Adulting 101: Mental Health Needs for Young Adults

People ages 18-25 are considered “emerging adults.” This is a fancy way of saying, “Yes, you’re technically an adult, but we acknowledge that you probably still don’t know WTF you’re doing.”

The term “adulting” was born out of the universal acknowledgement that being an adult means a whole lot of things - things that are particularly difficult to do all at once, much less do them well. 

Young adults are supposed to:

  • Do well in school/work! Find what you’re passionate about so you can monetize your passion and support yourself and loved ones!

  • Maintain financial balance in a career that you absolutely love, despite the increasing costs of housing and education! Treat yo’ self! But also, don’t buy avocado toast so you can save for a house! Never retire!

  • Find loved ones! Invest your time and energy into building friendships and relationships with people who push you to be your best self!

  • Cultivate a healthy lifestyle including eating right, sleeping enough and working out! Additionally, understand your thoughts and feelings and how they impact everything around you!

OK, I’ll stop yelling.

If you felt overwhelmed just reading the list, it’s no wonder we all feel overwhelmed trying to live it. It’s challenging enough to look at one of these items at a time, but the reality is we are usually pressured (by parents, teachers, friends, or just society generally) to have some handle on all these things at once. That’s a lot to ask.

It also doesn’t help that we all navigate these issues on different timelines. For some people, relationships have always been easy but they have never had a job or subject in school they enjoyed. For others, they’ve always known what they would do for work, but socially they feel like the perpetual outsider. And some people don’t feel like anything comes easy—what a stressful place to start in! 

If you’re a young adult and you feel like you’re struggling, you are most definitely not alone.

Your mental health faces some of its biggest turmoil in young adulthood–whether it be depression, anxiety, self-consciousness, suffering from FOMO about people you’re not even that close to, feeling isolated, dealing with hopelessness about the future, your twenties can be a trying time that can feel endlessly overwhelming.

Progressing Into Adulthood

It seems like just yesterday you were still in high school–but now, everything has changed. You’re expected to know who you are and what makes you happy, find a career, maybe find a partner, and all before you turn twenty five!

Guess what? If you don’t feel like you know exactly who you want to be in your early twenties, it’s OK.

It’s easy to feel isolated during this period of your life despite the fact that these feelings are incredibly common. When your feed is full of engagement pics and people landing their dream jobs, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind. It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey looks different and we “get there” at different times. 

Accepting Yourself

Arguably the biggest challenge of emerging adulthood is figuring out who you are, and accepting yourself for whoever that is.

Have you always felt as if you never quite fit in, or is this something new for you? Are you part of a community or culture that feels sidelined or left out of mainstream society? Do you struggle with having people not accepting you - even people who are supposedly close to you?

It’s important to recognize that there is acceptance out there, truly. It can feel lonely and intimidating but everyone can find a place - and a community- that makes them feel safe and appreciated for who they are.

The first step to finding people who love you is to first love yourself.

This approach seems obvious, but it’s not always easy to do. A surefire part of self-acceptance is validation and affirmation from those around you. Think about it - as soon as someone understands what you’re going through, you feel better. But first you need to know yourself in order to find those people, or let them find you. So, which one do you do first? Try a little of both.

But then you may feel obligated to act like you have it all together. No one wants to be around someone insecure or unsure of themself. Your self-esteem might not quite be there yet. And that’s totally okay. Start with things you know you love to talk about. Share a hobby or skill that you feel competent in. Then you can stretch past your comfort zone and expand your circle, your identity, and your confidence.

Understanding Mental Health and Young Adults

While some young adults may just experience the (unfortunately) classic feelings of self-doubt and hesitation, others may be feeling their mental health slip. Depression, anxiety, impostor syndrome, lack of acceptance, or substance abuse are just a few examples of serious issues that may make young adults feel completely isolated or hopeless.

It’s important not only to acknowledge your mental health but to also recognize where it could be preventing you from being the best you can be. Until you do this, you won’t be able to get the help that you need and may feel consistently stuck. Learning how to productively handle your mental health is a critical life skill, and the earlier you can start to work on it the better.

Seeking Help

There is no shame in seeking help for your mental health. Especially in your young adulthood, you would benefit from guidance more than ever. In this confusing time, it’s crucial to talk with a professional therapist before your mental health slips to more challenging or dangerous realms.

Whatever struggle you’re experiencing–depression, anxiety, or just general fear for the future–you have a right to feel comfort about your place in this world and in your future. Talking about your mental health issues can not only provide guidance, but it can help you better understand your emotions and how to plan for your future.

Adulting can be a struggle, but making sense of your mental health doesn’t have to be. Because it’s so uncomfortable, you probably want to conquer it overnight. But it takes time! Cut yourself some slack, allow yourself to feel your emotions, and seek help when you need it. Luckily, you don’t have to go through it without help.

Know that you’re not alone, and there are people who understand what you’re going through.

If you’re ready to talk to someone about how therapy can help you create a more fulfilling day-to-day life and a more hopeful future, click below to schedule a free consultation today.

Prospect Therapy is an LGBTQ+ affirming psychotherapy practice that offers quality mental health services to individuals, couples, children and families. Our guiding principles are integrity, generosity and enthusiasm. We welcome individuals of all genders and orientations in Long Beach, Seal Beach, and surrounding areas in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.

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