Must read advice: Adulting for Success!
A beautiful young woman, who has always been a daughter to me, gave me this brilliant topic for a new blog. Heather is a young adult who is learning who she is and where she is going in life. This is a common situation that most young adults find themselves in after high school ends. Friendships change, money becomes incredibly important, you may be working and looking at post-secondary education, apartments, choices, and options are everywhere. Your head spins with delight and utter terror.
Family and friends repeatedly ask you “What are you doing with your life?” and you don’t have an answer. You don’t even know where to start!
Before I share the most important tips to finding your way and enjoying the journey, let me start with some realities:
1.High school does NOT prepare you for real life! You now know how to write an essay, do crazy and impossible-to-apply math equations, you can juggle opening your locker while holding a day’s worth of school books and forge your parents signature BUT you don’t know how to manage crooked landlords, apartments that have 6 and 40 legged squatters, sleazy car salespeople that promise you bought a great ride for you to spend 1000$ a week later. You are not prepared for overly demanding bosses, angry customers that flip out when you use too much butter on their bagel or roommates that don’t clean their mess and spy on your “alone” time with your partner. The list goes on. Adulting is terrifying!
2.You have no idea how many amazing and wonderful adventures you will have. Unless you have already travelled the world, you likely have no idea of how many people, in the “adulting” world, you will meet that will teach you things you couldn’t imagine. New cultures, new experiences and a myriad of new vicarious learning opportunities will be all around you to expand your mind and re-create a new “world”. There is “sexiness” everywhere! The freedoms of choice, creativity and exploration is far beyond the walls of high school. Soak it up! Adulting is exhilarating!
3.Adulting seems impossible…but isn’t. Yes, you are unprepared. No, you dont have a clue of who you are in the adult world. You look at some of the adults you know and are sure you will be an idiot like them. There are too many bills, anxiety-producing situations, scary people and chances for failures. But, there are dreams, goals and choices outside of high school drama, conformity, cliques and boring teachers.
4.Lastly, You have support! You may have wonderful parents or parent that is rooting for you, a large group of got-your-back friends, grandparents who are sharing “their-day” stories and siblings watching your every move, encouraging you on-ward. Or you may have….you. You are your support system and with that you can access the plethora of amazing community groups who are ready to be your safety-net for your journey, be your mental-health coach when it all seems to much and to provide you with services that will get you on your way. Read about and learn compassion. Self-compassion first. Soak it up. Believe in it. Compassion for others. Feel it. Practice it daily.
5.This article applies to you! It does not matter your age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, eye color, family background, income level, this is for you. It does not matter if you have disabilities, mental illness, a young child, a cat with a missing ear, this is for you! Get my point? You, no matter who you are, can benefit from this advice.
Now, the fun part! The advice you’ve been waiting for…. So, I am an adult….now what?
Super hero? Artist? Who are you?
Explore who you are as an “Adult”. You gave away your Hello Kitty backpack and changed your Justin Bieber fb profile pic to a mature photo of you in business clothes or in eye-glasses (That you don’t really need). But who are you? Close your eyes and vision all the things in your life. Maybe you like to write, decorate, paint, sing, do sports, help others, teach kids, blow things up, put things together, figure things out, serve coffee to addicts. Whatever you like to do…vision it. Which ones makes you feel excited? Give you tingly feelings and a sense of happiness? Write those ones down. Explore them. Expand on them. These are your passions. Follow them. Include your sexuality, who you are as a partner. Go confidently forward with your true self!
Look at all you are learning about yourself! Great Job!
Politics? Injustice? What makes you tick? Do you follow current events and have joined the I-hate-Trump-and-Trudeau band wagons? Where do you stand on raising the minimum wage? Do you care? Do you want to fight for people with disabilities or keeping the streets clean of drugs? Or maybe what makes you tick is closer to home. Maybe you want to be the best parent you can be, reach children through teaching and mentoring. Possibly you want to stay behind the scenes and create a cure for Fibromyalgia or Alzheimer’s. No matter the topic, something gets you heated. Something fills you with energy and action. Be sure to intertwine your passions with your worldly concerns. If you love writing and get raging mad over the textbooks used in school; write a new one. If computers are a huge part of your world and you despise the violent nature of video games; make a new one. If you adore working with children but can’t imagine dealing with the policies surrounding foster care and social service; don’t go for a degree in social work OR do go for that degree and change the system. Investigate the compatibility between your passions and your furies to set yourself up for success.
You can feel your trepidation being replaced by excitement, can’t you?
Crystal Ball time. What do you want in your future? This one is tough. It is hard to look ahead and see what could be as life is ever changing. However, if you again, visualize yourself in different roles, you will “feel” what could be right and what could be wrong. See yourself as a parent. Do you want kids, ever? before age 25? If so, that may complicate a goal of being a Doctor or Lawyer. Which feels more important? Do you want to date and be open to a long-term relationship right away? You may not want to plan to move across the country after you start dating. Maybe you want a huge ranch house, with horses, fields away from the city. You may not want a 9-9 job downtown with a long drive home. Possibly you want to be rich and have 10 million bucks saved by retirement. You likely want to go to University and get a PhD. Your dreams for the future are important. What you can and can’t see yourself doing in 5, 10 or 50 years must be a huge factor in your choices along the way. Keep your long-term goals in front of you and plan the short-term goals needed to reach your destination.
