April 8, 2011 - submitted by Ana, United States of America

I turned 20 this summer and I'm having trouble getting used to not being a teen anymore. It makes me very sad sometimes. I think its because I'm a little scared about growing up and having all these responsibilities, like finding the right career and getting a good job. For some reason I feel really old sometimes, but then I feel like I'm not mature enough for my age. I'm just so confused. Did you go through this or am I the only one?

Really hope you answer this one.


The Oracle replies:

I find this interesting Ana because I myself do not recall having any feelings about leaving my teenage years behind. My twenties and thirties however...
Joking aside, in the last few years I have known two 19 year olds and they both had opposite views of turning 20. One couldn't wait to lose the word teen from the age and the other wanted to stay as a teenager and as you say, free from responsibility.
I'm a lot older than you and although I have obviously made many huge decisions regarding jobs, partners, homes etc. I promise you that I still have loads of fun acting the fool and being incredibly silly and perhaps even being immature. I'm an adult but I don't feel grown-up. It can be whatever you want it to be. There's a time and a place for it all of course but you will probably find as time goes on you will become more and more comfortable in your own skin. You will make mistakes; some you shall learn from. You may repeat mistakes but it's all part of life so don't worry too much. Try not to put pressure on yourself. Embrace your age but remember it's a number of years you have been on the earth. A birthday doesn't have to result in immediate maturity. Just be yourself and let things evolve in their own natural time. Over to you...

I definitely felt/feel the same, while I was even younger. Discussing politics with your friend's parents can do that (and then there's those moments where I wish I were still in Kindergarten so I could just go crazy with a set of crayons). So we've established you aren't alone, but it doesn't solve your problem. My advice: "People don't grow up, they grow old". "You are as young/old as you feel". Pursue the things that you love as long as you still can. Happy people are successful ones (in all aspects) and some I know have had three careers before settling. Love & Live! Ness.

What you are experiencing is totally natural! I freaked out at about 22 when I finished uni. However, now that I'm looking back, two years later, I realize that it helped me mature. It was a natural process that I had to go through in order to grow up and find my way in life. I know it is very scary right now but give it time and you'll see. These 'adult stuff' that you have to deal with are like riding a bike (such a cliche I know!) It seems difficult at first but all you have to do is climb on that bike, have someone hold you for a while and then you'll do it all by yourself and feel foolish for being scared in the first place. Good luck and I'll see you at the finish line. Good luck! Ira from Greece.

What a beautiful state of being Ana, if you were my sister I would hug you and congratulate you in your insight of what it is to grow and be YOUR own person in this world.
The insecurities and confusion I found, come from trying to fit into expectations that we hold on ourselves based on beliefs that we learn in our societies.
The truth I hold onto every time I feel like you, is: everything is relative, and the only point of reference that matters is your soul. Be yourself and see happiness. I have shared the feelings you experience, every time something changes and decisions need to be made. That is just life. The trick is, to know yourself and be sure not to confuse who you are with what the outside world says you are. Take good care. Monica.

Fear not, Ana..you're not alone on this for i've been having a quite similar issue. I'm 22 but i still feel like i'm supposed to be 14. Responsibilities do get bigger as we grow up, like you said, finding a right job. Honestly, I can't give you any advice on this but I've got to tell you that maturity is something that comes to you naturally as you go through this life, no matter how old you are. So, be positive and think positively about your life, do what you really want to do, if you have to get a job, then get a job that really suits you and makes you comfy because life is too short to waste on unnecessary blues. Life will shape your mind, change your way of seeing & judging things and make you a mature person. Cheers. Your friend, Denny.

It's natural to be fearful at times during our lives. I certainly do feel a little fearful on occasion. I'm an older adult (I'm 37) and have been through a divorce, have three children, work, etc. and I do think sometimes about how life is overwhelming when there are so many things to be responsible for.
But, when I feel this way, I face the fear by understanding how great it is that I am an adult and have choices and I look back on my life to see the accomplishments that have gotten me this far.
My teenage daughter is almost 14, and about two weeks ago, before bed, she confided in me that she was afraid of growing up.
I told her this: (with a smile:) Don't be afraid, you have your whole life ahead of you, growing up is exciting and it is a great thing! You have the freedom to choose; to be yourself, to grow and to experience life.
The best thing for young people who are growing up is that if you play your cards right, your life will be wonderful.
Be responsible, make good choices, work hard and this can be a fun adventure!
Just remember, don't let the fear get to you. Hear it when it arrives, address it briefly-discuss it with someone you trust then go back to what you were doing! I hope this helps. Amber.

I think everyone is scared to grow up. To be standing on their own feet and have to do it by themselves.
It's a view the general population have towards age. In the Netherlands there was a famous writer. She wrote beautiful children stories, songs, musicals, screenplays etc. On her 85th or 90th birthday they asked her in an interview how she stayed so alert, so good with her brain. Her answer? She refused to grow up. She never forgot how it was to be a child, to cherish that inner child and how it was to play.
And that's exactly the balance we have to find. To be grown up enough to make our own well thought of decisions. It doesn't mean you can't make mistakes, that's a very good way to learn. Never forget your inner child and how you can be surprised with a fresh flower, enjoy the sun, how to run threw the park and play with the wind.
Growing up, means that you're strong enough to be responsible for your own actions.
So try to think before you act, without loosing spontaneity. Stay honest, be true to your friends. Be kind to strangers. Be loving to the ones close to you.
Just be you, do your best, thats good enough. Shiatsuca

If I know anything for sure Ana, it's this: no one is alone in this world in anything. So, answering your question - I'm sure that you're not the only one going through something like this at your age.
Fear is a natural thing Ana and to fear the future is something almost everyone does. 
You've left your teens behind and that is sad and responsibilities like career, etc. are scary but try looking at the positive side of things. When you do find the 'right' career, you will earning a living out of something you thoroughly enjoy doing. And that's pretty damned great feeling. It begins with a feeling of independence and comfort and confidence. Trust me!
I too, was terrified about the various responsibilities. As I turned twenty, everyone around me made it seem like a very important milestone in life. May be it is one. But Ana, you have nothing to worry about.
Also, the fact that you're conscious of things like maturity means that you are pretty mature yourself. TC.

