Being a young adult, especially in the college years, is not easy. I don't mean to say that it is a super difficult time either. In reality, it's both. But, as I've experienced it, these years are awkward and hard to understanding in the context of identity between us as young adults, and those we jokingly call "real adults."
All our lives, we are told about growing up. We are warned that one day we too be will adults, like our parents, like our teachers, like our aunts and uncles. We are groomed to become successful adults later in life, by these people, these role models.
I mean it when I say that we were lucky to have these people in our lives to raise us and teach us. But, while these relationships are vital, there comes a point in life when the dynamics must change.
At 18, we are thrown into the classification of "adult." We can do a lot more than the day before. Simplified, we can do just about anything except for legally drink and rent a car. Those things help make future birthdays more exciting. (If you count renting a car exciting and not as a scary amount of responsibility)
And for many of us, we dreamed for this day. The day when we can finally call ourselves adults. That we can claim ourselves as the authority over our own lives. We were all Dobby that day. But, just because we were legally 18 didn't mean we were all ready to be fully fledged adults.
Becoming an adult is a process and transition time that I didn't expect to be so tiresome, stressful, and existential.
The biggest change and issue I've found during this time is the clashing perspectives of parents and their adult children. Clearly, I fall into this category now, and sometimes it's hard to imagine an end to the tension.
In this regard, I do my best to understand my parents' side of the situation. I mean, they raised me for 18 years as their dependent and "baby." I was their responsibility, a part of them, and a large part of their lives.
And, just because I'm an adult now, doesn't mean I'm not their child anymore. It just means that our relationship has to adapt.
Let's be honest here. That's scary. It's actually terrifying to think that you have been taken care of your entire life and that now, you have to learn to take care of yourself. And for them, they have to realign their lives and thoughts to balance how to care about you and support you without seeing and treating you as a child.
And, you'll both slip up.
There will inevitably be times when you don't see eye-to-eye, and you might revert to what used to be. Young adults will turn into sassy and seemingly rebellious children in the eyes of their parents, fervently saying "I'm an adult," while parents retort with "then act like it."
Ever heard that one before?... It stings, to be honest, and neither behavior ever solves anything.
Communication is hard. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It is hard to figure out and do, and I personally put it off too often. But, sitting down or pausing for a bit to have an honest conversation about where you stand as people, potentially equals, can help.
And yeah, I need to take my own advice, even though I'm scared.
But, as a young adult, who loves and still depends on her parents quite a bit, I still believe that my relationship with my parents needs to change. I need to hold myself more accountable with what I say and do, not that I should change myself to conform, but to show more respect for the people that raised me. And in the same vein, hope and ask that my parents, and other adults in my life, don't keep seeing me as a child who must obey their personal ideals. That they respect my right to make decisions for myself and life that they might not agree with.
As people, we talk about the shifts and differences between generations, but don't always acknowledge the muddy transition period. This isn't a new phenomenon, but it is important.
Sure, there are times when I don't feel prepared for life as an adult, but that's a part of life in general. Your parents once felt the same, and I ask you to have that conversation. Remind each other that life works out and that there needs to be enough space to make choices and even mistakes, but that love and support will not, and should not, leave.
At times it seems impossible that I will be viewed as an equal and respected adult by my parents, and I hope that it happens one day. But, through the fights, stress, and misunderstandings of now, the day will come. And, the transition from child to adult in the minds of parents will not mean less for our relationship, but even more than believed possible.