Adultolescence. I have heard this hybrid of adult and adolescence used to describe a “new nomenclature for thirty-somethings that just won’t grow up.” I have also heard that this word was coined specifically to describe the life phase of those recent college graduates who have moved back in with their parents, or those who are still receiving financial support from family.
I like the term. I think of it as the perfect word to describe the phase I am currently in, or very near entering – that murky, uncertain purgatory between college life and the great unknown, real world.
Think for a minute about the hubbub that surrounds the term “adolescence.” Our culture tends to focus on the extremely rocky teenage years and the struggle to define oneself separate from one’s family. We are drilled about the dangerous pitfalls along the way that could lead to numerous unhealthy habits.
Not too long after the start of this stage of development comes the craziness that we are all too familiar with: applying to college, We were all asked where we were applying so many times during this process that it may have made some of us question whether the whole college thing was even worth it in the end. The GPAs, SATs, APs, guidance counselors, college guide books and college talk, in general, formed a religion for my dedicated parents and those of my friend’s.
The adolescent turbulence continues for the first year at school, one in which everyone makes a fuss about the huge transition: leaving family and high school friends, and coping with homesickness. By the time we are second semester seniors, we are prepared to be launched into society as comfortable, self-assured, directed and well-learned adults. That’s the goal, anyway.
Yes, I am ready to exit the warm, safe Colgate environment. Another year in Hamilton isn’t particularly appealing. However, it seems to me that the transition I am about to experience will be my toughest yet.
First, there is the issue of deciding what it is I want to do next year; no longer is there a prescribed path as there has been in the past. Are we thinking grad school? Law school? Work experience? And where? What coast? In this Country? Back in the UK, where I studied abroad? Somewhere entirely new and different? The unlimited possibilities are exciting, but simultaneously daunting and sometimes flat-out overwhelming.
And that’s just step one. Having opted for the job search myself, I have discovered that the networking calls, informational interviews, phone interviews, tailored cover letters, emails to possible employers, company research and formal applications suddenly make it seem as if I am registered for five courses, instead of four, this semester.
Next, there is the issue of housing. I don’t want to live at home. Yeah, it’s a pride thing. I’ve been living on my own for four years now, and to think of Mom doing my laundry again and not making what I want for dinner will be tough. Plus, it’s important to me to prove that I can make it financially on my own, even if it does mean pinching pennies whenever possible and giving up amenities that I have grown accustomed to.
Now we’ve covered just the basics. So many other adjustments need to be made. My social life will no doubt be different. Assuming I’m able to leave the warm confines of Mom and Dad’s home and scrape together enough cash to pay for a bathroom/kitchen/bedroom (yep, all rolled into one) in Brooklyn, my life will be drastically different from the one I currently lead in Hamilton.
Most likely, I will socialize with people outside my work. I often take for granted the fact that I am surrounded by people my own age 24/7. We live, take classes, eat and work out with all of my friends all the time. Next year will present a challenge to fit in a social life, since it will not occur as naturally as it does now.
These challenges are just a few looming in the very near future, and I am quite sure that many more will arise. Surviving adolescence seems like a breeze compared to this rocky stage of “adultolescence” that I, and the rest of the senior class, are now entering. Perhaps all we can do is remind ourselves that we’ve gotten this far, and chances are, we’ll find some success, or at the very least some self-fulfillment, as we struggle through the next stage of our lives.