O’Donnell: Strutting or stumbling into adulthood?


A.J.K O'Donnell, [email protected]

There was once a time when waking up in the morning may have included breakfast provided by the warm hands of a guardian’s care. Your coursework lasted until 5 at night, your heart was held by someone’s protection, and nothing seemed to be accompanied by fear in your mind. Life was a simple. Culmination of expressions for needs and wants, each either met or denied, but nonetheless you were not the sole owner of your entity.

Attendance at university is for many students the inaugural experience of “leaving” behind the familiar, the consistent, and embarking on a pathway that is inherently the creation of your own design. For some, this commencement of adulthood is novel, for others, adulthood manifested many years before your contemporaries. Whenever adulthood formulated for you specifically, there are variables that remain important across the entire spectrum of emotional, physical, and social growth for individuals functioning in society.

Contrary to popular belief, university is not “high school with dormitories.” High school was an academic and social microcosm, ordained by federal law and bureaucracy structured. You were fed coursework, disciplined in a fairly sheltered scope, and once on the Hawkeye sidewalks, your academic statistics became irrelevant. It is now solely the responsibility of students to handle their academic, social, and internal lifestyles. While it may seem daunting, providing oneself with ample networks of authentic self-care, preventative mindsets, and responsible decorum is essential to setting a stable foundation for adulthood.

According to the National Library of Medicine database, 75 percent of individuals who struggle with mental illnesses will experience onset symptoms by the age of 25. It is also common to see an increase in mental-health issues with college age individuals. The majority of mental-health illnesses reveal themselves during early adulthood. For students who have little to no support systems in place, this process of coping with struggles and stress become even more arduous. Rising above stigmas, entering into dialogues with yourself, cultivating support systems, and actively challenging these emotional road bumps is paramount for healthily transitioning into adulthood.

In the United States, if you are arrested and later convicted for a crime of any kind, your record becomes permanent. It is pivotal for individuals to recognize the importance of decisions and the lasting effects on one’s life. Conviction or arrest as an adult is handled far differently from those with minor status. Interactions with law enforcement, court systems, and legal services is now solely your responsibility. Not only do these proceedings potentially affect employment, academia, and future projections, but they are also areas of adulthood which can be subject to horrendous corruption and malpractice. As adults, it is of the utmost importance that you understand your rights in these situations, their functionalities, and how to conduct yourself in the legal arena. You have to know your plan and actions before a predicament occurs.

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