden the struggle GUTS bus a bit further on the bumpy road to adulthood, picking up valuable tips and tricks for getting along in the world. Welcome to Adventures in Adulting, where every other week we’ll be talking about how we’re really all just faking this whole adulting thing, during this, our final summer of quasi-freedom before senior year. So, what’s our first stop after disembarking from O’Donovan’s on the Waterfront? Grocery shopping.
For some reason, no one talks about how bad we all are at buying food for ourselves. Think about it. Since you started college, have you ever gotten home from grocery shopping and thought, “Yup, I bought the right amount of food for a person to be healthy and sustained?” No, you haven’t. (If you have, you’re either lying to yourself or are part of the 0.0001% of people who don’t need to read this column). Many of you haven’t even been to the grocery store since starting Georgetown. And those of us who have done so somehow always forget the almond milk and neglect to check if the eggs were expired while we are still in the store. It’s so simple, and yet a core foundation of adulting still seems to elude us.
From what we can tell, there are basically two kinds of grocery shopping. The first is dishonest grocery shopping, which is the kind of shopping where you glide into Safeway, canvas bags in hand, ready to buy things our moms would be proud to feed us. We’re talking actually bringing your cart into the produce section. We’re talking smelling some lettuce as if you have any idea what you’re looking for. We’re talking buying Le Croix instead of the 12-pack of Natty Light that’s perpetually on sale. Just as the kale chips stack up in your cart, so too do the lies.
There’s no reason to be ashamed. We’ve all been tricked by our inner Instagram model who has her s—t together and lives on a beach somewhere consuming a strictly smoothie-based diet. We’ve all convinced ourselves that, from now on, we’re only going to reach for the apples we’ve bought instead of the flaming hot Cheetos so readily available at Vital Vittles.
The problem with listening to your inner Instagram model is that the you that exists in Safeway at 2 p.m. is in no way the same you that exists at 2 a.m. in Lauinger Library. She’s no match for your inner toddler who once dreamed that adulthood would mean daily consumption of M&Ms and not much else. She’s not with you when you need a muffin from More Uncommon Grounds to survive that 9 a.m. “Intensive French” lecture. She’s certainly not with you when your roommate sexiles you on Friday night, and pizza becomes your lone companion. So, blame this produce-centric version of yourself when your bank account is drained and you’re stuck with moldy raspberries of shame.
Thankfully, this kind of grocery shopping is inherently time-sensitive. We only really do this after making new year’s resolutions, the week before spring break or when the “freshman 15” turns into the freshman 35.
The same can’t be said for the second kind of grocery shopping — the honest kind. Honest grocery shopping sneaks up on you, only appearing after you realize your fridge has been empty for three weeks and you have a surprise free hour because Carol Rogers mercifully cancelled her Macro lecture.
All of a sudden, you find yourself in the charming aisles of Trader Joe’s just throwing frozen pizza into your cart at top speed so you can get back to watching Netflix like a real American. Microwave Indian food? One less thing to figure out how to cook and ultimately burn. Cookies cleverly disguised as organic that are really off-brand Oreos? You need those. Your inner toddler is cackling. They’re steering the cart, and you’re just along for the ride. Little miss Instagram model is nowhere to be found; she only comes out to sulk later as you shamefully overfill your freezer with pizza and microwave dinners.
Both Instagram model and inner toddler have some insight to share, though. Real adult grocery habits are found somewhere in between these college shopping routines. Think of it this way: At some point when we were kids, we did realize that eating the green stuff on your plate didn’t have to be a chore. Did that mean we loved chocolate milk less? Absolutely not, but we learned the valuable lesson that there is room in our hearts — and stomachs — for both Lucky Charms and broccoli. So too is there room in our carts. Just as we learned how to eat as toddlers, embracing the fruit bowl as well as the cookie jar, it seems we must do it again with grocery shopping as college students.
Molly Cooke and Marina Pitofsky are seniors in the College. This is the first installment of their summer column, Adventures in Adulting.