We, as adults, are all too aware of the agonizing point in preteenhood where we undergo bodily changes and confusing emotions. I’ve read somewhere that the reason why we’re so angry during puberty is that we’re old enough to want to be independent and to go out and live life, but we’re too young to actually go out and do those things – thus we are left to simmer in our own frustration, without the slightest idea what to do with all of these new feelings.
So we go through puberty as we foray into teenagehood, we undergo that uncomfortable time, and then we move on once it’s over. It’s awkward, it’s weird, and no one ever wants to talk about it until it’s over. But why does no one acknowledge the second round of puberty we all go through? – That is, the process of transitioning into becoming an adult. Well here I am, in the midst of becoming a full-fledged adult myself, ready to talk about the awkward and anxiety-producing process of becoming a grown-up.
The moment I realized I was finally an adult wasn’t when I moved away from home, cut my first rent check, or even when I paid my first credit card bill. The day that I found myself at the store buying toilet paper with my own money dollars, I found myself at a crossroads in my life, and that was the day it hit me like a freight train – I am officially an adult. Soon, I was on that freight train, and it soon projectiled down the steep mountain into the abyss of adulthood.
You see, at least with (first) puberty, the process was very much a gradual one, though long and grueling it was, and a process that eventually ended. This second round of puberty – transitioning into adulthood – didn’t give me a chance to dip my toes into the pool before getting in. I, just like everyone else, was unceremoniously pushed in, and I did not appreciate it one bit. Since that fateful day that I bought my own toilet paper, events transpired one after the other, further confirming my adultness, taunting me like a tactless child poking at my insecurities.
All of the standard grown-up responsibilities – filing taxes, paying credit card bills, putting gas in my car, etc. – are all things I was expecting. I was making my own money, and naturally, that money cannot just sit in my savings account gathering dust (I mean, who does that???). What I did not expect were all of the tough grown-up decisions I would soon have to make for myself, decisions involving more than just what I would binge watch on Netflix after a long week of classes.
Halfway through college, I realized I had to start taking real steps towards a career, something I had no clue about yet. And if I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, how in the world was I supposed to know what I had to do to get there? How exactly do you get to nowhere when you don’t even know where you are now? And so I regressed to my 12 year old mindset – I want to live an independent and self-sufficient life, but have absolutely no means to get there. And so I simmered in my frustration, fumbling and tumbling further down the rabbit hole we call adulthood.
But choosing a path and career after college isn’t as simple as choosing an item off of a menu (though even that could be a daunting process). You have to figure out how exactly you fit into society, and what kind of an impact you want to make on the world. Will it be worth it? Will I be happy? What if I never get there? And for all of my spiritual friends, there comes an added dimension – What is it that I am being called to do? Back in middle school, worrying about who you are as a person and which social circle you fit into so you have people to hang out with during the school day – and God-willing, the weekend – seemed like the most important thing in the world. Little did you know that ten some odd years later, you would be worrying about the same thing, except on a larger and more intense level.
Have I hit your anxiety bone yet? Cause I’m having heart palpitations just typing this.
Finally, as if your worth, your future, and your destiny weren’t enough to worry about, you will eventually find yourself thinking about what could possibly be the most stressful aspect of your future – who am I going to spend my life with? In middle school, when you’re first noticing members of the opposite gender, all you’re worried about is how you can impress that person and how you can impress the rest of your classmates by being with that person. Now here I am, finding myself staring my mid-twenties in the face, hyper-aware of my singleness, scared to death of the possibility of being alone for the rest of my life.
The truth, though, is that I’ve learned to step back from all of this and to just remember that everything will fall into place in due time. Worrying too much about the future is just as useless as worrying too much about the past – there is absolutely nothing that you can do to change anything that’s happened or will happen, so you may as well enjoy what’s in front of you right now. It’s daunting, thinking about what’s going to happen in the future, but if you flip that around and look at it from the standpoint of seeing the endless amount of possibilities you have in front of you, the future can be an exciting thing.
Just as you got through puberty in your prepubescent ages, you will certainly get through this second round of puberty. It’s all a learning and growing process, and everyone around you is going through the exact same thing.