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The Reality Of Growing Up & Navigating Adulthood

When we were younger, growing up seemed so simple. Both time and progress appeared to be linear. We were expected to advance through each grade, graduate high school, attend some college and work towards a degree in which a job would be lined up for us when finally obtained it. As adults now, it is safe to say that life isn’t anywhere near as simple as it was once depicted to be. Plans fall through, goals change, tragedies happen. We as people, transform, transition and grow out of sync with the aforementioned societal expectations that were ingrained into our brains from adolescence.  [bf_image id="q5k2mv-bhzc28-6fxp8s"]

The rigid mold of that pre-established list of milestones has in one way or another, shaped our definition and image of what adulthood should look like. Many of us carry within ourselves the fear of straying from any aspect of that timeline. It is this expectation that is partly responsible for how often we compare ourselves to peers our age, whether that be academically, professionally, socially or romantically. As a result, the image of adulthood that we’ve created for ourselves when we were growing up is largely skewed. As more time passes, we begin to understand that there isn’t a right or wrong way to live life, so long as the objects of our pursuit bring us happiness. 

Speaking from personal experience, nothing I have planned for myself has ended up working out the way I envisioned. Some have changed, others have fallen through, but most of them have worked out better than I had imagined, and I’ve witnessed my peers go through the same thing. This is not to say that having a plan during early adulthood is a mistake, but more-so that navigating adulthood requires just as much flexibility as it does planning. No matter how much thought you put into those plans-- all the detailing and mapping out, down to the very specifics-- life has a way to shuffle them up in little ways every day. This is why I have learned that the most valuable skill to develop when you’re trying to conquer being an adult is adaptability. This goes hand in hand with patience, self-acceptance and humility. I’m still working on them every day, alongside everyone else, because one thing that adulthood doesn’t come with is an instruction manual. 

[bf_image id="q7jzin-eg6ibk-70czdl"] In childhood, we learned through anecdotes and rules. In adulthood, we learn through trial and error. Chaos is truly what helps us grow to become better versions of ourselves, both to others and ourselves. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, and even if they do, the next minute could change that. To me, the most comforting thing that has come from embracing the spontaneity of adult life is the knowledge that nothing is concrete. You could wake up tomorrow and reinvent yourself if you wanted to. Because who’s truly to say what you should be doing with your life except for you?

Shannon Mia Vo is a third-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Disability Studies. This is her second year writing for UCLA's chapter of Her Campus, and her first year as Assistant Director of Editorial, so she is excited to learn as she goes. Shannon loves to write and believes that words are an essential catalyst for storytelling, education, advocacy, and expression. When she isn't writing, she can be found crafting, rewatching her favorite sitcoms, working out, or browsing through booktok!
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