Emerging Adulthood

Have you left adolescence but don’t feel like a fully functioning adult just yet? Are you currently in college, about to graduate, or are a recent graduate? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this blog post is for you.

During my time in college I have learned a lot. I’ve learned how to market myself to obtain jobs, I’ve mastered the ability to connect with people of diverse backgrounds, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge through my degree program and I’ve learned a ton about myself overall. However, it wasn’t until last weekend that I learned something in my courses, specifically my Psychology of Adjustment course, that connected with me so personally. Lately I have been battling a lot of emotions and feelings underneath the surface in terms of the stage of life that I find myself in. I am 22 years old, about to graduate college and I am gearing towards the next step of life: adulthood. However, I’ve discovered that I’m not officially in the stage of adulthood, but somewhere in between adolescence and adulthood. All of this being said, I have found that these feelings are quite normal and that there is actually a theory behind the stage of life before complete adulthood. That theory is the Theory of Emerging Adulthood by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett. Arnett found that emerging adults exhibit five features: The Age of Identity Exploration, the Age of Instability, the Age of Self-focus, the Age of Feeling In Between, and the Age of Possibilities. Each of these features plays a part in emerging adults’ lives and exhibits similarities that we all face as emerging adults. Down below are my findings regarding the five features of Emerging Adulthood as well as my personal relations to each.

Age of Identity Exploration: In this feature young adults are deciding who they are and what they desire out of school, work, and love. They try out many different possibilities in life and the combination of all of these attempted possibilities begins to shape their overall identity.

My Age of Identity Exploration: There are less than three weeks left until I walk across the stage to receive my degree in front of my friends and family at my graduation. After every class session I feel closer to the end of college and the “real world” seems ever so near. Soon I will have to get a job and start saving up to support myself. That being said, I have finally begun to seriously explore the possibilities for my life. I know that each decision that I make for after graduation will have long-lasting impacts and that I will have to live with those decisions. I have been interviewing for a variety of jobs in locations around the United States and the world, exploring romantic interests, and mapping out what each of these paths would look like if put into play. Aside from planning out my future, I’ve also been analyzing my past. I’ve been looking into how I have changed from the beginning of my college experience to the end of it. I started my journey at a Christian university, then transferred to Coastal Georgia for tennis, almost transferred again for soccer, stayed put for a year by getting involved on campus, and eventually studied abroad in the Czech Republic. I want to discover how I have changed overall through college by answering questions like: What are my passions now? What values do I hold? What do I desire out of life? I’m exploring my identity to discover who I am now and who I want to be in the future.

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How have you changed over the years?

Age of Instability: Young adults also face a lot of instability in romance and living situations. They develop romantic relationships and end them often. They also move around a lot after graduation, in between jobs, and so on. Life is a roller coaster of events in this stage and it is filled with heaps of instability.

My Age of Instability: I have also been experiencing a lot of instability in the last couple of years. I began my freshman year of college in a committed relationship and focused solely on the “apple of my eye”. However, by the end of my freshman year we ended things. After that relationship I occasionally went on dates with girls, but I found it more worthwhile to focus on myself. I wanted to pursue my own passions and desired to get to know myself better for a change. After choosing to focus on myself I have since transferred colleges, worked summer jobs around the country, studied abroad in the Czech Republic, and am currently looking for a full-time job upon graduation. It’s like I can’t stay still in life! I honestly love it though because it keeps things exciting. However, this constant instability has caused problems in developing long-term relationships. I can be so focused on my own aspirations that I tend to neglect to spend time with my friends. To make things worse, I always find myself in new locations. This is great in terms of getting out into the world and exploring different ways of life, but it is damaging in terms of remaining close with the friends that I do make. I’ve found that spending quality time in person always beats a phone call. I would however like to say thank you to the friends who have stuck by my side through all of my journeys!

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I appreciate all of you more than you know.

Age of Self-Focus: In this stage of emerging adulthood young adults find themselves in between their reliance on parental support and long-term commitments like marriage and work. They take this time to fully develop themselves and their lives in terms of what direction they want to take, where they want to work, who they want to be with romantically, and where they want to be in the future.

My Age of Self-Focus: At this very moment I feel like I am starting to establish an independent lifestyle but have not completely attained one as of yet. This can be illustrated by my decrease in reliance on parental financial support. For example, my dad told me earlier this week that I will no longer be on the family health insurance plan and need to support myself in that. Little things like this that I have taken for granted my whole life are going drop off one by one as I learn to look after myself. My parents however have been incredible by providing for my needs while simultaneously pushing me towards self-reliance. I also am not fully developed when it comes to the areas of romance and careers either. I am not married yet nor do I have a long-term career. I am in pursuit of these goals but am also working on developing myself both personally and professionally at the same time.

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Never stop growing.

