No ones holding your hand: A minor to adulthood

A minor going into adulthood. It is, without a doubt, a scary transition. It is one of those things we all do, but in terms of how we cope with it, that varies dramatically.

Thinking about the future, and what you want to achieve, seems to be a lingering pressure throughout the school years. How am I going to get there? What if I don’t enjoy it? Why do I have to think about this right now? Just a few of the questions that would constantly be spiralling at a young age. I remember the leaflets and talks about university, but mental health and discovering what you wanted to do
organically, didn’t seem to get much coverage.

During my school years, I was predicted to fail all of my academic subjects. Those “predicted grades’ ‘ felt like I already had a failure stamp on my head, and I would be trying for no legitimate reason. It is disheartening, the fact that we are made to feel validated on the dependency of a few numbers and words.

Although I argued the fact that I had a failure established, prior to even taking my exam, I soon realised that I would be the only one affected if I did not try. Teachers are there to help you and support you, however the “real work” must come from us. I started to reticent the fact that school was a place of judgment, so it felt at the time.

My mum was and still is my biggest support system. Every Saturday morning, we would drive to another school for Maths intervention. I was so determined to prove the predicted grades wrong that I gave up my Saturday morning, replacing it with a morning coffee and a maths class. I really tried to see the longevity here, but I was struggling to see how this was going to help me live a happy and sustainable life as I
branch into adulthood. It is completely understandable and it saddens me, that for those in education that struggle with academics, will be fazed by the pass and fail print on their exams.

All of those other avenues that can paint an excitable future, do
not seem to be discussed. Networking, creating, communicating, and accessing opportunities on offer for young people 16-25, are all amazing avenues into the creative industry.
Differentiating between what you should do, and what you want to do, seem like the hardest choices when put under pressure. I always craved a mentor, somebody who I could have regular communication with about potential options. After speaking to my friends, some wanted to go to university and had a clear goal, and others felt that University was the “safer option”.

 

I was somewhere in the middle. I had always loved the arts, writing and music specifically, but there was and still is, no structure to
getting there. No ones holding our hand anymore.

Where is the real guidance?

After leaving school at 18, I took a gap year. As a way of coping through the uncertainty and reality that I am now an adult, I worked long hours to fill any thought process. I didn’t want to think about what I wanted or where I wanted to go because it felt too daunting to process alone. I worked in a nursery for my gap year. Working with children kept me pregnant and stimulated. I used my
creative passions to help with their development too. This job taught me so much about being in the moment with people. There was no time to think about where I was going next, but I was aware that once my gap year had ended, I would need to start planning properly.

Suddenly, those years at school felt like a lifetime ago.
In a world where we can access stories into other people’s lives via social media, I felt myself comparing myself to what my friends were doing. Their days looked fuller and fun, filled with people and comfort, while I was in a state of uncertainty. Social media’s biggest misconception is that it can make a situation look glorified, and frames a completely different reality. Regardless, I fell into this feeling of inferiority
and I couldn’t seem to shift it.

Retreating to my own bubble was a bittersweet choice. I felt so disconnected to my friends and it felt like their lives were moving forward, far quicker than mine.

We need to practice Self Care

What even is self care? We didn’t learn that in school. Is it something we need to practice? There may have been stages in my life when I would simply laugh off the idea of self care, assuming it is just laziness, an excuse even. An excuse not to do something.

In recent months, as we have eased out of lockdown, self care seems to be a topic of conversation. When people opt out to meeting up, there seems to be a bigger level of understanding. It is almost like people are accepting the fact that when someone says no to meeting up, it is not a personal attack, but may be a decision that is based on an individual’s mental health. During the lockdown series, self care was a necessity, to keep us all afloat. Whether this would be a walk in the park, a
form of exercise or cooking, all of our priorities had shifted. I reflected back on the years leading up to me leaving school, in constant fear about “an end goal”.

Lockdown slowed the pace down. Being so wrapped up in a time frame, really limited to the ability to be creative in an organic way. It was not until lockdown, that I  had space, real space to exhale and think about what I want, not because of an end goal, but because it would be what I enjoy.

I wish I had learned this in school. It is so important. I used to think that self care looked like taking a bath with a face mask, and at times it is. Adulthood seems to require a different kind of self care. It’s not always a pretty picture, but just saying “no ” to certain invites or events. Now, I enjoy my writing and my music, and the process.

I’m not overwhelmed with where I am going to be, and how that may look compared to other people’s progress. As a society, we need to expose people to self care and misconception that comes with “looking successful”. If we can encourage discussions like this in schools, the transition, from a minor to adulthood, may be
more exciting, rather than daunting.

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