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The Emerging Adult blog series

For June into July we are going to follow the theme of independence and aim our blogs at a series based on launching and independence of late teens and young adults, often called emerging adults. We will start with overviewing what makes this age range unique, then move into to importance of developing strong emotional, behavioral and relationship skills at this age, and continue into the mixture of excitement and anxiety that comes with taking those steps into an independence. Whether that means moving out strait out of high school, heading off to college, living at home as a young adult while building independence, or starting a post college career.  We hope to help build additional resources for these young people as well as the family systems they are a part of.

Though summer is in full swing, our 2020 high school seniors as well as other young people may be preparing for and anxiously awaiting the start of their first semester in college. Whether they will be living on campus or not in the Fall, this milestone provides a lot of challenges as well as opportunities for growth. Furthermore, the circumstances due to COVID-19 has changed the landscape of what the college or new job market experiences may look like for the Fall and indefinitely. No one anticipated these changes and it is normal for young people to feel short-changed when it comes to their expectations of their college experiences and next chapters in their lives. Having to make adjustments is a reality that doesn’t seem fair.

Who Is an Emerging Adult?

Though some people in their 40s may still not feel as though they are fully adults yet, the term “emerging adult” usually refers to people around and between the ages of 18-25. It is the traditional and typical college student age, as many people find that this is the time that they attend college or embark on other types of training to prepare them for a field of work they are interested in, or are struggling to find employment that can help them make ends meetSome may even be already raising children of their own. The hallmark of this stage in development, whatever the specific are of someone’s life, is a move toward independence and solidifying one’s identity.  

What Happens During the Emerging Adult Life Stage?

What Can I Expect as a young adult? 

Everyone is different, but some common occurrences during this stage of life is feeling in limbo. You may not feel completely ready to launch out on your own, but you definitely don’t feel like you need to be told what to do anymore. You may find yourself annoyed with your parents/engaging in a push pull dynamic as they try to guide you while also “letting go” of the reigns a bit. This is normal.  

Other pieces of emerging adulthood to keep in mind:

  • Negotiating family responsibilities
  • Feelings of instability
  • Independence
  • Ambivalent feelings about being an adult
  • Multiple role changes
  • Identity exploration
  • Many possibilities/directions to choose from
  • Intimacy
counseling vulnerable population

You may feel a conflict between branching out on your own and maintaining important family connections, regardless of if you plan to engage in higher education. You may feel within yourself that you want your own space to create your own rules and experiment with this whole independence thing. All of this is normal. You’ll likely spend time thinking about who you are, what you stand for, and what you would like to put your energy toward. This is also a time of engaging in relationships and establishing intimacy (whether romantic or through close friendships). Engaging in relationships helps you learn more about yourself as well as recognizing what you want or don’t want in a partner or friend.

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Helpful Starter Tips 

Though later blogs in this series will go more in to detail about emotional intelligence, relationships, and other important things related to “adulting,” below are some helpful tips to add to your “adulting starter kit.”  

Keys to start successful adulting experiences

  • Procrastination is not your friend
  • Ask people questions
  • Engage in self-reflection

Procrastination is not your friend

Though you may have prided yourself on doing assignments last minute in high school and getting an A, you may have a rude awakening that this doesn’t work so well in other areas of life. College professors will likely be much less accommodating and understanding if you turn things in late or with typos. Transitions are often a tad bit easier if you plan for and prepare for them. What might this look like? If you are starting college in a new town in the Fall, try to visit the area a few times before you go. Look up where the pharmacy is, how to get to the Walmart, and check your cell signal!  If you can’t visit the campus, at least find out where the closest grocery store is, if the campus has a bus system; as well as other daily essentials. That way, it’ll be less overwhelming and you won’t be figuring all these things out at once.

Ask people questions

You don’t have to go through transitions alone. Try to ask questions. Connect with people who may be headed in the direction that you want to go. Get support from friends that are going through what you are as well. If it is difficult to do this and you have access to the internet, you’ll likely be able to find some forums where people are talking about precisely how you are feeling. Reach out to teachers, extended family, friends, any trusted people in your life to process what is coming up for you so you can make the best decisions for yourself.

emotional transitions into adulthood

Engage in self-reflection

This is a time when decisions likely have to be made. Engaging in self-reflection will help with this. You may feel like there is a conflict between what you want to do and what is expected of you. It is no easy task to figure out what path to take, but spending some time with yourself and perhaps with a counselor can help you to reach the decision that feels best for you.

Ongoing Support

It is normal to feel anxiety about the future, particularly if you are planning to live without your parents for the first time. It can also be anxiety-inducing to have an empty nest! No matter what side of this transition you are on, extra support is available. Make an appointment with an Angelus therapist today to begin to process what thoughts and emotions are coming up for you and to create a wellness plan for yourself.

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