I can’t adult today.” It is a funny catch phrase that has recently seen a lot of popularity and trending in social media. It probably speaks to many of us, possibly quite often too, when the stress, responsibilities, and difficulties of being an adult seem like too much and we wish for the days when we were younger, living with our parents, possibly job and money stress free, and living “the life.” But the reality is that we all have to grow up, get jobs, take on our responsibilities, pay the bills, and act like responsible adults. This is a difficult life transition for all of us but it appears that the current college age population and recent graduates are at a greater risk for not having the necessary coping and decision making skills to deal with being an adult.
In a recent article published on MSN.com titled “‘Adulting’ Program Teaches College Students Coping Skills,” this very issue is addressed. In the article, the author reports that there has been a significant rise in college students seeking counseling due to difficulties coping with life changes and perceived failures. College students today are reporting more anxiety and stress in dealing with managing their lives as young adults. The article reports that the key issue seems to be that the students are not equipped with the coping skills and resiliency to overcome setbacks and failure and deal with the new responsibilities of being an independent adult. The article concludes that the millennial population is in need of learning better coping skills, stress management techniques, and ways to deal with setbacks and failures.
In my own therapy work with clients I happen to come across this frequently, not just with college aged clients or recent graduates/young adults, but also with middle and older aged adults as well. Becoming an adult and/or learning to live independently can be very difficult, especially when one has not been taught the basic skills, such as doing laundry, paying bills, negotiating salaries, grocery shopping, budgeting, etc. There is also often additional pressure or expectations placed on one’s self because it may be the opinion that these are all tasks we “should” know how and be able to do. If we struggle with one of them or try and fail, we view ourselves as incompetent or a failure and often have shame about the fact that we are not able to do something that so many others appear to do so easily.
Being an adult is not easy. We should not feel bad or feel like a failure if we have difficulties with it or struggle with being able to cope with, or handle all of the responsibilities that go along with being an adult. Just as we would ask for help when needed in any other situation, it can be very beneficial to seek the assistance of a therapist during difficult life transitions, especially the transition to adulthood. With therapy it is possible to learn more effective and efficient coping skills, more positive thought processes to handle negative or distressing thoughts or situations, how to be resilient during times of setbacks or failures, and to discuss the areas of being an adult or part of a life transition that are challenging or frustrating. Therapy can be a great tool and way to help you through a difficult situation, change, or perceived failure and to also better prepare you to be able to handle any more that may come in the future.