A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime

Logo

Becoming an Adult

Seasons of Life

There are four major seasons of life. Each of these have fundamentally different challenges and opportunities. The season is inevitable because our lives are not static but constantly changing.

As life changes, so do all of the details that affect our daily living. Just as the weather patterns change in predictable ways, our experience will follow predictable patterns. These seasons of life must be understood in order to adapt properly to them.

Read the article entitled Seasons of Life" to get a general overview.

What makes an adult?

There are many possible answers to this question.  I've been pondering this for years as I consider my own journey and that of my kids. The most satisfying answer is related to the attitudes that we have about our relationship with others.

The journey to adulthood is arduous and dangerous and filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  No one would embark on that journey unless the alternative is even worse.  Our teen years are governed by the choices of others.  Our parents and others in society take care of our needs and provide protection.  We all develop a belief that it is our right to be cared for by others; it is their job.  We call this entitlement.

For some this is a place of comfort and safety and an arrangement that we would wish to retain for the rest of our life.  For others this becomes increasingly difficult to maintain.  When others provide the resources for life they want to control the decisions that we make.  This loss of autonomy creates a great deal of anger and conflict.

Moment of Decision

There comes a point in every person's life, when it becomes unacceptable to have other people making decisions for me.  This realization of the need for independence is strong enough to provide the motivation to break free.   Committing to the battle for independence replaces the desire for the comfort and safety of adolescence.  It is simply not an option to let others control my life.  I will do what it takes to become successful or die trying.

The moment of clarity is the beginning of the journey of adulthood. Succeeding at the journey will likely take another twenty years.  But I believe that a person becomes an adult when they commit themselves to the difficult climb toward independence and taking responsibility for themselves and others.

When this happens depends on the life circumstances  and personality of each person. Some people can delay adulthood well into their thirties or forties, while others cross this threshold early in their teens. In general, hardship in childhood forces a younger adulthood.  Keep in mind that it is the mental attitude of taking responsibility that makes one an adult, not  success in living out the life.

Family Life

Early adulthood is concerned with two main arenas: Work and Family.  Both of these areas have many choices with lifelong implications.  Decisions that are made about marriage and kids will determine the nature of the rest of our lives. Some decision are irrevocable, while others are minor and can be changed later.

Our concepts about sexuality and identity greatly affect the decisions in ways that we are often unaware of.   We bring lots of baggage from our family of origin into the life that we are trying to create.   Many of us struggle to overcome bad decisions that we have made early in our adult years.  Often we simply lacked the maturity to think clearly until choices has been made.

It does not matter whether you would make the same choices again or if you regret the decisions that were made.  There is no value in dreaming about time travel and "what if" scenarios.  What's done is done.  Now, how do you move forward.

There is value in reviewing the past decisions that are  reversible.  Most of the choices that we make in life have a small impact.  This lets us change most of the aspects of life if we see a better way.  This is especially true in relationships.  Most broken relationships can be repaired and all relationships can be improved.   It just requires the motivation and maturity to try.

Work Life

Another key aspect of the adult journey is developing a career path.  Many new adults feel tremendous pressure to predict what their career path will be.  This is rarely possible and there is very little value in creating a illusion of confidence.

Early in your adult journey you need to develop an understanding of what your strengths and limitations are on a personal level.  This will set the guidance for the potential career paths that you would consider.  Each career will have training requirements that will qualify you to get a job in that arena.

Skills give you the ability to contribute to the goals of others.   People will hire you to do work when you prove that you are capable of adding value to their business.  Learning the required skills and finding an opportunity to use them is an extremely difficult undertaking for most people.

Young adults face many years of trial and error before things begin to click.  Committing to the journey is essential and flexibility and resilience are the keys to pushing through to success.

Battle for independence

The struggle is the journey and the road is not easy.  But at the end lies true happiness and joy. Creating a meaningful work life and a meaningful family life is the heart of the American Dream.  We eventually learn to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from success and find out what works for us.

At this time of life the pressures and demand of others are limitless.  Our ability to thrive depends on our capability of prioritizing and balancing the needs of others with our own internal needs.  This is easier said than done.  It is also a constantly moving target with the world in motion around us.

As we reach the breaking point, we must step back and simplify our lifestyle.  This usually involves saying "No" to more things in order to create margin in our life.