Ana, that is what life is about. Getting older, burning each phase you're living. My advice would be to enjoy the ride, take it on a day by day basis, but always be awake and aware of where do you picture yourself in 5 or even ten years. Everyone has to start building at some point who they really want to be in this world. On the other hand, you're still very young so don't miss the fun. At your age, it is normal to feel old sometimes and very young in other occasions. I think we all have been there sometime. So really don't worry. Keep up the hard work to find the right career and job, and always remember that it is not a big problem when we make a mistake. That's how we learn. Wishing you all the best today and the rest of your days. Mariano from Caracas, Venezuela.

Ana you are not the only one. Most people are scared about growing up! Getting old sucks! Get yourself a job and a good man and have fun as much as you can. Do you think I like getting up for work every morning at 6 going to a job that I hate? NOOOOOO, but you know what it pays the bills. Most people don't like their job so don't worry about it. Life is short enjoy it as much as you can! Gregory.

No you're not the only person to be worried about growing up and what is in store for you in the future, to be honest life is full of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but the main focus here is your own happiness and well being. You will discover that not everything you do will go according to plan, we are tested in life, sometimes for the good, but not always. You shouldn't put yourself under pressure into thinking all these things need to happen in the near future. Growing up is a long process and your final destination is a long way from this point in time. Give yourself time to find a job you love, it doesn't always happen now. I've had many jobs over the years and at 38 yrs old finally discovered a job I love. Now at 41 am thriving in life and finally feel that I have reached my peak of growing up. I am now content and happy with life. Please just take your time and truly discover who you are and where you want to be in 20 years time, enjoy your life while you can. Goodluck, Maria.

When you're feeling scared of growing up it's a good indication because you're in the process of growing up yourself.
It's better that you're feeling scared of growing up than just scared of growing old, those two are really far apart. All grown-up people around you also went through this stage, even grown-ups still learn how to be a grown-ups. Warna.

I'm 21, and I distinctly remember being in your shoes not very long ago.
I've always been a little too old for my skin, but there are times when I'd look back and wonder if I was missing something. There are also times when I can literally feel myself growing up, and yes, they are a little unnerving. But for the most part (I know this sounds cliche) as long as you're enjoying where you are in life, there's not much point in worrying about it. Rhiannon.

I found this to be a little crazy. My name is also Ana, and those are the exact thoughts going through my head. Don't be nervous, you're not alone.

I turned 20 a little over a month ago and I totally understand what you're saying. I sometimes don't feel my age either; I wish I could just be happy with it. But I've realized that fighting it won't make me feel any better. It's scary for me because this is the first time I've been made to look beyond college, almost because I'm in a new decade of my life. But I'm not going to worry-just because something is new doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be awful. Life isn't perfect, but it is great. And as I get older, I'll notice new things, learn more things, meet more people than I can imagine...it's the fear of the unknown and of change that paralyzes me, feeling so small in such a big world. But when you're paralyzed into not doing anything, all the joy is sucked out of your life. You've got to take control of it yourself, and purposefully live it. It's your world, after all-you've got to shape it, or someone else will. And it's not as big as you'd think. Lacy.

You're not alone Ana, I'm 19 and I already feel weird. But hey, its life. We are supposed to feel this way and worry about important things. I think it wouldn't be right not to worry and think that everything will come to us, instead of us going after our dreams. - Erica.

You are definitely not alone in this! I've been feeling the exact same way lately. I'm turning 19 next week and I just finished my first year of university but I almost feel like it was a waste of a year. I still don't know what direction to take my studies or where I should head next. The idea that the decisions that I'm making now set the framework for my life really freaks me out. I also feel like I'm just not mature enough to make these decisions yet. That I'm still just a kid with wild dreams and that I don't want to come around to this more adult life. Although I'm feeling really confused I turn to my friends and family to help me through. I think that maybe the fact that I still feel like such a dreamer, a little kid, tells me that maybe I should embrace it and go for that unrealistic goal that I'm always thinking of. Maybe not everyone goes through this but I am, and I hope that we both are able to work our way through. Love, Monique.

My name is Agata, I'm from Poland and I turned 20 in March. Believe me, you're not the only one feeling this way. I don't know what advice should I give you 'cause I have none for myself. Sometimes it's very frustrating when I can't make an important decision on my own. When I'm at the crossroads, it's always like 'Mom what should I do?!'. No self-reliance. It scares me sometimes. The best advice I can give you is to try very hard to rely on yourself in every day life situations. You need to get more self-confidence and start to trust yourself more. We won't escape adult life responsibilities, we must learn to handle them. Moreover, your loved ones will be supporting you whenever you need it. This fear of being of a mature person will die out with time. I really do believe that. We'll manage.

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