While driving back from the grocery store, my sister, Aiah, seated in the passenger seat, looked up from her phone, and posed a question that soured my mood.
“Isn’t it funny how we’re adults, like I’m 18 and you’re 21, and we went to Smith’s today...like just us?”
“What?” I said, annoyed by the slow Honda in front of us.
“I don’t know. Like you had to change your tire pressure and get your oil checked the other day.”
“And remember how we went to CVS last week--just us, to get our flu shots? I saw how nervous you were because we’d done nothing like that before ‘cuz Mom and Dad usually police that sorta thing for us.”
“Can you st-”
“Aaron, I just mean the little things we do are like, what adults do, you know?” She shot me a smile and went back to her phone.
Adulthood’s Looming Shadow
Ever since that drive with my sister, I’ve been thinking about where all the time has gone. What she posed wasn’t shocking, but I still wish she hadn’t mentioned it.
Though I’ve acknowledged this growing independence and accepted these new responsibilities, the idea of “growing up” still scares me.
Start saying words like: income tax, DMV, rent, insurance, or job interview, and I’ll run in the other direction. I’ve done my best to ignore the pressing reality of adulthood’s looming shadow, but as my sister mentioned, we’d already begun our rites of passage.
The feeling of “growing up” becomes more apparent during the holiday season. When I was a kid, everything about the end of the year was something to admire and behold.
Now it just brings dread.
The allure of baking cookies and cozying up by the fireplace has lost some meaning because what was once a moment of much-needed R & R is now a reminder that I am inching ever-closer to graduation.
To me, graduation is that final nail in the coffin signaling my full admission into adulthood, and I’m not sure how to face the oncoming transition.
Thinking about a cap and gown should make me happy, the turning of tassels bringing about a sense of accomplishment, and my degree in hand symbolizing a successful future. Instead, I’m met with apprehension and anxiety as I question whether I’m cut out to be an adult.
Overcoming a Fear of Growing Up
I think what’s made me so fearful about growing up is my underlying hatred for change. I’ve always been one to “stay on the sinking ship,” which has made it difficult for me to pursue the goals I’ve set for myself.
I’m set to graduate next year, and I’ve realized that as much as I try to resist adulthood and all its baggage, it’s already here. Growing up is inevitable, and the best we can do is face it head-on.
Here are some ways I’ve changed my mindset to overcome my fear of growing up and oncoming adulthood.
1. Understand This Is A Universal Fear
As it turns out, the fear of growing up is common. Everyone, at some point in their lives, has experienced feelings of apprehension towards becoming an adult. Don’t believe me? Go online, and you’ll find countless forums and articles of people “terrified” at the thought of growing up. It’s a common sentiment and with it being so prevalent, there’s a comfort knowing that you’re not alone in those feelings.
2. Be Present
I’ve found that my fear of growing up stems from anxieties over an uncertain future.
The pandemic has heightened these fears within the past months, causing me to create an image of myself post-graduation. In this imagined scenario, I struggle to start my dream career as I remain locked in front of my computer, scrambling to apply for every entry-level writing position under the sun.
This passing thought comes often, but whenever I find myself jumping to scenarios like this, I take a meditative moment to ground myself in the present.
I’ll focus on objects around me or think about a recent success I had that day. These practices have helped me understand that the future isn’t final.
Though we treat it as reality, only our present space is the surest moment we’ll ever have. That scenario I described where I’m on an endless job search? While a possibility, it’s entirely assumed and based solely on my fears. And should I find myself in that position, I can’t let my fear over a future scenario deter me from overcoming that situation and claiming success.
I’ve acknowledged that while growing up is inevitable, our entire lives don’t have to revolve around the prospect. By practicing to stay in the present moment and recognizing that our futures are assumed, we can come to peace with the fear of growing up.
3. Talk it Out
You might find it helpful to talk with someone you respect or who’ll get your circumstance. Bottling this fear inside will only lead to feelings of loneliness and greater apprehension.
Funny enough, though my sister was the one who made my fear apparent, she was the first person I confided in. As a college freshman, she told me how she, too, feared the prospect of adulthood and talking to her provided some much-needed reassurance. It felt like taking a deep exhale.
If you find yourself stuck with these fears and unsure how to move on, consider talking with someone. It might just ease your mind.
As all-consuming as growing up may seem, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a process everyone goes through, and by acknowledging its presence, we can take steps towards cultivating a mindset where we don’t have to fear it.
Understand that fears surrounding growing up are valid and universally felt. If you find yourself worried over the future, consider focusing on the present moment through meditative practices. Talking with someone close to you can also help alleviate some of the stress caused by oncoming adulthood.
I’m still mulling over adulthood and all its intricacies, but I’m glad to say I’m in a much better headspace. I’ve been taking it day by day, and as the year comes to a close, I’m looking forward to graduation and the possibilities ahead.
About the Author:
Born in the Philippines, Aaron moved to the United States at a young age. Having lived in Las Vegas since elementary school, Aaron is a Las Vegas native! He’s always possessed a love for reading and writing and eventually found himself wanting to pursue his passion as an English major at UNLV. Aaron hopes to become a writer for a publication in the personal wellness field.