4 Reasons We Fear Adulthood and How to Embrace It

Posted on - in Culture & Communication
how to enjoy being an adult

Are you bad at adulting too? When exactly does one become an adult, anyway? Is it when you start college, get your first full-time job or have your first child? Adulthood once meant freedom during your teenage years. When you finally get freedom, most of the time you feel like giving it back.

Adulting suddenly becomes serving out some cruel sentence of bill-paying and parentifying everyone around you. Who’s supposed to remind you to wash your hair and brush your teeth?

It’s like waking up in the most terrifying Goosebumps book yet. If anyone knew how to properly adult, that book would be sold out. There are many reasons why adulthood is feared, and so many more reasons to embrace that fear. Here are four.

1. Realizing No One Has Their Life Together Is Freeing and Terrifying

You’re sitting in a coffee shop and overhear a proper-looking adult complain about what seems like high school drama. Suddenly, you feel better about your own life. What happened to this person?

Growing up is about your ability to constantly redefine who you are because you are constantly changing. There will be ups and downs. There will be situations that challenge the belief systems you were raised with, but these situations will offer new perspectives.

Yet, there is beauty in the struggle of finding out what getting your life together means for you. Sometimes it means putting the milk in the cabinet instead of the fridge. Sometimes it’s the fact that you’re paying for your own health insurance. It’s good to have goals, but there’s no order of operations to life. Establish what security in life means to you, and let your heart take risks.

2. Your Heart’s Constantly Breaking and Then Swelling Two Sizes

Physical or emotional separation from the security of family leaves a void, even if those familial bonds were not the healthiest. The relationship with your parents is a primal bond that takes years to understand as you age and experience more in life. That absence may lead you to form a dependency on others for the same kind of love, the same type of patterns. You get rescued or become the rescuer. So is love real or just combinations of chemicals in the brain?

Love becomes a multifaceted crystal with sharp, reflective and beautiful facets. It becomes more refined every time your heart breaks and every time it swells with the potential of love.

Potential may just be potential, though, and your partner or friend may not be where you are. It will hurt, but love for yourself and that person will move you forward, even if that path is separate. Humans are social creatures, and family ties, friendships and partnerships provide safety and connection. Yet they also challenge and enrich perceptions of the self and how you relate to others.

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3. Freedom to Choose What to Do With Your Body, Health, Faith and Lifestyle

Even with your whole life before you, there is only so much you can do with the future when you feel boxed in as a child. The rules of your parents, extended family, teachers and other authority figures should be guidelines for your safety and development. However, depending on your upbringing, these standards could have hindered your expression and understanding of who you are becoming.

The vast space of the future before you is suddenly there and imposing, and it has no rules or guidelines. Get your first or fiftieth tattoo. Become Buddhist, Pagan or Christian. Your well-being will suffer if you believe you should be punished because of negative spiritual beliefs. Love who you want to love, and more importantly love yourself for your daring. It’s okay to be afraid of choice, but focusing on loss does not lead to freedom and happiness.

4. The Struggle of Answering to No One, Yet Answering to Everyone

Sometimes life will become too tiring. It will take what effort you have left to not give into moving through life like a zombie. Dreaming will become hard work in the face of responsibilities. The most powerful lesson you will learn will be when to say “yes” and how to say “no.”

Demands will take up your time, and many will be rewarding — such as becoming a parent. Your child will also make you aware of your unresolved needs from childhood. Answering to yourself becomes challenging, especially when you have no real answers to the big questions. It’s about living and learning to appreciate the questions.

Life will often feel like being on a small raft in the Bermuda Triangle with no boat in sight. Yes, you have to remind yourself to brush your teeth.

Your heart has been broken, and it will be broken again. You are so afraid, yet you are so brave, with every single choice you make, even if that choice feels irrelevant in the moment. Always remember when you feel doubt, there is nothing insignificant about your life or who you are.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

2 Comments

  1. Kay

    The first one is one that really gets me thinking.

    One time I heard a close friend of mine giving the story of his life. He spoke with complete confidence about how every decision he made was carefully planned with intentional transitions from one area to another. The thing is, I was friends with him most of that time and looking back I can remember those carefully planned transitions looking a whole lot more like he was stumbling forward.

    I get the impression that’s how most “adults” talk about their life. Looking back everything makes sense to them but looking forward they’re just as confused as a young person wondering what they want to do with their life.

    3 years ago
    • Kayla Matthews

      Wow – that’s very insightful, Kay! I really appreciate your take on that situation. I think it’s the same line of thought as “it will all make sense in the end.” It’s interesting to see how we interpret struggles and events later in life.

      3 years ago

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