Updated: Dec 9, 2019
This is submission #2: This is from the perspective of a young adult who is not YET a University student
You can read the previous submission here: https://www.southsonder.com/blog-1/what-does-adulthood-mean-to-you-1?fbclid=IwAR09MhGKmgWOdCfU1wDva_BT2vzwtaWJ3iINYetQaDB0YyQNfCtr-z97Pas
1. Tell me about yourself.
I'm 20 years old. Wow, I almost said 19...time goes by so fast. I'm currently the Vice-President of a group of artists called Vanguard Youth Arts Collective and I will be going to university for Visual Arts and Communication, Media and Film. I am passionate about dance, music, photography and film. I'm also very into spirituality, understanding myself, and learning how to build better relationships with myself and others. I love art, but I'm especially passionate about aesthetics more than fine art. I've realized that I gravitate more towards a piece that is visually pleasing more than if it has any deep meaning behind it or what kind of technique was used in it. I'm also passionate about documenting my life. I don't want to forget anything, and I want to be able to relive any moment as many times as I want to. I'd say that out of all my passions that this the one I am most passionate about because the other ones aren't very consistent, and they come and go in seasons. But, my need to document everything is forever. I know it's not like this for most people, but for me, capturing a moment, whether it's on picture or video, gives me way more satisfaction than being fully present and not being able to relive it in the future except for in my memories, which only end up fading away with time. So, I really love documenting my memories and I don't like when people tell me I'm not living in the moment because that's their truth, not mine. We just have different perspectives and different lenses in which we experience the world and neither one is better than the other.
2. What about University/college/adulthood (in general) stresses you out? Write in detail.
I am not yet a student at university because I took some time off after I graduated high school to think about what the next best step would be for me. During this time that I've had off from school, I've had a lot of time to think and ask myself important questions that I believe cannot and should not be rushed. And by giving myself space to do this, I was able to get to know myself better and have a more clear headspace to decide what works best for me personally. But, one of the things that stressed me out about the whole concept of launching 17 year old high school students into university as soon as they graduate is that most of us don't have a clue of what path is best for us based on our natural talents and drive. Most teenagers don't know themselves enough yet at that age because there wasn't enough focus and guidance on finding what we naturally gravitate towards and nurturing skills that will allow us to better align ourselves with our purpose. University is TOO expensive to just enroll and figure it out while we're there and have to end up switching programs. That's one thing that stressed me out back then and still stresses me out when I think about it because I know it's not in some powerful people's best interest for us to find our true purpose. There are powerful people who depend on a mentally weak population and they don't care that we're unhappy or choose wrong paths for us as long as they're making money out of us paying for university, (which brings me to my next point).
University is so unbelievably expensive. Even with all the grants and the loans, it's just getting to be an insane amount of money and debt that makes students question if it's all even worth it. And on top of that, having to pay extra for school parking, books, material, or codes to access class assignments. It's RIDICULOUS. It's such a weight to carry for an education that I've heard isn't even what it's hyped up to be, (at least for some people). I can't comment much on what the university experience is actually like because I've yet to see it for myself, but that's just one thing that caused me stress during the time where I was considering if it was even worth it to go to University and collect all that debt. But, I decided that if I go to University, I'm basically paying for an experience more than a direct ticket into my dream job. I know that if I want to do certain things it's going to take a lot more than a degree, but I made my peace with wanting to pay for an experience that I can only have once in a lifetime, and that I'd preferably like to have during my youth.
And, maybe I'm romanticizing it, but the truth for me is that the alternative isn't more appealing to me. I don't really have the entrepreneurial spirit in me so not going to college and trying to make it on my own seems like a much lonelier and more difficult path. Being a real entrepreneur takes an insane amount of time, energy, work, and willpower. More than the average person can give. And, many might try to make it as an entrepreneur, but most fail because it's not easy. So, that leaves the ones that stick through it kind of lonely, I think. And, I don't want that for me. I don't have it in me to get through that in that way. So, I choose to pay for an education and earn a degree and an experience where I am able to relate to my peers. That's basically what University is to me.
Now what stresses me out about university and going into adulthood is that having a university degree no longer guarantees you a job position in the field that you studied for. So, it kind of makes you question what's even the point of all of it then? Now you're out of school with a huge amount of debt that is now collecting interest while you can't get a job. If you are paying that much money for an education, you should be guaranteed a job position almost as soon as you graduate. That, or tuition should be more affordable.
