Becoming an adult is rife with both uncertainty and adventure. The concept of being an adult is always in flux, and these days it’s hard to tell when adulthood is upon you. Culture, religion, socioeconomic status, and family situations may all impact and blur the lines between childhood and adulthood. No one sends you a complimentary toaster to let you know you have “joined the club,” and for many people, there is no one experience that affirms the acquisition of adult status.
In truth, adulthood is a process, not just a state you wake up in one day. For those of you who are just leaving behind adolescence, you probably bring a host of assumptions to this process that may or may not ease the transition into this new phase of life.
1. If I don’t feel like an adult, I must not be one.
Employment, paying the bills, driving, having a child—while all of these responsibilities are significant milestones, you might still have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not quite there. In reality, adulthood isn’t just about a set of responsibilities or accomplishments. Rather, it is more of a conscious effort to be aware of your strengths and challenges and a dedication to being the best version of yourself you can be. It is accepting that you will falter, but that you owe it to yourself to keep going.
2. I can’t have a life if I become an adult.
3. I have to be in a relationship to be happy.
Sharing your life with someone can offer an additional layer of security and support that may improve your sense of well-being. But relationships—just like any important decision—should be entered into wisely. Gauge your emotional readiness to be a partner. If you are not ready to commit wholeheartedly, this does not make you less of an adult; in fact, it takes great maturity to be honest with yourself about your ability or willingness to balance relationship needs with your own. You also need to be aware of your intentions when you begin a relationship. Ask yourself if you are looking for your partner to make you happy, diminish your loneliness, or bolster your ego. None of these will lead to healthy, adult relationships. On the other hand, if you understand that you are solely responsible for developing into a whole independent human being, you might be ready to share your life with another.
4. I’ll know I’m an adult when I have it all figured out!
Because there isn’t a definitive moment you become an adult, there is also no definitive answer to the uncertainties that life brings to you. Embracing that you will encounter more questions than answers is the real wisdom here. Don’t wait for a magical day in the future when it will all make sense. Open yourself up to the rich and fulfilling experience of learning along the way.
5. I need to have it all figured out!
Because there isn’t a definitive moment you become an adult, there is also no definitive answer to the uncertainties that life brings to you. Embracing that you will encounter more questions than answers is the real wisdom here. You might worry that you must have a concrete plan in order to be a successful adult. You feel that lacking direction means you are failing at the adult game. Setting goals for yourself can be a valuable tool for making decisions and giving you a sense of security; however, life will offer detours in the form of unexpected opportunities and unfortunate obstacles. Learning how to tolerate uncertainty and how to adapt to changing situations is a big part of being an adult. And if you’re worried that you’re stuck in whatever plan you’ve made because nothing is going your way, remember that you can change your mind. You’re the architect of your path, so you can change it.
Adulthood involves growth, acceptance, and openness, and its meaning will transform as you develop new skills, form new relationships, and indulge in new experiences. Enjoy the impermanence and be present in every vital moment!
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.