According to the notorious Urban Dictionary, “adulting” is a verb that means “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals.” But they add this caveat: “exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.” Translation: Adulting makes plenty of people anxious. If you’re one of them, you can take solace in not being alone.
Simply put, growing up is challenging — now more than ever. It is inevitable that you will feel anxious about it at times. A major step is to accept this normal tendency while learning the skills you’ll need to productively move forward into adulthood.
A Few Reasons Why Adulting Can Feel Scary
Almost always, adults have way more responsibilities and obligations. Their lives are busier and there is a much smaller margin for error. If that doesn’t give you pause, you’re not paying attention.
Separation anxiety is real. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your parents, you may fear losing the security of the family. Being an adult means a higher potential for loneliness. Also, it means less immediate support for all the new duties touched on above.
Death anxiety is real, too. The transition from child to teen to adult means, of course, that time is passing. You may feel anxious about losing the people in your life. That anxiety can also be triggered by you losing the innocence of childhood. In addition, as you age, you accumulate more meaning in your life. This is great but it also symbolizes that you have more to lose.
How to Ease the Anxiety of Adulting
Again, Recognize That You Are Not Alone
Sticking with the theme of this post, let’s reiterate that adulting anxiety is not a sign that you are uniquely flawed. It is a sign that you are human. Practice patience and self-compassion. No one said adulting would be easy. This part of modern life and you will find your way!
You will get plenty of advice urging you to make practical choices. There is some value in this, of course, but — through it all — move toward your passions. This is your life. You do not have to follow society’s blueprint. So, pay close attention to whatever brings you joy. What makes you lose track of time when you do it? And remember: You can fail at the “practical” option, too. Therefore, if life is fraught with risks, why not focus on that which lights you up?
Connect With Others
Find ways — in person and online — to interact with folks in your age range to share stories, doubts, plans, and more. Don’t hide away if you feel ashamed of what you see as slow progress. Open up and create a community. Surrounding yourself with peers is a chance to grow, learn, network, and evolve. It is how ideas are formed and nurtured.
Talk With an Expert
I’m not talking about a career expert (although that might help). I’m suggesting you reach out for counseling. There are many valid reasons why you are struggling to achieve independence. Some of these reasons might be tough to talk about. In a therapy setting, it is easier to share and be vulnerable. The more you explore your underlying patterns, beliefs, blockages, and dreams, the more capable you can become as an adult.
There is no magic formula to adulting. However, committing to therapy sessions positions you to develop the skills you need to thrive. If adulting has you stressed, I invite you to set up a free and confidential consultation at your earliest convenience for anxiety treatment. Let’s tackle this transition together!