Posted inCommunity, Headline News, Living

Preparing for Adulthood

By Sarai Murdock
Life comes with certain experiences nobody can escape, adulthood is being one of them. The transition from being treated like a minor to being treated like an adult can be exciting but also comes with scary and uncomfortable beginnings.
Forty-seven states, and Washington DC, consider 18 the “age of majority” which signifies that you are no longer considered a minor and legally have the rights and responsibilities of an “adult.” From that point is when most people begin to take on the journey of independence and maturity which comes with a whole new set of experiences. This journey can look different for everyone depending on your upbringing and environment.
“Growing up I thought being grown was more relaxed and laid back,” said 22-year-old De’Von Means. 21-year-old Andrew Easterling, a college junior, agrees. He thought that adulthood would be a bit more carefree and consist more of partying and staying out late. “ I see now that there’s actually just a lot more responsibilities and there’s just always some different obstacle happening every day and it’s just about navigating through those,” he said.
“The first thing I noticed was people definitely view you differently, you’re not a kid anymore so nobody expects you to have that kid mindset. So it’s definitely a big expectation,” said 19-year-old actor Jeremy Murray. Dashiah Welch, a 21-year-old nursing assistant and model, says for her it was eye-opening having to learn more about herself, her goals, and the type of people she wanted to be surrounded with as an adult. “Learning who you are as a person, figuring out what it is that you really wanna do with your life because I feel like that’s a recurring thing as well in some adults when you just don’t know what you really wanna do.”
One big difference between being a minor and becoming an adult is work and income. In a world that experiences capitalism, this can be very hard for upcoming adults just stepping their foot in the door of financial stability. According to Forbes, the average annual salary in the U.S. is less than $60,000 per year. “We are out here paying to breathe damn near. I make my guests walk around my house with candles, like do not turn them expensive lights on. But in all seriousness, the bills were the first thing I noticed about adulthood, something is always due,” said 20-year-old Shylynn Gordon.
“The amount of financial responsibility compared to what we make and how much work we put in is way out of whack,” said 26-year-old Darnese Birch. “A lot of the facade or fantasy I guess of everything being figured out and having a career has to do with movies and TV shows and then later as I got in my teens and college years that’s when social media became more prevalent, so social media kind warped that whole perception of being an adult, it’s so much pressure around your early 20’s/ mid 20’s to have your career and to make like $70,000 a year, have a big family or big house, and have all these nice things but that’s not the reality at all,” she said.
In the past few years, social media has grown exponentially. Some of the most popular social media apps consist of TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. On TikTok, you can come across millions of different users from all around the world. Lifestyle videos and content have become more popular where content creators will take videos of what a day in their life looks like, how much money they spend in a day, and the kind of lifestyle they are living. In today’s time, people now have different opportunities to make an income through social media content. Constantly seeing so many young people live a lifestyle that you perceive as “better” than your own can impact self-esteem.
“Adulthood makes me feel anxious,” said  Shylynn Gordan. “I also compare what I’m doing and what I see others doing. It always puts me in a down mood and I shut down for a few days. I definitely take more self-care/mental days to try to stay sane.”
The question is, are young people being properly prepared for adulthood, and if not, what is the contributing factor to this issue? “A lot of people be in their own world and they really don’t pay attention to the youth and the youth needs us, just like we need them. They teach us, we teach them, they’re showing us something new,” said
Dashiah Welch. “Putting more programs in the school, more programs, clubs, communities, I mean just building a community, somebody just stepping up front.” She believes that this society needs the right group of people to build up the youth, especially when it comes to the teachers and leaders in school. “Everybody is not fit for that role. But somebody that’s really trying to put power and build them to be better than what they are or just in general just being a better person, being smart, being knowledgeable.”
Darnese Birch offers a different perspective to the conversation. “Kinda goes back to your village, your family, your friends, I feel like we could do a better job at holding one another accountable rather than putting the power into systems like schools.” She believes we should build community within our neighborhoods. “My biggest thing is our older generation or our parent’s parents will always be like ‘yeah these new kids coming up they don’t do this they don’t do that’ but it’s just like what are they being taught? Are they coming home with these different little things that they picked up, are you correcting them, are you nipping them in the butt, are you building community with your neighbors, are you building these after-school programs for kids for financial literacy or how to handle certain things and prep for adulthood?”
With all that said, what are some things that older teens about to enter adulthood can do and expect?
Save and Build Money
“Save, Save, Save! Sometimes you don’t need to buy the new iPhone or clothes every week. It’s better to have something put up for emergencies or rainy days and not have to call on nobody to help,” said Shylynn Gordon, a 20-year-old entrepreneur.
“Save your money, you never know what could happen. You might not have nobody to turn to but if you know you’re good with that money and you got money in your pocket you gon’ always, forever, be good,”  said Dashiah Welch, a 21-year-old nurse assistant and model.
Focus and stay prepared
“Work on your time management and organization skills. You gotta know how to be adaptable with things,” said Andrew Easterling, a 21-year-old college film major.
“Focus on what’s in front of you.” said De’von Means, a 22-year-old model.
“When you’re focused, you’re more in tune and you’re more tapped into the world, more than a lot of people are. I feel like a lot of people aren’t tapped into what’s really going on so as long as you stay focused, as long as you stay happy, everything’s gonna be okay,” said Jeremy Murray, a 19-year-old college student/actor.
Continue to Be Yourself
“Be yourself and do whatever it is that you wanna do no matter how crazy it sounds and save your money,” said Darnese Birch, a 26-year-old videographer/photographer.
Sarai Murdock, born in New York and raised in Cleveland, is a local journalist, multi-disciplinary artist, and the young author of Bully Free Zone: How to Stand Up for Yourself.