Age of Feeling In-Between: Most emerging adults feel like they are starting to take responsibility for themselves and become functioning adults but are also feel like adolescents in a way. They know that they are in a transitional stage of life and are working towards full adulthood while letting go of adolescent feelings along the way.

My Age of Feeling In-Between: I currently feel in between adolescence and full adulthood. I feel childlike in some aspects of life and adult like in others. It’s hard to let go of the feelings of adolescence and the lack of responsibility. At the same time, I know that it is necessary to evolve, adapt, and develop to become the man that I am meant to be. On my way to becoming a well-rounded adult I will need to experience many more learning lessons, seek guidance from my elders, and mature exponentially. I know that I am not there yet; I don’t know everything and I am conscious of the flaws that I possess. However, I am optimistic in my ability to grow and my future as a whole.

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Growing up one day at a time…

Age of Possibilities: Emerging adults are full of optimism and excitement for the future. They believe at their core that they can achieve their dreams and live a quality life. They have not tested their dreams in the real world yet but are hopeful in accomplishing them. The world is at their fingertips and the possibilities are endless.

My Age of Possibilities: This is probably the most relevant feature for me. Anytime that someone asks me if I’m nervous about graduating and finding a job I respond in an optimistic manner. I’ll say something like “I’m not worried about finding a job because there are so many options out there!”. And it is true. In this day in age the possibilities for work are endless. It’s not a question of if you will find work but what work you will find. I possess a mindset of excitement because there are so many awesome routes to pursue in terms of work and location. I am so incredibly optimistic for my future and am a major dreamer who believes that anything is possible. The possibilities truly feel endless right now and I am determined to create the best life for myself that I can.

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What path will you pursue?

So, I would like to know: What are your thoughts on Arnett’s Concept of Emerging Adulthood and how do you relate to its components? I look forward to reading your responses! Also, please subscribe via email to be notified when I post something new. I would really appreciate it if you did!

Post 2: Do What You Love Part 2

After getting to know the international athletes on my hall at Lee University I ached to travel. I wanted to get out into the world and experience different ways of life and incredible destinations. The South had become old to me and I felt that it was about time to step outside of it. Fortunately enough, my parents took me on one last vacation with just the three of us the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. We traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, and Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia National Park was absolutely stunning, but our two days in Boston had the biggest impact on me. The city was so incredibly different than anywhere that I had ever been. The thing that stuck out to me most however was the convergence of cultures. People from all over the world were touring Boston that summer. Every couple of steps I heard a different language being spoken. I so badly wanted to interact with each person and hear their story, but my parents had an agenda planned out, so we had to push on. Also, I remember gaping at so many beautiful international girls. That probably drove my mother crazy because I pointed them out quite often. All in all, the trip inspired me to travel even more. I mean, if my laptop screensaver is still a picture of Boston two years later it must have been an amazing experience, right?

Below: My Boston laptop screensaver

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I started my sophomore year of college at my current school: The College of Coastal Georgia. The week before classes started I attended the international orientation; I figured that since the internationals at Lee University were so cool that the international students at Coastal would be too. That turned out to be a wonderful decision. At this orientation I met who would become my two best friends at the college that year: Louis and Karina. Louis was attending Coastal from Haiti while Karina was from Brazil and attending the college as an exchange student. After the orientation we were sent to our dorms to officially move in. I had connected with Louis so quickly that when I found out that one of my roommates to be had transferred I messaged him immediately. He felt the same way about me too because he happily accepted the invitation to become roommates. I was exposed to many cultural differences through my friendships with Louis and Karina. They taught me about their home languages, foods from their countries, how to properly dance, how relationships worked in their cultures, about varied music, and so much more. The more that they taught me about their home cultures the more I wanted to check them out for myself. The three of us were inseparable and emitted an abundance of confidence wherever we went. We certainly stuck out on campus amidst the hordes of Southerners. Who would have thought that an American, a Brazilian, and a Haitian would become such close friends? These amazing friends helped me to discover so much about myself and I am incredibly thankful to have met them. They also inspired me even more to get out into the world and explore. After becoming so close with them my sophomore year of college I found that I not only desired to travel, but I also desired to become an international student myself.

Below: Karina, Louis and I has we head off to be tourists for the day.