Adulthood is an exciting time but also a very stressful and nerve-racking reality to face when you realize the adults that you once looked up to are just as lost as you are and you can no longer use them as role-models to help you maneuver your way around life. There are so many things nobody teaches you that should be taught in school because they are the basics of surviving as a self-sufficient adult in society. But schools don't focus on that, even though it's what will be the most useful to us. In my opinion, schools should teach us things like how credit works, how mortgages work, how real estate works, how taxes work, how to cook, practicing good habits, how to have better and healthier interpersonal relationships so we can all resolve conflict better, how to spot red flags in a relationship, how to defend ourselves physically if we were faced with a situation where we literally have to fight back to save our lives, how to meditate, practice the skill of public speaking until we're comfortable enough, etc. So many things that we have the amazing privilege of having the internet to teach us. But it's not the same as practicing all these useful tools for years in an institution that is purposefully meant for shaping our society. So, I guess what stresses me out about adulthood is that now I have to figure all this out by myself. And I'm thankful that there are books and the Internet, and I can get through this and grow if I truly have the will, but it's just a reality that hits you all of a sudden because older adults expect you to know all of this as if it's common sense and it's not. These things take time and we would all be lightyears ahead as a society if the focus was directed to the right things since the beginning. But now we have to start over and teach ourselves what the educational system never did, so if we mess up you have no right to judge us. Be an adult and mind your business. 😊
3. How do you handle that stress (if at all)? What recommendations would you give to someone dealing with stressors regarding coming-of-age/growing up?
What helped me deal with all this stress, depression and uncertainty was to learn to see things from a different perspective. To realize that things aren't black and white and there is no one right or wrong way to do things or even think about things and comparing ourselves to other people is useless. Although I've had a pretty privileged life (which I could only see once I stepped into a different perspective from the one I was looking into before), I can still say that I've gone through a good amount of adversity in my life, especially in my last years of high school until now. Through that time, what helped me get out of that confusing and unsure mindset was to practice perspective. This changed my life and it is the one thing I can count on to get me out in one piece through the toughest of times. Also, asking myself lots of questions and allowing myself to be vulnerable and not feel guilty or ashamed about it, and giving myself time and space. This means that I decided that I wasn't going to feel guilty for doing nothing. I just let myself feel and take tiny steps forward every day trying to figure our more about myself and where I was headed, but without guilting myself into being productive or comparing myself to where other people were on THEIR path.
People might think that I was acting like a bum because I went through a long period of time of not going to school and not working (and I know not everyone can afford that luxury), but I'm speaking on the way I personally dealt with my issues, starting where I was, using what I had, and doing what I could. And things worked out fine. I am much more sure of myself now and what I want. I have short-term goals and long-term goals. I found like-minded people who motivate me to be better every day and also give me the opportunity to motivate them in return and it feels so good to finally have a support system like that. I also practiced feeling grateful for what I had, for what I am/was during those times when I felt so unsure of myself. And of the present and the future, I still found things to be grateful for and I learned to be content and satisfied with the life that I had and this helped me tone down my anxiety about the future.
It's hard to explain to someone who might have never put this into practice but when you realize how infinitely abundant the universe is, and how there are infinite number of ways things can come about, you can let go of worrying so much about university and your job and adulthood and how it's all going to get solved. It's all very confusing and stressful and sometimes unfair, but this was my way of getting my [shit] together and getting a grip. Being grateful for things as they were in that present moment grounded me and allowed me to make decisions with a clearer head, and this is how I managed to keep taking steps forward. I hope that this doesn't sound fake deep or too much like superficial advice that just sounds nice because it's not like that at all. All of these things genuinely helped me out of depression which I know is something that has become very common for a lot of people my age to experience, and I can only share with you what I did with what was under my control. All the other things outside, I don't know how to fix or make better or to ensure justice, but I/we will figure out ways to fix that later. First, we have to get right with ourselves so we can have strength to face the world as adults, and I want people to know it's okay, necessary even, to take time to gather yourself before you're thrown out into the fight.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
That concludes this week's post in this ongoing series about WHAT ADULTHOOD MEANS TO YOU. Thank you to the person who made this submission and if you are interested in seeing more posts like this from other young adults undergoing the same shift in their life, stay tuned!
If you are interested in sending a submission and being featured in this ADULTHOOD series, you can email SouthSonder@gmail.com answering the same questions listed above. You can also choose to remain anonymous if you would like!