As younger people, we tend not to think much about what comes next, we just do what we have to. But as we mature, we become more aware of how difficult it can be to make some life transitions because the consequences begin to stand out more.
Parents know the jump from elementary to high school can be difficult for some young students, and most people know of at least one teen who’s struggled to make the leap from living at home and having family support to living in residence and having to care for themselves in those first years of university. Some suspect that smartphones and too much time on the Internet are partly to blame for the significant increases in youth who are unprepared for adulthood but sometimes, change is often just difficult.
Many young adults face the trap of having to enter the adult world of work and financial responsibility for the first time, without the benefit of life experiences that prove they have what it takes to make it. We see many young adults, early in their university or work careers reporting panic attacks, depression and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts when they fear they might be hopeless. Some young people, believing that their lives will only be “successful” when they have a six-figure salary in their dream career, struggle greatly when they either don’t make it in that field or enter it only to realize it isn’t as wonderful as anticipated.
Common jokes about mid-life crises involve affairs, marital breakups and sportscars, but the fact that many men (and women!) struggle in their middle years is well-documented. Many women tell us about how difficult it is to rediscover themselves in their middle years, when most of their identity as a grown-up was oriented around caring for people who no longer need them in those same ways. They talk about the struggles of coping with decisions about re-entering the workforce after years — sometimes decades — of being a stay-home parent.
Many of our male clients talk about the mid-life challenges of feeling locked into careers they no longer enjoy because they believe their roles are to provide financially and to keep the family living the lifestyle it has become accustomed to.
Men and women both tell us of the difficulties they have navigating career changes, and adapting to new roles that may require more travel or time away from family. And many couples report worsening of communication problems in relationships when children become more independent and couples find themselves having little else to talk about or connect over.
Psychologists Can Help with Life Transitions
We see many men, women and teens who are struggling to find their way through life transitions. We help our clients begin to view their situation from a less emotional and more rationale perspective, so they can develop realistic and accurate appraisals of their true strengths and capabilities. We can’t change a person’s life circumstances, but we regularly help our clients to believe more in themselves and develop better strategies for coping with life transitions. Let us know if you’re struggling.