The scariest thing about adulthood is how inevitable it feels. Like a killer in a horror movie it advances on us, silent and implacable. It doesn’t negotiate and it doesn’t care whether or not we’re ready for it. Whether we like it or not, as we get older there is a steady increase in demands placed on us by the circumstances of our lives. Financial and social pressures build—and time for personal interests, friendships, and hobbies, grows scarce.

Is it any wonder that adulting goes hand-in-hand with anxiety? In today’s post, we’re going to explore some of the reasons this transition is so harrowing—and offer some helpful strategies to manage the process.

Expectations

One of the less well-known secrets in life is the relationship between expectations and anxiety. We have an idea about the person we’re supposed to be and the kind of life we should be living. When we start missing these milestones that we’ve created for ourselves (or had created for us!) it can rock us to our core.

When we get so caught up in looking forward to the future, it becomes difficult to enjoy the present. We’re so busy focusing on who we’re supposed to be that we don’t stop to ask ourselves who we want to be. Certainly, there’s a template that we’re expected to follow—but the reality is that “the template” doesn’t work for everyone.

Instead of worrying about how you compare to your peers—focus on enjoying the present.

Financial Pressures

There’s no denying that financial pressures build as we get older. Keeping health insurance becomes a higher priority over the years—but we also have a thousand voices in our ears telling us to start prepping for retirement before even setting foot on a job site. With rents at record highs and inflation proving stubborn over the last several years, we live in one of the most difficult times for a young person to transition to adulthood.

 

It’s important to recognize that ‘adulting’ has always looked different from one generation to the next. Your friends and family may have their own opinions—but the nuclear family is a relatively recent invention. Throughout human history it’s been far more common for people to live with roommates and relatives throughout adulthood.

Romantic Entanglements

Just as with financial pressure, the pressure to find romantic fulfillment builds over time. Partners are more likely to seek marriage or a long-term commitment, and you may have relatives pressuring you to move more quickly than you’d like. Remember, no one solution works for everyone. It’s important to ask yourself what you want and revisit that question occasionally.

Increased Responsibility

  Our decisions take on increased weight as we get older. As a result, it’s harder for us to make those decisions—and more likely that we’ll spend time agonizing over them. As a result, it’s increasingly important to find a way to decompress. Whether you throw yourself into a hobby or reconnect with old friends, look for a space where you can be decision-free.

Loss of Identity

As we get older, many of us struggle with our sense of self. We define ourselves one way as children, another as teenagers, and yet another as adults. Old interests fade, and we’re often at a loss as to how to fill those gaps. Stay curious. Exploring new interests is a helpful way to forge your own identity in adulthood.

Counseling

Are you struggling to manage anxiety related to adulting? If so, reach out to schedule a consultation. I offer a warm and caring environment where you can explore and process your concerns without fear of judgment. Your journey is more common than you know—and you are not alone. I would love to help you face down your anxieties with confidence.