7 Reasons Why Adulting Is Scary – Every Young Person Should Know

why adulting is scary

As you transition into a young adult, you may want to know why adulting is scary? Many full-grown adults may be perplexed by this fact, but it is a very real phenomenon that today’s young, as in the earlier days, transitioning into a young adult was a lot easier. Parents were there to assist you, other adults felt a responsibility to support you, and there were programs and systems in place to guide you and the world, which used to be a lot friendlier, did not seem like it was trying to trap you.

So, why is adulting scary today? The answer is simple, in an information-driven world, kids are more aware of the responsibilities and legalities that they have to face as full adults. They are also equally aware of what they should be doing to live the lifestyles they have chosen for themselves. This creates a heightened expectation of who they should be and what they should be doing. Unpreparedness for the realities of adulthood creates in young people higher rates of anxiety and depression than was seen a few decades ago.

Further young adults are more aware of the consequences of failure to meet the expectations or strict penalties that follow what this young generation may consider soft violations or having fun. And as society, parents, and peers, hold them to a higher standard of responsibility, they become more aware of the consequences of non-compliance. For instance, a 21-year birthday celebration that ends in arrest for DUI and many times, incarceration, such an experience will always serve as an eye-opener to the scary world of adulthood.

Below Are 7 Main Reasons Why Adulting is Scary

Before jumping into the discussion on why adulting is scary, let me first address a popular question, “What is Adulting?” Adulting is a state of mind that young adults adopt to help them transition from adolescents to full-grown adults. I refer to Adulting as a state of mind, because, while young adults may feel more comfortable to slowly transforming into full-bloom adults, society as a whole sees them as adults, and hold them to such a standard.

In other words, “adulting” as a phase may seem great if you don’t get into trouble, but if you do, you are an adult.



Responsibility is one of the top reasons why adulting is scary. As mentioned earlier, young adults are held to a higher level of responsibility. Suddenly, people (including your parents) expect you to know how to write a check, pay bills, qualify for credit, and so much more. A few years ago, you were kicked out of your parent’s health insurance plan once you turned 21. This simply means that you went from seeing a pediatrician to full-grown, just by turning a birthday.

The amount of responsibility young adults come to face can be overwhelming. Some will help soften the blow by taking on a few bills, until the child is stable or by preparing them for what to expect.

Heightened Legal Culpability

The law looks at adults as mature enough to make good decisions, and as a result, they will punish them when they do not. I gave an example in a paragraph above of the rude awakening that comes with getting arrested for DUI on one’s 21st birthday, and I used this example intentionally, as many young adults don’t think of the implications until they are arrested. According to bactrak.com, “The highest percentage of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes during 2010 was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (34%)”. Armed with such statistics, can you imagine the system being lenient with 21-year-old drivers.

But legal responsibility does not end with drunk driving or even its consequences. For instance, how many young adults drive without insurance, simply because they cannot afford it. The consequences of doing so, when caught can be dire. Also, what if sign a property agreement, but wish to back out of it? What could happen to you if you were in a car accident? Or even what are the consequences of having sexual relations with a minor?

Young adults should be prepared for legal responsibility by learning as much as they can about laws that are relevant to their issues, and should do so long before they attain adulthood.

Not Enough Time to Think of Becoming an Adult

Many young adults say that why adulting is scary is because they feel rushed into it. The period between middle school and high school for most young children seems to pass like a breeze. One day you are a child going on vacation with your parents, and having everything purchased for you that you need, and next, you are off to college alone with everyone having high expectations of your performance, your future, and your present.

Many young adults don’t think that they are given enough time to think of adulting before they fall into that phase.

There seems to be a lot of pressure for young kids in high school to know what they want, who they want to become, and how they will do it. Parents want their children to have high grades, graduate top of their class and go on to Ivy League schools to become high-earning professionals. While they may be well-meaning, children may overlook the guidance of parents as demanding. Again, having to live up to such expectations may result in anxiety and depression.

Parents should be aware of the level of anxiety that goes on in transitioning from youth to adult and serve as a support to their children and not part of the pressure that they are already feeling. Parents should learn to listen to their children and offer as much support as possible to help them make their own decisions.


is becoming an adult scary

Be it making a new friend or finding a significant other, relationships become more complex as adolescents transition into young adults. This is another reason why adulting is scary.

As individuals transition into young adults, relationships become more mature. More mature relationships are demanding commitment, time, and affection, which many young adults may not be prepared for. Many are scared to grow relationships as they may not be confident in who they have become.

For young people, relationships are more of a challenge, as places to hang out have slowly moved to virtual spaces rather than physical places. There are a lot of places to make friends online such as games, social media, and online parties. Dating is more rampant online too. The major challenge is that many individuals who forge romantic relationships online, find that face-to-face, they may not feel the same way about the person they dating.

From parents to parental figures and counselors, there is lots of help for young adults who find themselves in first-time relationships.

