Are you a twenty-something or thirty-something who technically falls into the legal adult category, but you don’t quite feel like one yet? Struggling to put a name on that phase of life where you’re obligated to file your own taxes, but still don’t know how to use a can opener without cutting your finger? Well, we coined the term so you don’t have to: welcome to adultescence.
Merriam-Webster hasn’t caught up yet, so we’ll lay it out for you. Perhaps it’ll be easier to start with some examples. A diagnosis, if you will.
*Cue dramatic medical commercial music*
What is Adultescence?
Do you have frequent mental breakdowns about whether or not you suck at your job?
Do you wear your excessive drinking habit as a badge of honor?
Is your first instinct to stock up on dorm-friendly canned goods and junk food when grocery shopping?
Do you ask others what they majored in at college as your go-to conversation starter?
When you drop it low at bars, are you unable to stand back up?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, consider yourself a victim of adultescence. Side effects include: anxiety, rejection, loneliness, comparison and FOMO. Oh, and if you’re anything like us, a sliced open finger because you genuinely do not know how to use a can opener. We must have skipped that day in class.
Post-graduation feels like starting to chug a glass of water after a long run, only to realize it was actually last night’s vodka.
After all, your professors, guidance counselors, and the whole of society have been hyping you up for this moment. They reminded you daily that your elite education would afford you a seamless job hunt, fat salary and an impactful career. We’re still waiting on… well, all three of them.
If you’re a fresh graduate who hasn’t yet experienced the downsides of life as a post-grad… circle back to this at a later date. We’ll be here, diagnosis in hand.
Adultescence is a Phase of Life
This isn’t to say that you won’t start rolling in cash or eventually become a Pulitzer Prize winner… but that definitely won’t happen in your first year out of college. Or even four years out. If we’re being totally honest with you (which is kind of our entire brand), it might never happen at all. Do you even know how hard it is to become a Pulitzer Prize winner?
Regardless of where your path takes you, we do know one thing. Before you get to the success story, you have to first figure out how to exist as a member of society, outside the confines of college.
And sometimes that means being the dumbest person in the room at your first job, living in a God-awful apartment, and losing the friends you thought would be your bridesmaids. Tiffany would have made the day all about her anyway. Trust us, it’s not as big of a loss as you think.
What’s Different Between College & Adulthood?
Adultescence comes with a lot of changes. One day, you’re waking up at noon to stroll over to class (probably hungover) in sweatpants. Then, all of a sudden, you have to wear uncomfortable office clothes to go to a job you might not love for hours and hours each day.
And the pressure of succeeding at said job feels crippling. At one point, your failures only hurt your GPA. We lived by the motto, C’s get degrees. But now, others are relying on you to keep their business afloat… and that is terrifying.
Your social life looks a lot different in adultescence, too. Gone are the days when all of your friends lived within minutes of you and had ample free time to hang out. We probably should have been studying instead, but again… C’s get degrees!
As an adult, you actually have to make plans… in advance… and travel further than 50 yards down the hall to see your friends. And it is very possible that all of your friends moved to different places or you moved to a new city where you have no friends. It’s like freshman year, round two!
As Charles Bradley put it, you’re going through changes (*cue the Big Mouth intro*).
And, we get it. Change isn’t for everyone. But the worst thing you can do as a new graduate is to try to hold onto your past. No matter how hard you try, the “real world” will not be college 2.0. And that is a good thing. Really! We promise. Brad from Sigma Apple Pie belongs in your past, hun.
Adultescence is supposed to be a time where you go through some tough stuff. You’re supposed to feel uncertain about your future and re-evaluate everything about who you are – because that’s where the growth happens. All that discomfort is a good sign that progress is being made. Or that you over-indulged on cheese last night. Did you forget your Lactaid again?!
Welcome to Adultescence!
The thing about adultescence is that it gets easier with time. Jobs get easier, bank accounts get larger, and rejection starts to hurt less. But perhaps one of the most helpful things to remember about adultescence is that everyone’s going through it, even if no one’s talking about it. It’s kind of like HPV in that sense, but you know, not a literal disease.
One of the toughest parts of adultescence is thinking that you’re the only one doing everything wrong. You’re not to blame for this – Instagram and LinkedIn are the evil step-sisters feeding you the poisoned apple that makes you think that you’re the only one who is anxious, uncertain about your career, and lonely.
But behind every LinkedIn post where your peer is bragging about their new job is a person who realized 6 months later that it’s not what they thought it would be. And behind the Instagram story of a fun night out is someone who feels like there must be more to life than drinking with people she’s not even sure that she likes.
This is the first time we’ll say that we’re pretty jealous of our Great Aunt Ethel right about now. She doesn’t even know how to create an email account. To her, FOMO sounds like a river in China. Lucky woman.
If you can relate to these feelings at all, we’re glad you’re here. Our podcast and blog originated in the hopes of making people like you feel a little less alone. We talk about the things your Great Aunt Ethel wouldn’t understand – from career struggles to tough living situations, falling-outs with friends and cringey dating stories, relationships, money problems and everything else you’ll encounter in adultescence.
Adultescence Isn’t All Bad
Adultescence can be an amazing time. It comes with independence and autonomy we’ve never had before. As we get older, we discover a stronger sense of who we are. You finally get to call the shots on things like where you want to live, who you want to spend your time with and the direction you want your career to go in – the world is truly yours for the taking!
We’re here to help you remove the burden of early adulthood before you develop permanent spinal damage from carrying it all. We know you admire your Great Aunt Ethel, but back pain is one area in which you and she can and should differ.
Welcome to Adultescence.
P.S. A can-opening tutorial will be coming soon to theaters near you. Until then, stick with ramen.
Check Out the Adultescence Podcast!
Here are some of our favorite episodes:
1. Welcome to Adultescence: an introduction to your hosts, Jess and Laura, and the concept behind adultescence.
2. The Comparison Trap: all about why we compare ourselves to others, why you should stop doing that, and tips on how to escape the trap.
3. Navigating Friendships in Early Adulthood: friendships change after college, and it’s challenging to accept that. We also give advice on how to make new friends.