BEWARE: Adulting May Not Meet Expectations

Comic: I'm more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles

For many, we longed to be an “adult” from early childhood, seeking freedom from restrictions imposed “for our own good” by well-intentioned adults (namely our parents and teachers). However, perhaps what we’re seeking is simply agency to determine our own life’s course

But, two years into college, now on the cusp of assuming responsibility for their lives, but somewhat novice at being adult, 20-ish year olds often review their “Life’s To Do” list (not listed in any particular order): 

  • Get married 
    • (Possibly answered with: “Oh, crap, I don’t have a partner in sight…or oh, crap, this current partner is not The One…”)
  • Be adult (OMG, whatever that means, with crickets chirping in the background) 
  • Choose a career (usually spurred by having to “declare a major” at the halfway point of a college career)
    • Again possibly answered with: “Oh, no, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up…or…Oh, no, what I want to be won’t pay ANY money, my parents won’t approve…”)

However, lacking objective counsel and under the duress of “having to” pick, many 20 year olds, spin the roulette wheel of majors, pick the one that seems most reasonable, often creating a false sense of confidence. They can unwittingly set the expectation that “this is who I’m going to be” or “career I’m going to have” then desperately attempt to contort themselves into such a box.

20 year olds, assuming the moniker of “adulting” can be confusing, thus stressful, as defining “the rest of my life” or life’s purpose, requires confidence in aptitude. However, knowing one’s aptitude not only requires experience, but self-reflection often strengthened in ongoing conversations with mentors. 

And, yet, 20 year olds are likely to turn to social media, random Googling, or each other for guidance—not exactly the most reliable sources for such critical life decisions. While parents with their earned wisdom fired in the kiln of life experience may be more credible advisors, beginner adults just released from teenage protective custody, and believing they are ready for adulthood, may resist asking mom and dad for counsel. 

Additionally, many 20 year olds are also managing their own and others’—parents are the big number one in this category— expectations, what they and others, like their parents, believe is right living. And, if their and their parents’ expectations conflict then 20 year olds are less incentivized to seek their parents, or anyone for that matter, counsel. 

Furthermore, often 20 year olds can’t quite address their concerns, as they are reluctant to even voice their concerns, fearing they’re the only ones amongst their peers, who are struggling to define their life’s course, including a career.  

Thus, objective counsel can help them sort out what’s simply neurotic noise and what’s more true. Otherwise, 20 year olds may unwittingly settle, seeking the seeming stability of “knowing the direction of the rest of my life”, and then one day years later, wake up to the regret of not having been true to themselves. 

And, that would be a tragedy, especially if no one understands.


To learn more how experts at Creative Marbles Consultancy, a full service educational advisory, help students of any age resolve complex educational concerns, click creativemarbles.com

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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