Financial Responsibility

Adulting is scary because of heightened financial responsibility. Who wants to deal with costs if they could avoid them? Certainly not any young adult, but attaining this age group, you are suddenly faced with all sorts of costs.

Many young adults cannot wait to get old enough to move out of their homes, only to find out that the cost of doing so can quickly become overwhelming. From rent and car payments to utilities to all sorts of insurance, young adults quickly come to discover that full-bloom adults are not living in a world of frills and cocktails.


Financial responsibility is a big deal, as parents slowly start to nip at that umbilical cord, as strive to free themselves of costs associated with grown children, but more importantly to ensure that the young adult can fend for themselves.

Most parents will support their young adults through college if they choose this route. But for the most part, once a child graduates from high school and is working, there is an expectation that they should be able to take care of financial responsibilities that pertain to themselves.

Higher Education

The cost and difficulty of attending college are one of the main reasons why adulting is scary.

Most parents expect their children to attend college, but many do not plan adequately for the costs associated with higher education. While there are school loans, grants, and scholarships available to assist students with the cost of attending school, many students may not understand how to get their hands on actual assistance.

Also, students may rush into believing they want to become something that they have been told all their lives. But once they get into college and actually start understanding the career path they have chosen, they change their minds. Sometimes this may cause friction between parents and young adults and in extreme circumstances, may result in the young adults choosing a path they have no interest in, or severing relationships with parents.

Permanent Changes

why is adulting scary

Permanent changes can come too quickly, and this is one of the reasons why adulting is scary. Think of all the things that can happen to an individual between high school and college. I will list a few, first job, driving, standardized tests, first relationship, moving out, first major purchase (typically a car), first experience with bills, the possibility of having your first child, first driving ticket, and this list could go on.

Young adults go through a great number of firsts, but many become permanent, with some being quite scary, and others not so. Still, so many changes in so little time, especially in a world that has become quite isolating for young people, can be quite stressful. Understanding principles of adulting, such as failure to launch syndrome, can help you prepare adequately.

When planned properly and with the right support, adulting is not so scary as the youth is guided through one phase to the next by individuals who understand what they are going through.

How Do You Make Adulting Less Scary?

Most young adults that ask, Why is Adulting scary, also think it is hard. It’s not just about being responsible; it’s also about making sure you don’t mess up.

Here are five things I learned about adulting when I was 20 years old. Hopefully, these tips can help you too

Why adulting is scary is because people find themselves thrown into this huge world that they never knew existed and suddenly they expect you to know what you want to be, to understand your rights and liabilities, and to put it simply, to become an adult overnight!

When I was 20 years old, I had a lot of growing up to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I wasn’t exactly sure where I stood in life. I was living at home with my parents, working two jobs, and going to school full time. I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.

I had very high goals set for who I wanted to be, and sometimes I would wonder, even if I accomplished those goals, so what? This led to my working extremely hard sometimes and at other times, not caring at all.

Many young adults have their own stories about what challenges they faced at the age of 20. One smart young lady said to me once you get just a little older, you will realize that it really is not that scary.

Below are tips you should live by.

1. You will make mistakes. 2. Take it a day at a time. 3. Be honest with yourself and others. 4. Take care of yourself. 5. Have fun with it!

Here Are A Few Tips to Make Adulting Less Scary

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help.

If you need help, ask for it. There are lots of ways to find out how to do something. And there are people who are willing to teach you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adulthood, ask for help. You might be surprised at what you learn from other people who have been there before you.

Learn From Mistakes.

Learn as you go along. You will make mistakes. That’s part of life. Don’t beat yourself up when you do. Instead, learn from them.

If you’re looking for some inspiration to get started on your own adulting journey, here are three ways to learn from your mistakes. First, take responsibility for your actions. When something goes wrong, admit it. Don’t try to blame other people or circumstances. Second, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what went wrong, and why. Third, forgive yourself. You’ve done nothing wrong.

Take Care Of Yourself.

If you’re struggling with adulting, take care of yourself first. Make sure you eat well, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and spend time with friends and family.
When we were kids, our parents told us to take care of ourselves. Now that we’re adults, we’ve got to tell ourselves to take care of ourselves too. We have to be self-sufficient, because if we aren’t, then who will?

You Can Do This!

Yes, adulting is scary, but you can do this.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can do anything you put your mind to.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of taking care of yourself and your family, then you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Bankrate, nearly half (48 percent) of adults said that they feel stressed about their finances. And while many people think that stress comes from having too much to worry about, the truth is that stress can be caused by anything from financial problems to relationship issues.

A Few Final Words

As you can see, there are many reasons why adulting is scary. As a young adult, I would urge you to put on the brakes and slow your transition into adulthood. You have your whole life to be an adult so stop and smell the roses. You should also strive to use all the resources that are available to support you through this journey.

Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD
Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD

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