Stop for a moment. Breath. Again. Good. Continue…
Can you fly? Trip over thin air? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Be honest! No good comes from seeing yourself as a superhero with magical powers. But even worse happens when you cut yourself short. Be realistic but true. You are great at many things and you suck at other things. If you are squeamish at the sight of blood and have bad hand-eye coordination, don’t become a surgeon. If you despise loud screaming, bodily fluids and stepping on lego, don’t work with children. Maybe you have a knack for delving into the human psyche and could be a great Psychologist, math is our thing and being an accountant thrills you. Fit it together like a puzzle. Do your passions fit your personality with your skills? I bet they can. Explore that.
Coming all together now. You are forming some great dreams now!
Now that you have a vision or many visions of who you are as an adult let’s apply it. As you learned from high school, knowing and doing are two separate things! Here is some crucial advice to configuring the new you, the you that you are becoming, to the world around you.
Stay diligently connected to your family!
Unless you have a terrible, toxic, abusive or non-existent family, you need them in your life. They want what’s best for you despite the crappy ways they show it. You may feel fearless and a strong urge to be all independent and feisty, and that’s a good thing, but you still need the people in your life who have loved and supported you from the days you were messing in your diaper until now and onward. You have learned from them for your entire life and you will continue to do so. Whether you need advice for an upcoming date, exam, your first homemade turkey, assembling instructions for your furniture-in-a-box or medical history when you end up in the ER from partying too hard; you need your family. And they need you! Branch out but don’t run away. Stretch but don’t severe that umbilical cord. It may feel like its strangling you but it’s a life-line too. This goes the same for true, supportive friends. They have seen you at your worst and will stay beside you for all that is to come.
Feeling all warm and fuzzy? You should be.
Pay attention to your mental and physical health! This one is super important. You can’t get a career, family and more if your sick or dead! It is easy to get wrapped up in your crazy, new world. There are parties with booze, drugs and sex. There are venues for an adrenaline rush everywhere you go. Sleep is for the weak and food comes from a paper bag. I get it. But! Your body can take a beating but it is not designed as a regular punching bag. Use common sense! Use caution! If it doesn’t feel right…don’t do it. If it does feel right…think about it again. You have heard the lectures and stories; alcohol and drugs can kill, condoms break, tires skid out and so on. Think about the risks, is it worth it? If the worst thing that could happen, did happen, would it be worth it then? If I were you (and I was), I would sleep, eat relatively healthy, stay away from things that could hurt me or end my life and I would take care of the only body I have for the next 80 years. Make sense?
Being healthy isn’t always straight forward. Mental health is complex. Love yourself. Remember the list of characteristics that make you…you? Love them. Love your rolls, stringy hair, flat chest, small muscles, lack of facial hair, quirks, idiosyncrasies. You are you. Just love it. Remind yourself every day that you are an important person. You are worth it. You have a future. You are amazing. Don’t compare yourself to others. Stand up for who you are. Change and grow but not for others. Go with your gut. If your gut tells you that person you went on a few dates with isn’t really treating you the way you hoped…listen! And move on. Be your own advocate! Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, worries and fears. If they scare you…talk to someone! Maybe you have things in your mind or body that make you feel different. You are not like the average person. You have special needs or disabilities. Ok. So, things will take some tweaking. You may need extra supports and accommodations. Guess what? Everyone is different. We all have special needs, some visible, some not. You matter the same. All the above still applies. Why wouldn’t it? You are amazing! Your mental health is important and so are you!
Let’s take a few steps more…
Straighten your shoulders, chin up. You got this!
Let go… It is time to do a whole lot of letting go. Let go of your fear and replace it with excitement. Let go of anchors: bad friends, bad significant others, and bad attitudes. Replace them with new friends, new dating prospects, and new positive beliefs. Let go of the weight on your shoulders; the weight of negativity, the weight of criticisms, the weight of a troubling past, and the weight of prior mistakes. Take a few steps forward… feel lighter. Walk on to the new world.
Ask questions…and lots of them. Ask your parents, extended family, older friends, older siblings, your member of parliament, a career counsellor, therapist, lady feeding the birds on the corner… just ask questions. No question is a stupid question! You have a lot to learn. Learn from others. Listen to the advice then decide how to act.
Give it all you got! Maybe you are in an entry level banking job but really want to be a fashion designer. Maybe you are driving a backhoe when you really want to be a youth counsellor. Despite what you are doing right now, do it right. Give it your best. Learn from it. Make connections, pay bills, explore options and make friends. Every job is a stepping stone to better. Set yourself up for success by planning how you will succeed, overcoming obstacles and using common sense.
Wondering how you can do it all? I bet you are.
Finally…. find balance! Balance is tough. Prioritizing seems fruitless when you feel like taking on the world. You want it all now. I do to. Organize your time. Write to-do lists and read them daily. Mix practicality with ambition. Give yourself you time. Schedule it in. Literally. There is only 24 hours in a day…but there are 365 days in a year. You will get there. Sometimes you must put the boring stuff first and sometimes you don’t. Finding balance is nothing more than prioritizing for the long term, satisfying the short term and accepting that is the way it is.
I hope you have found some great tips in this post. I really do want you to succeed and you can succeed.
Keep checking back for more great “adulting” posts.
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Have a fantastic day being you!
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