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The Stress of (Impending) Adulthood

Teens struggle with the thought of becoming an adult
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Kailie Sicolo
Many upperclassmen start feeling the effects of anxiety as the impending thought of adulthood weighs upon them. To overcome the perils of stress is a struggle in itself. “So many students think there is one path and that they have to figure out what that path is,” counselor Elizabeth Hare said. “I try to teach them that life is full of choices and not to be scared of them. We often learn through our mistakes and if we grow from those mistakes, they are lessons and not failures.”

Overcoming the feeling of anxiety leading up to the transition from childhood to adulthood is considered dreadful for many. High school graduates have to become independent, develop their own identity, and handle complex situations on their own. 

The transition to adulthood is “a process that brings childhood to an end and turns the individual into a young adult” according to the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute [MDPI]. Having spent the entirety of childhood reliant on the comfort of parental figures, the thought of growing up is quite overwhelming for students.

“It’s [adulthood] encroaching upon me,” junior Imani Verrett said. “I’m already 17 and I feel like I’m losing a lot of time because things went by so quickly that I feel like it’s just so much to take on all at once.”

“I know other people don’t get the same amount of preparation as I did, especially since some parents don’t tell their kids what to prepare for until it’s too late.”

— Rhianon Lai

Despite being influenced by peers, family, and media, students try to make decisions for themselves instead of conforming to what society has deemed is right. 

“I’m trying to figure out if college is the right path for me,” senior Clementina Gonzalez said. “My dad didn’t go to college, so he thinks that going somewhere to further your education is a waste unless you’re able to be successful and use that towards your future.”

This stress over decision-making doesn’t just concern success in life, but in family relationships and culture.

“Being the first person in my family that is trying to go to college is what stresses me out the most,” Gonzalez said. “My older siblings already have their stuff figured out and it’s pressuring me to do well because the only way I can pursue my dream is to attend college. I can’t be the only person in my family to go to college and end up failing at it, I have to succeed.”

How do students feel about transitioning to adulthood? by Kylie Chelise Dacquel

Aspects that do not concern school or further education also arise during this period of time.

“I’m not too worried about adulthood,” senior Rhianon Lai said. “But the one thing that I’m stressing about is money. Especially with inflation and all those extra costs like gas or utilities, it all adds up and without a stable income, it’s hard to move out and be able to support yourself.”

Levels of preparedness can be influenced by many factors and changes the course of how a student thinks about adulthood.

I didn’t realize how many challenges or roadblocks would arise.

— Imani Verrett

“It [family] does have a deeper part in why I feel so prepared,” Lai said. “I know other people don’t get the same amount of preparation as I did, especially since some parents don’t tell their kids what to prepare for until it’s too late.”

The span of four years passes by quickly and forces those who are unprepared to make decisions that affect the course of their life after high school.

“I didn’t realize how many challenges or roadblocks would arise,” Verrett said. “It really hit me late freshman year into sophomore year just how much little time I had as a high schooler.” 

There are many online resources that can be of help for any of the problems previously mentioned, like  guidebook  “Journey to Adulthood: A Transition Travel Guide,” developed by the Shriners Hospital for Children, Lexington. The book is designed for those transitioning into adulthood and addresses topics like transitioning from pediatric care to adult care, and shifting from attending school to full-time employment. 

Additionally, counselors are also willing to help those who are struggling with the thought of adulthood.

“Transitions are hard, but the counselors understand that and will work with any student that wants our help,” counselor Elizabeth Hare said. “I also talk about the grieving process with some. Students are saying goodbye to high school and childhood. They are probably going to be experiencing a lot of different emotions and that is okay.”

Taking action now, rather than later, is a solid way to start the transition.

“To freshmen specifically, I feel that you should try your best from the start,” Gonzalez said. “People might think that it doesn’t matter because it’s their freshman year, but it’s really the foundation for how well you’re going to do throughout high school. You have to go into high school with the same effort as you want to see when you graduate in senior year.”

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