No One Taught Us How to Navigate Early Adulthood

Written by Madison Klein

Are you struggling to navigate early adulthood, juggling a job, possibly school or recent graduation, longing for a fulfilling social life, all while feeling constantly exhausted and craving rest? You’re not alone. Many of us are in the same boat.

It’s common to feel overwhelmed in early adulthood, especially when societal expectations loom large. I would be remiss not to mention the current state of the economy and the pandemic we experienced. However, I don’t necessarily believe that earlier generations didn’t go through these similar feelings and emotions.

Leaving the education system can feel liberating yet daunting. Suddenly, we’re expected to make major life decisions without the guidance we’re accustomed to. It’s a scary transition, but also an opportunity for growth.

Receiving comments from older generations like “I sure don’t miss being at that stage of life” is always helpful (kidding). But nonetheless, a nice reminder, that this wasn’t a breeze for them either. This just solidifies that so many others before us experienced similar feelings as well.

As someone who still doesn’t have this all figured out yet, here are a few reflections I have for me and you:

The Overwhelming Reality of Early Adulthood

Want the truth here? It is what it is. However, the beauty as well as the unfortunate reality of this is that all we can do is learn as we navigate this journey. Accept the ups and downs of this phase. Take it one day at a time.

Navigating Life’s Expectations

In an effort to have our sanity, trash the expectations. We are no longer going from grade to grade with the same set of peers. We are all on our own paths and everyone’s path is unique. Work to let go of societal expectations and comparisons.

Breaking Away from the Education System

I feel it is fair to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the educational system. Most of us likely spent the majority of our childhood and adolescence at school, and it still may not have prepared us for many aspects of adult life. While education certainly provides valuable knowledge and skills, there’s also room to acknowledge its limitations in equipping us for the complexities and challenges of adulthood.

The Weight of Decision-Making

Here’s the deal, you won’t know until you try it. Embrace trial and error. You won’t know that the job wasn’t a good fit until after you try it. The bright side here is that nothing is a waste or a regret when you learn from it. Take those bad experiences and use them to better yourself moving forward! After that one terrible job experience you’ll recognize the red flags in your next interview. Every experience, good or bad, is a chance to learn and grow.

Finding Solace in Shared Experience

Lean on friends and peers. Share your experience and what you are going through. We are so quick to assume we are the only person in our bubble experiencing something, when in reality that is typically not the case. Be the one that opens up the door to sharing and supporting each other. Sharing experiences fosters support and understanding, bringing so much comfort.

As we come to a close, it’s clear that the journey through early adulthood is all over the board with varying emotions and experiences. From navigating the balancing act of work and personal life to the daunting task of making life-altering decisions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But amidst the chaos, there’s solace in knowing that we’re not alone. The struggles we face are shared by many others who have walked this path before us.

And while there’s no roadmap for navigating this phase of life, there’s beauty in the uncertainty and growth that comes with each step forward. So, let’s continue to embrace the challenges, learn from our experiences, and lean on each other for support. After all, it’s in our shared journey that we find strength and resilience. Here’s to embracing the journey of early adulthood, one day at a time.