Overcoming the Burdens of Becoming an Adult

Becoming an adult isn’t easy. Young adults have to take on so much so quickly. Here’s a list, each with a suggestion that might make it easier.

Retaining motivation regarding work and recreation

This can be hard, even very hard. My best suggestion is to ever ask yourself, “What would The Wise One within me do?” When sad or under the influence, summoning that Wise One is particularly important and, yes, particularly difficult.

Managing physical or mental health issues on your own

Your parent may well have insisted that you see your health practitioner or take your medication. Now, it’s on you. Would the Wise One within you ritualize that, for example, schedule regular Zooms with your counselor, or take your medication right before breakfast (if that’s when it’s supposed to be taken.)

Individuating without unreasonably rejecting your parent’s advice

For time immemorial, young adults have tended to dismiss parents’ advice: “They just don’t understand.” And sometimes you’re right. But think of yourself as the Don (the big boss) in The Godfather. Even he had consiglieri (advisors.) Sometimes, he took their advice, other times he rejected it. He did so on the merits. You could do worse that, in considering your parents’ advice, to be like the Don.

Choosing a career direction

This can be less complicated than is often thought. You’ll have done a better job than do most people by simply scanning the indexes of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is free online, or my not-quite free Careers for Dummies. Each of them profiles more than 300 careers. Read a few that intrigue you. For any that remain interesting, check out the additional resource at the end of each profile.

Taking steps in preparing for your career

Take courses that would be career-relevant. Ask professors permission if, instead of the assigned paper or project, you could do one that is more relevant to your prospective career. Seek out internships and co-op education, which can be launchpads for your career.

Managing your money

It’s tempting to spend, especially as a young person. It’s easy to see those $12 drinks, $50 dinners, expensive ski trips, and new clothes as the price of a social life and an exercising of your new freedom. It’s especially tempting if you have a credit card. Am I sounding too much like an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy to assert that, with the kinds of people you want to befriend, big spending is unnecessary? Discerning people will just as welcome a walk, an on-campus low-cost concert, or going out for ice cream.

Exerting special care before saying or writing something that could be offensive

We live in hypersensitive times. Think twice before saying anything that could reasonably offend. It’s rarely worth it.

Not prematurely marrying

Infatuation can blind you to whether you should spend the rest of your life with your partner. It can be tempting to go fast but, for what it’s worth, I urge you to go slow and see what s/he’s like after a few months when infatuation’s fog will at least have started to lift.

The takeaway

Advice usually engenders resistance, especially in young adults, but perhaps because it’s coming from someone other than your parent, you’ll view it as outside counsel, Don.

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