Adulthood: When Will I Belong?

Despite having been considered part of it for three years now, adulthood still seems like an exclusive club that I don’t have access to. The end of university life is creeping ever closer and the reality of finding a job, moving out of the parents’ house and beginning a new chapter of my life is slowly sinking in. Things that I have been pushing to the back of my mind since before university began are suddenly staring me in the face and I’m still not prepared. 

As the feeling of dread rises to new levels, I ask myself: when will I feel like an adult?

Unfortunately, answering this question relies upon an understanding of what it means to be an adult. As a child, I thought that adults knew everything, could never be wrong and had their lives totally figured out. Obviously, I’m aware that this isn’t really the case. You only have to switch on the news to realise that being an adult doesn’t equate to these things. Instead, adulthood seems to be more about independence, handling responsibility and making tough decisions. University is the perfect place to equip anyone with all of these things, right? You live on your own for the first time, manage your time schedule by yourself and decisions come at you from all angles. Whether it’s about what essay topic you want to do, which modules you should pick or even whether to go on a night out or not; there is always something that needs to be decided. So why do I still feel unworthy of the elusive adult label? 

Perhaps it is my student status that is preventing me from making the mental leap into adulthood. I find myself looking at other people my age who didn’t go to university, who have now been in a full-time job for three years and are living on their own and wonder whether I would feel more like an adult if I didn’t go to university. 

Coursework deadlines and exams are certainly stressful, but they are quite distanced from real life concerns. There probably won’t be a time in my life after university where my biggest worry is whether I know enough about the traditions of Gothic literature. And yet, university does entail more than just academic stress. We do deal with ‘adult’ style worries, like how to afford rent or the weekly food shop, all the whilst juggling similar time commitments to a job just without the outcome of a pay slip. 

Maybe I don’t feel like an adult simply because I am reluctant to accept that I am one. Passing the age where we are legally considered adults, comes along with pressure to suddenly know how to live up to that label. But what does acting like an adult even look like? The concept itself probably takes on much more weight in our society than it really deserves. After all, adulthood is not a clear-cut stage of life. Some people will feel like adults before they turn eighteen whilst others may not reach this milestone until they are somewhere over the thirty mark. Thinking about it logically, worrying about feeling like an adult is not worth it. There is no secret pathway to adulthood that everyone must take and no clear-cut behaviour standards that we should suddenly live up to. It might be years before we really start to consider ourselves adults and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. 

So, to answer my original question, who knows when I will belong in adulthood. Could be in six months, could be in six years, I’ll just have to wait and find out. 

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