Here’s For The Ones Who Dream

Let’s talk about the pressures that come with being a young adult in college

The college experience is supposed to be this grand time where young people finally venture out into adulthood—and it is. One day you’re 18 graduating high school and all of a sudden you’re almost 20 trying to figure out how taxes work. As little kids we want to grow up so bad just so we can finally be taken seriously and feel a breeze of independence. Now we’re on our own with what seems like high winds. And yet that’s the scariest part.

We’re on our own.

Or at least that’s what it feels like. We’re not syncopated to the paths of everyone else now; what our Unified School District planned out for us this year. It’s now up to us, and that’s a scary thing to think about as a young adult. It will probably never stop being scary. Having to juggle the workload of college classes while managing a minimum wage job, that you wish you could quit, can be a hard life to handle. Since our parents can’t pay for everything in our lives anymore, trying to have a social life and a stable grasp on our mental health can feel impossible.

There’s this unspoken rule of a timeline that we’re all supposed to follow. You go to school with a dream job in mind, get your driver’s license at 16 or 17, graduate at 18, then go to college. After graduating college by 21 you get married by your mid-20s, have children, work, and then you die. As dramatic as it sounds it’s what we’ve been conditioned to think is our destined path.

Being a young adult is such a weird demographic because at the age of 20 you have people who are going to school and working full-time to pay rent. At the same time there are also people of that same age who don’t have their licenses yet, and have been undecided on their major since they started college. It’s human nature for us to compare ourselves to others; what they’ve already accomplished versus what you’ve accomplished. 19-year-old psychology major Elizabeth Medina said, “I think society has put so much pressure on us to meet certain milestones at a certain age when we have our whole lifetime to meet certain goals we want to do.”

With the pandemic in mind, it has become even tougher and more unconventional which has left everyone’s lives in a neverending chokehold.

Students lost their prom, their graduation ceremony, and a whole year of socialization and new experiences. Now all of a sudden we’ve been thrown into the real world expected to know what to do. It’s a scary thing in itself because whether you started attending college during the pandemic or not, everyone has had the scary realization that they don’t completely know what they’re doing. In college everyone is just trying to figure themselves out. This is why everyone has changed, or at least considered changing their major at least a couple of times.

For most people, their parents are some of the most important people in their lives, and want nothing more than to make them proud. Especially if those parents came from nothing and worked endlessly for their children to live a good life. There can also be this added pressure if you’re a first generation college student with siblings that look up to you. It can even be harder if you have older siblings that’ve gone off to have really good careers. This is why it may not be the easiest decision to drop out no matter how tempting it may be.

Nathaly Hernandez, 19, English major, reflects on her pressures on being the youngest of three and seeing her brothers have good careers after attending Mt. SAC. “There is that pressure of me going into a good school, doing well, and being successful. And then getting a job, making money, and making my parents happy that I’m doing good in life. It’s scary.”

Everyone’s circumstances are different. Our lives can change so quickly, and all of a sudden you need to adapt to new changes. In the end we’re supposed to do what makes us happy no matter what the career. As long as you’re doing what feels right, that’s all that matters. If what feels right to you now doesn’t feel right later in the long run, that’s okay. The path to our own definitions of success is anything but linear. Nothing is set in stone and there’s always opportunities out there for you.

You’re going to be okay.