Why We Feel So Lost In Our Late Teens/Early 20s

Why We Feel So Lost In Our Late Teens/Early 20s

If you're wondering who you are or what you're going to do with your life, you are not alone.
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If you're wondering who you are or what you're going to do with your life, you are not alone. These are concerns of many traditional college-aged students, including myself. So why do we feel so lost, perhaps like we are in an "in between" stage in our life?

If you are familiar with Erik Erikson, then you probably know about Erikson's stages of development. A relatively new stage of development proposed by psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, emerging adulthood, accounts for ages 18-25. Feeling "in between" is common during these years. Although emerging adults feel they are responsible for themselves, they do not fully feel like adults yet. Emerging adults are not yet adults, but they are no longer adolescents.

Identity exploration and self-focus are two key components of emerging adulthood. Views on love, work, and the world are explored during this stage of development. Compared to previous generations, more people are obtaining higher education and getting married later in life.

Cognitively, connections within the brain will strengthen with use or be pruned away with disuse. Emerging adults gain a better sense of self and capacity for reflection; therefore, emerging adults are less likely to make impulsive decisions than adolescents.

With the stress of college and trying to find one's place in the world, it is hardly a surprise that approximately 50% of people age 18-25 experience at least one psychiatric disorder. Anxiety, mood, substance abuse, and impulse-control disorders generally begin before age 24. The good news is the chance of developing a disorder decreases dramatically by age 28.

Despite a strong desire to explore the world, emerging adults typically do not make enough money to be independent; in fact, a majority of people age 18-25 live at home. Emerging adults tend to go through many different jobs on their path to self discovery. However, emerging adults say they believe they will have a better life than their parents did.

Emerging adulthood is the age of instability, but it is also the age of possibilities.

Emerging adulthood may seem like a an awkward stage riddled with conflict, anxiety, and pressure, but emerging adulthood is a privilege of living in a developed country. We have all the resources necessary to explore our identities.

As millennials, we have similar concerns and struggles. We may have a longer road to adulthood, but we are living longer as well. Don't try to rush through your late teens and early 20s. It's supposed to feel like this. You don't have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life now. Emerging adulthood is a time to discover yourself and the world. Accept the instability in your life by embracing change and living each day as it comes. With instability comes possibilities. The future is not certain, but it is yours.

Cover Image Credit: thatsphotography via Pixabay

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Freshman Year Of College Taught Me Important Lessons That I'll Never Forget

What people don't tell you about your first year of college.

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Everyone looks forward to the day he or she walks across a stage and receives a high school diploma. The unlimited possibilities that college will hold for you and the new people you will meet are exciting. Going into college, I didn't know what to expect. I had heard stories on how to make friends, what to do to maintain a social and academic life, and how to not allow the new environment to overwhelm me. However, this did not make my transition into college any easier.

I believe the most important thing l learned that no one told me was the fact that not everyone is going to have the same heart as you, and that's okay. There will be people who will make you question if you made the right decision or if you are doing something wrong. I transitioned from being surrounded by people who had similar qualities as me to people surrounded by people who could not be more different. That is part of the college experience.

Everyone comes from somewhere different and think and act in various ways. College has made me more open to different ideas and allowed me to realize that not everyone will always be kind to you. How other people treat you is not always a reflection of how you treat them. College has taught me to let the little things that bother me go because there is no point to waste time on something that is not going to impact you in a positive manner.

The next lesson I've learned since I started college is that it's okay to be alone; it's even okay to want to be alone. One of the things stressed to me before I started college was to put myself out there and do everything I can do to meet new people. Which I did, and am so glad because I have met some people who I couldn't live without now.

However, that does not mean I never want alone time. For me, I have noticed that in order to focus on myself mentally I need a day or two away from all the commotion that is college. Being alone helps me clear my head and focus on what I need to do in order to be my bests self. I came to the conclusion that being alone and being lonely are two entirely different things, something I did not realize in high school.

Overall, the first semester of college helped me understand myself more. I know that in order to succeed you need to make yourself happy first, not anyone else. No matter how important they are to you. College is a tough transition for anyone, no matter how prepared you think you are. And by putting your needs first, it makes the transition a little easier.

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