The usual question
As a life coach for young adults, I question I often hear from 20-something young adults is: “How do I proceed from here?” Some of these young adults have just finished some kind of college or university, others have been working in various posts or enjoying gap years and internships, and, of course, some don’t know where to begin.
This is all familiar territory. First of all, in case you’re a young adult, let me tell you this kind of behavior is expected. Research has shown that at this age, struggles are real. In fact, young adults are more likely to experience difficulties than adolescents.
What are those struggles? Well, of course, it depends on the individual. But allow me to outline some of the most common ones below.
Lack of confidence
Why? Consider this. You are maturing from a hesitant adolescent to an adult who must make important decisions, express your opinions, socialize, and be self-sufficient. The stakes are high. It is only natural that you are feeling overwhelmed, and, as a result, you lack confidence in moving forward.
But fear not! This is a process that everyone goes through. “Knowing this isn’t going to help me at all,” you’re probably thinking. Of course not; after all, each of us has our own set of challenges to overcome. But have you considered the possibility that you already have the tools you need to succeed? Have you looked around for people to support you among your friends and family? There is no rule that says you have to go through all this on your own.
As outlined above, you are now expected to make many decisions. For example, will you go to college? Have you just graduated and are you looking for a job? Do you want to try out different industries before making a decision? Do you want to travel? How will you make ends meet?
If you read the above questions non-stop, you are bound to feel overwhelmed. “Dude, I’m not reading your article to panic,” I hear you cry. And you’re right!
This is all to emphasize that these are decisions that young adults BELIEVE they should make. Yes, we will encounter dilemmas. But we often make these demands in our heads. And sometimes, all it takes is realizing this and beginning to disassociate ourselves from our thoughts and irrational demands. Also, keep in mind that complex decision-making is not just for the young. Adults in their forties, fifties, sixties, and so on, also have to make important decisions. What they do, though, is take one step at a time. And this is often a wise choice.
No one expects you to know what you want to be at such a young age. Many people (including myself) re-evaluate their wants and needs, as well as their career choices, in their forties and fifties. You can volunteer, try out different career paths, be an intern, or travel. “And who’s going to pay the rent?” you’re probably wondering. Believe me, we’ve all struggled to pay our rent at some point in our lives. The thing is, almost everyone will tell you the same story: how they started from nothing or with a job to help them make ends meet and pay their rent while working on their side hustle.
Did you notice how I mentioned above that few people get their dream job in their twenties? How I also mentioned that even successful entrepreneurs lack social skills and have confidence issues? How people in their forties and fifties still struggle to make important decisions? Guess what: I’ll say the same thing here: some people claim to have discovered their identity in their senior years! “But I don’t want to wait!” I hear you cry. Well, I’m afraid you might have to in some cases.
You see, defining your identity isn’t something you can just do. It takes years of experience. Some people must go through various friendships, relationships, breakups, being fired from a job, finding a new job, traveling, and changing beliefs: In other words, just like your life purpose, your identity is a work in progress. Some people may read a book that will point them in the right direction, others may meet an influential person, and still others will simply go with the flow of life. You see, a wake-up call isn’t always necessary. You wouldn’t believe how many people want to change simply because they are unhappy with their current situation. This is where setting goals comes into play. This is where revisiting your past and establishing small actionable steps come in handy.
For many young adults, entering their twenties means leaving home. This, along with getting a job, represents their first big step toward independence. And what about those who would rather stay at home with their parents? That’s fine too. The fact that some people associate independence with moving away from home doesn’t mean that this is what is important for everyone. Not to mention the number of people who leave only to return home after a few years!
The point is that everyone values independence differently. And the desire to feel independent will most likely come sooner or later, and it may have nothing to do with where you decide to live.
There will be plenty of opportunities: As a young adult, you are often exposed to people and different personalities from diverse social groups. You have the opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances and form new social circles. Not to mention the chance to meet your new coworkers, adjust to new workplace expectations, and form all kinds of relationships!
In response to these new changes, you have something unique to offer: your authentic self. You may believe that there is a specific way to behave in order to succeed, but what you may not realize is that it is your unique personality that will help you navigate your way through these new realities. Sometimes, just being present as your authentic self, equipped with your skills, your charisma, and your ideas, is enough. And while we’re on the subject of skills, the following section should be of interest to you.
Revisit your skills
When was the last time you took a deep breath and examined your skill set? How many times did you have to overcome situations in your adolescence where you needed an extra boost of confidence? If you could do it when you were younger and less experienced, why should you give it up now that you are older and wiser?
It’s always a good idea to make a list of your talents and skills. Things you learned in childhood and adolescence. Lessons learned from life experiences, friendships, relationships, family, and school even!
The list serves two functions. First, simply reviewing your past accomplishments will reveal that you have some fantastic assets up your sleeve. Second, you’re going to put them into action.
If you aren’t going to use all of this power, what’s the point?
So there you have it! Yes, there are struggles a young adult needs to face. No, they’re not that different from the ones you’ll face later in life. And if you think that some changes are uncomfortable, take a step back and consider: “How many changes did you have to adjust to during your childhood and adolescence?” If you managed back then, there is no reason you won’t manage now.
Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash