I remember calling my mom sometime around age 19. I had moved to Boston for school in September. I’m a small town Central Oregon girl… grew up in a town of about 6,000 people… to me Boston might has well have been another planet! Sometime in November, I found myself sick with some kind of bug that simply was not going away. I needed to go to the doctor; which is when it struck me, “Wait, how does one do that?” I mean, does the doctor call you and tell you when it’s time to go in? My mom always just said, “Hey, you have a doctor appointment today at 3pm” and I said, “Okay” and I went. I had no idea how all that happened. How was I supposed to know you have to call them and say, “Hey, I need to come in.” Ugh! Adulting is hard.
You know the age. Either you remember it, or maybe you’re living it right now, somewhere around 19-27 or so-ish, where all of a sudden this thing you’ve wanted so bad, freedom, is upon you and all you secretly want to do is go back because you’re sure you’re failing miserably at it.
So many of our ‘adulting’ clients come in because they are feeling lost. The career they’ve worked their entire life at school for is suddenly not all it’s cracked up to be, or they feel like they’re supposed to be in a relationship by now, or be in a house or at least have figured out how to not bounce checks anymore!
Well, rest assured, the answer is a resounding NO! You’re not supposed to have it all figured out yet. In fact, this time... this phase of your life, might just be the hardest “school” you’ve ever attended. Feeling lost and confused is normal.
There are four pieces of guidance I often give my ‘adulting’ counseling clients.
Take a good financial literacy class. Even if you think you’re good at it, take it. For whatever reason our school system doesn’t teach it. Algebra? Yes. How to calculate air density? Yes (I mean… really?!?!) But financial literacy? Compound interest? Investing? Techniques to build a savings account when you can barely buy groceries? NOPE! So lean in and learn it. It doesn’t have to feel so daunting and there are few things more stressful the realizing it’s only the 22nd of the month and you’re down to $1.52 in your bank account. Why $1.52 you ask? Well… because I’ve been there... on the 22nd of the month staring at my $1.52 balance more times that I care to admit. That number will stick in my head for ever! It's a terrible feeling.
You’re NOT supposed to absolutely know what you’re doing with your life. It’s okay to hate what you went to school for and NO, whatever direction you choose to go does not mean you’re stuck with it for the rest of your life. On average an individual will have three career changes over their lifetime. Explore, discover, and find what you like. Just because school is done doesn’t mean you stop learning.
Stop comparing yourself to others. No one, and I mean NO ONE, has it figured out. As you look around at your friends and find yourself thinking “What is wrong with me? They have it so together. Why can’t I figure that out?” (I hear it ALL THE TIME).
Consider finding a counselor you trust to support you through this phase of your life. The confusion that is intrinsic to discovering yourself can feel overwhelming. It's hard enough without also feeling you’re alone in it.