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When I grow up ...

Written By Rubie McKeever-Smith

It’s hard to understand the difficulty of growing up until you’re physically going through it. When I was younger, all I ever dreamed about was having my own freedom, money and just being older. But now I’m here… I’d be taken back to childhood in an instant.

For me, the transition from child to adult is proving to be one of the hardest. This is the time when I, along with many other college age students, have to pick the path I want to explore. Whether it’s university, apprenticeships, full time work, gap year, the list is endless and equal parts exciting and overwhelming. There’s a lot of pressure in choosing the right path. What if it’s not where I’m supposed to be? What if I hate what I’ve chosen and then I’m stuck? How do I know what to choose?

It's so much harder than just googling the thing you’re interested in. There’s personal statements and applications and affordability, and we’re just expected to pick the one thing we’re expected to build the foundations of our career off, and pick it right…

Turning sixteen is what I would call the ‘middle point’ between adulthood and childhood. Realistically, you’re still a teenager, parents house, rules, education, but you’re somewhat treated as an adult as you get influenced to apply for your first job. Hypothetically, you work on weekends: college during the week, work on weekends, homework and coursework after college. Then, you turn seventeen, you can learn to drive. Then it becomes: college during the week, work on weekends, homework and coursework after college, driving lessons every week, plus revision for your theory. Not only all that, but we also have extra-curricular activities, clubs outside of college, families and friends. Who has the time?

There is nothing wrong with putting some things on hold. You are not being left behind. If anything, you’re saving yourself from being spread too thin and just sinking altogether. I would argue, it’s better to do things one at a time and reduce the stress instead of trying to take on everything at once; it's mentally impossible.

So what are some things we can do to help reduce the stress load?

For me, I’ve found I love a schedule. I need to get myself into a routine and plan my day out. I love those daily planners; I think they’re perfect for a timetable. It makes arranging your day fun and pretty with bright coloured pens. It also feels like such an achievement to tick off the things you’ve done. It will take time to stick to the routine, however, the end result will be worth it. Another thing that helps me stay motivated is limiting my screen time. As much as we all hate to admit it, it’s not particularly beneficial staring at screens all times of the day. It can be refreshing to take a step back and speak to people in person. Also, by limiting screen time, you’re limiting distractions. And we all know how bad it can be when you get in an endless Tik Tok cycle.

Although it’s a stage of life everyone goes through, I think people forget how hard this stage is. It’s hard to stay motivated, to push on. It’s hard to fit everything into place, it’s hard to thrive when you feel like the world is on your shoulders.

It’s rarely spoken about how difficult it is fitting everything in because you’re just expected to do it. Does anyone even feel comfortable admitting how much they are struggling? Are you afraid of being criticised or judged? I know I am.

I don’t want to let anyone down; I want to succeed and sometimes it’s the thought of disappointing people that pushes me to get out of bed in the morning and do something. Many adults forget what their life was like as a teenager. They often look at teenagers and just see college and wonder why we get so stressed, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.

Even so, life is stressful. It should not be a competition for who has the hardest life, teenagers, or adults, when we’re all experiencing different things. Just like them, we need time to ourselves. We need a break. We need room to breathe without worrying about what we’re supposed to do for the rest of our lives. There’s no harm in taking that breather, you’ve got so much going on, do something for you. You cannot rush your success. There’s nothing wrong with doing things in your own time. We are all still learning, and I think we need to be braver in admitting that.

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