Self-Discovery: Welcome to Adulthood!
Written By Sathsara Radaliyagoda
Who didn’t want to grow up faster when they were younger? I distinctly remember being around 7 years old and seeing my brother be a “cool” teenager getting to hang out with his high school friends and doing teenage-y stuff. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a teenager, yet what I failed to realise was that teenage-hood isn’t as picturesque as I had imagined.
Turning eighteen was always enchanting to me, I felt as though I would finally be released from the stressful, acne-driven, childish prison I had been living for 17 years. This age was a metaphorical key to everything adult, I could legally drink, I could vote, I could live by myself, I could do this and I could do that! There were endless possibilities all because the government decided that once someone turned 18 they were considered independent. Yet, I find myself still living at home (since I’ll be 81 by the time I can afford to live in Sydney), not going out and partying (because let’s be real, I have assignments to do) and living the same life I had been living since before this glorious age.
There has always been this stigma that young adults are not capable, that we are lazy and unrefined. The elderly look down on us while the children try and be like us, so then who are we? What are we? Am I a child or am I an adult? All these questions circle around our heads on a daily basis as we try and find ourselves in a world that doesn’t truly define who we are.
Since I still look about 12 no one believes I am actually 18, which is definitely disheartening – how can I legally be an adult but not be recognised as one when people look at me? I started to try and do things that I thought would make me seem like more of an adult – like drink coffee (because clearly that means I’m a grown-up).
On top of our identity crisis, we find ourselves drowning in all the work that comes with newfound adulthood. Stress levels are reaching new heights with assignments due every week, crazy, unmanageable work schedules and paying bills that we can no longer rely on our parents to pay. Something that was personally greatly comforting to me was that I was not the only one struggling to stay afloat. Scrolling through Twitter and Facebook deep into the night, I would find myself laughing at a myriad of relatable memes.
“So, I’m not alone!” I would think to myself hunched over my phone. This is an important lesson I have learnt since becoming an “adult”. Through this journey that is life I will never be alone because the feelings I am feeling have been felt time and time again. But wait? Does that mean I’m not unique?
*Cue existential crisis*
There are so many questions that go unanswered while you are trying to grow up! Not only are you trying to figure out you who are and where you stand in the world, but you are also struggling to understand the world itself. Being 18 years old in 2016 is already stressful, especially with an election going on this year. Having the right to vote is an all-powerful honour, since it means I am legally considered an adult, able to make life-changing decisions including who I want to govern the country. Yet, I’m still expected to play with the “children” when family friends come over…wait what?!
SO, what is my solution? What great advice can one confused, “teen-adult” give to another? Well if there’s anything I have learnt in my small time on this earth it’s this; there is no point in dwelling on things that are not in your control. You can’t change the fact that you might have features that make you look younger, but you can change the way you act so people know that you’re actually a mature adult. The hardest discovery I have to make on this journey is that emotions suck and you never want to dwell on them but they make you into a better person.
Stress is something that we all deal with – even animals experience varying levels of stress – and it’s about how we respond to this stress that both creates a level of maturity within ourselves but also lets us grow as people. Stress isn’t something you should fear, rather you should embrace your emotions and your stress and use them to your advantage. Emotions make you a better person, you become more empathetic and you’re able to understand how beautifully fragile humanity is.
So just remember, next time you’re stressed and confused about who you are and where you are in this world as an almost teen/almost adult, just remember that you are never alone in how you feel. Being treated like a child can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially when you’re already trying to grapple with the reality of having to move on from your childhood, but adulthood doesn’t have to be some dark, foreign alleyway that’s inescapable. Adulthood is whatever you want it to be, because you now have the power to create whatever world you want to live in. Congratulations! You’re growing up!
Sathsara is a young aspiring journalist from Sydney who is an avid reader. She hopes to one day become a publisher and own as many books as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
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