The definition of adulthood has changed. The traditional markers of adulthood accepted by earlier generations—completing your education, leaving home, finding work, getting married and having children—no longer fit many young people’s lives, and that’s OK, Lythcott-Haims says.
“Today’s young adults have so many more freedoms available to them, and I think it’s time we had a definition of adulting that acknowledged that people lead different lives and that there isn’t a lockstep set of rules you have to adhere to in order to legitimately be an adult,” Lythcott-Haims said on a podcast. She defines adulthood as “that sweet, delicious set of independent years between childhood and death where we’re well and able to make our own way.”
For many young people, graduating, living on their own, starting their career and other transitions to adulthood can bring up feelings of anxiety, fear and loss, especially during the ongoing pandemic. They may benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist to help them process these feelings. Counselors can help young adults understand that “they’re not alone and that it totally makes sense to struggle right now. They also may be scared at feeling unsettled, which may be a new feeling for them,” said licensed professional counselor Patricia Anderson in an interview with Counseling Today.
Here are some resources to help young adults make their own way in the world.
As an adult, you are responsible for your own physical, mental and emotional well-being. Here are some resources that can help.
What to Expect When Going to Therapy for the First Time, Shondaland. This article offers tips and links for finding a therapist (including ones who specialize in serving clients of color or in the LGBTQ+ community), understanding their credentials and what to expect at your first appointment.
Types of Therapy, Psychology Today. From art therapy to trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, there is a specialty for every person and every need, as listed in this guide.
3 Things to Know Before You Pick a Health Insurance Plan, HealthCare.gov. Understanding health insurance can be challenging, whether you’re choosing an employer-sponsored plan or buying coverage individually. Find out about the different plan types (e.g., HMO vs. PPO), what your costs will be (e.g., what a premium and deductible are) and how to find out whether your doctors and medications are covered.
Healthy Eating for Young Adults, MyPlate.gov. Tips for maintaining a nutritious diet, including what to eat for protein, how much of your daily intake should be whole grains and which apps can help you shop for and prepare healthy foods.
Healthy Living in Your 20s, Office on Women’s Health. The Department of Health and Human Services offers this downloadable and printable checklist for healthy daily habits, tests to talk to your doctor about and more.
Sleep Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. As many as 1 in 3 adults do not regularly get enough uninterrupted sleep. Lack of sleep is linked to many chronic diseases, and it can impact work, school, driving and social interactions. Find out more about healthy sleep and sleep disorders.
So Money. This podcast hosted by Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert and CNET Money’s editor at large, covers a wide range of topics related to young adults, such as splitting expenses when living with a significant other and whether it’s recommended to take out a personal loan to pay for a wedding.
The College Investor Audio Show. This short-format podcast covers personal finance and investing topics ranging from getting out of student loan debt, to taking on a side hustle and earning more money, to learning to invest and build wealth.
What Is a Credit Score? You may have heard the terms “credit score” and “credit report,” but what do they mean and how do they impact your ability to open a credit card, take out a car loan or qualify for a mortgage? This article from ConsumerFinance.gov gives a good overview.
Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: What’s the Difference? Do they both charge fees and interest? Which is the better choice for building credit? What are the pros and cons of using one type of card versus the other? This article from Investopedia compares the two in detail.
Five Tips for When You Can’t Pay Your Bills. What happens if you don’t have enough money to pay your rent, electric bill, student loan payments, etc.? Ignoring them is not a good idea. This video from ConsumerFinance.gov outlines practical steps for prioritizing your bills, delaying payments and other actions you can take.
How Much Should I Spend on Rent? Before you sign the lease on an apartment, it’s a good idea to know your numbers: How much can you afford to spend on rent? What are your other monthly costs? Will where you live create other costs, such as commuting? This article from personal finance site Nerdwallet breaks down the math and offers ideas on how to make it work.
Free Budget Spreadsheets and Budget Templates. There are many different ways to budget and track where you spend your money, and many tools to help you do so. Nerdwallet’s roundup of free online tools including downloadable worksheets, apps and budget calculators is a good place to start.
Successful adulting requires understanding many things you might not have had to think about before you went out on your own: insurance, laundry, basic home maintenance and more. Luckily there are lots of resources to turn to for help.
The Ultimate First Apartment Checklist. Besides furniture and decor, you’ll need a number of essentials, such as clothes hangers, a can opener and a vacuum, to name a few. Real Simple has put together this room-by-room checklist you can print or save on your phone as you gather everything you need for your new space.
Auto Insurance Basics. If you are over 18, drive a car and no longer live at home, you will need to have auto liability insurance. Car insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage in case you are in an accident. This article explains the six different kinds of coverage that comprise a basic auto insurance policy and affect the cost.
Essential Things to Keep in Your Car. Besides a spare tire and your insurance info, what else should you have in your car? AAA lists what you’ll need for safety, on-the-go maintenance and protecting yourself from the elements on a road trip.
Essential Life Skills for Teens: The Laundry Episode. If you’ve never done your own laundry, you may not know whether you need to sort your clothes by color or type or how to set the washing machine to the right temperature. If you’re a visual learner, this video—part of a series by the Goffstown, N.H., Public Library—walks you through the steps.
Resources for Parents Whose Children Are Leaving Home
It can be challenging for caregivers to find the balance between helping prepare children for adulthood and over-stepping, particularly for parents of children with learning disabilities or those on the spectrum. Here are some articles and books that may be helpful.