Intro To Adulting

JD V. , Editor

Growing up can be optional and growing old may be mandatory, but both are unavoidable. As an unemployed, 16-year-old, high school junior, I am absolutely terrified of what comes after college. The good news is that I’m not alone in thinking this way. As we move from our teen years to our twenties, there is a feeling like we’re stuck “in between” because of gaining more responsibilities and freedoms while still being tied to our parents and home. School doesn’t exactly offer an “intro to adulting” class, so I asked my friends what their concerns about oncoming adulthood were and I’m going to do my best to answer them.

1. How can I pay off student loans while still “living life”?

Again, I am currently unemployed as of this article, but I found some great resources at nerd wallet and at meratas.com. The most important thing to know is when your payments are due. Repayment begins once the student loan grace period begins, which is about 6 months after graduating or leaving school. The lender will probably work through a student loan servicer where you’ll pay directly. You can either pay manually or autopay, which is usually better because you can receive an interest rate discount and you’ll be less likely to forget to make a payment. If you have a job and steady income, you can refinance at a lower interest rate, but it can cost you income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness. If you can’t afford the first bill, talk to your loan servicer about paying less with an income-driven repayment plan. Second, learn how to set a budget and set financial goals so that you track spending habits. Regularly tracking expenses by date can highlight where you can make cuts or spend more effectively. Expenses can be monitored through an app, spreadsheets, or just on paper. Lastly, open a savings account early, this way you’ll have money for long-term goals. Anna Klawitter for meratas.com writes, “pay bills first, contribute to your savings, and then use a little on yourself”.

2. What Defines “Adulthood”?

John Kim for Psychology Today writes, “You don’t just become an adult when you turn 18. Adulting is a process. It takes lots of trial and error and hard reminders from life and expired relationships.” Socially speaking, adulthood focuses on a person’s ability to take on increased responsibility in their lives, this includes finishing school, working a full-time job, and possibly getting married and starting a family. This period of maturity is technically thought to begin at age 20 or 21 per Encyclopedia Britannica. However, increased access to higher education and acceptance of premarital relations has delayed young people leaving home and developing long-term romantic relationships. In this day and age, financial independence and a lasting relationship may take longer to achieve. Nowadays, young adulthood is a time when people are trying to find their personal identity, navigating relationships, and looking for a decent-paying job. There is a definition of adulthood, but the time it takes to really get there is relative to everyone, which brings me to the next question.

3. How Can We Deal With Uncertainty?

Unfortunately, there is no real guide to help teenagers become functioning adults and uncertainty is a completely normal part of emerging adulthood. There are multiple career paths that young people can take and each with varying degrees of success. In other words; struggle and uncertainty are inevitable. A lot of the articles I read suggest talking to someone in your life to help you with this, but at the end of the day, it’s your life. You might have to jump around from different jobs, living spaces, and people before you actually figure out what you want out of life and that’s okay. These are actually features of emerging adulthood. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are five stages; the age of identity and exploration, the age of instability, the age of self-focus, the age of feeling in between, and the age of possibilities.

Technically, the only question I could answer concretely was the one about student loans but the rest still stands. When you turn 18 you don’t just automatically have it all figured out, if you do then please help me, but the point is there is still time. We all go at our own pace and we’re all just doing our best.