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Upon discovering that I wanted the experience of studying as an international student, I figured that I should start by traveling domestically. I found that I shouldn’t just travel to another place in my country, but that I should also work and live there for a little while on my own as well. I felt like it was necessary to learn how to live on my own for a few months to see if I could really handle change. So, I got a job as a camp counselor at Mountain Camp the summer between my sophomore and junior year. Mountain Camp is a traditional co-ed camp for kids nestled in the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California. The camp is a truly unique place where kids have the freedom grow, make new friends, and pursue new interests in a safe and beautiful setting. I had a wonderful experience working at the camp, but it was also very trying for me for a few reasons: I was living on the other side of the country without my family and friends, I had to quickly learn how to look after myself in a foreign environment, and the job itself was surprisingly straining. By the end of the summer though I was extremely satisfied with the experience. Through the camp counselor experience I learned a lot about myself, I made a positive impact on the kids and was positively impacted by them, saved up some decent money, and made friends with counselors from all over the world. I also got a lot of great advice from fellow counselors about how to travel properly, living in another culture, and preparing for the study abroad process. My experience at Mountain Camp gave me a fantastic foundation to pull from in preparation for future travel.

Below: Me with my co counselor and best friend Stephen at Mountain Camp

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This last year of college, my junior year, has been about setting myself up for a student exchange experience. I’ve taken the advice from all the international friends that I have made and the International Education Department at the College of Coastal Georgia and capitalized on it. I worked a good bit this last year and saved up proper funds to help cover the student exchange experience and the extra fees associated with it. Through the process of setting myself up to go abroad I’ve had to find out the best location for me to study in, the right organization to work with, how to get a passport, how to apply for a student visa, and how to find the best plane tickets to purchase. After having finished my junior year strong I am very close to manifesting my dreams into a reality. I’ve been accepted into a student exchange program for a semester in the Czech Republic, I have jobs in New York City and California set up for this summer to aid with preparations, and I have amazing people in my life to draw help from when I need. I’ve discovered that I love to travel and that I long to become an international student. It is happening. I’m Doing What I Love and I’m damn proud of it.

Embrace the freedom of Doing What You Love to do! Each of us have passions that we desire to pursue and it’s our responsibility to go after them wholeheartedly. Once you put your heart into doing what you love anything is possible, and by choosing to ACT NOW on your passions you are giving yourself the best chance to attain your exactly what you desire. So, get out of your comfort zone. Comfort is so deceiving because it tricks us into thinking that we are satisfied where we are at in life. It attempts to assure us that doing what we like is satisfying enough, but mere satisfaction with our lives gets old. Comfort really just holds us back from attaining true joy. It instills into us the fear that if we try to go for more we will ultimately regret it. That is completely false. If we remain only comfortable and satisfied, we will be selling ourselves short. It is worth the sacrifice to leave comfort behind and go for what you love. The dream of doing what you love can become a reality, you just need to take a leap of faith and put the work in!

 

 

 

Post 2: Do What You Love Series Part One

My first year of college I attended Lee University; it is a private Christian University consisting of about 5,000 students nestled in the mountains in Tennessee. Lee University offers outstanding academics and has one of the most beautiful campuses that I have ever been on. The atmosphere there is absolutely electric, and the people are extremely nice. On a surface level the university seems flawless. However, life at Lee is not as perfect as one is lead to believe, and as with every university it has its flaws. Most of my “Life at Lee” consisted of dating the same girl, taking religion classes, going to chapel, participating in intramural sports, and ultimately staying inside an innocent little bubble. The culture there constituted that we were to only think in a Christian worldview. The endless required chapel sessions, religion classes, and recommended Monday night small group gatherings did not give one the opportunity to break through the bubble that encompassed the campus. Now things were nice and peachy if you were a dedicated Christian, but what about the people that attended the school who were not religious? They were, and probably still are, treated as outcasts. This happened to be the case for a lot of the international student athletes that I met. The fact that they were not “believers” caused others to avoid them in many regards, but it also caused them to form tight knit groups. They were only at Lee because they had been offered athletic scholarships to compete for the university. Apparently though, the coaches had not taken the time to explain how different the school was compared to most other American colleges when recruiting their athletes. The student athletes, especially the ones from abroad, envisioned their college experience to be full of parties and new experiences. However, when they arrived on campus they were met by a whole new reality: the college that they were recruited to is hardcore Christian. The combination of studying in a foreign place and being surrounded by religion can cause some hard-hitting culture shock. This being said, most of the international student athletes on campus tended to stick together and be rowdy. They would openly state how they thought Christianity was stupid and this offended a lot of people at the university. I don’t blame them though because if I was in there shoes I would have acted out as well. The international athletes were surprisingly cool guys though if you got passed the whole “they’re not religious” thing. They had a lot to offer, one just had to be willing to hear them out.

Below: A snowy day at Lee University with the flame still burning strong.

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I was a strong Christian for most of my time spent at Lee University, and with my Christian views at the helm I put up relational barriers towards the international athletes that I met. They came across as a threat to my faith because they openly disagreed with the foundations that I was raised on. It scared me to hear their points of view for some reason. Maybe I was afraid that I would actually agree with their viewpoints, or maybe I was just afraid of being judged by other Christian students at the University for associating with them. What I do know is that I am grateful for getting to know some of them in the end.

At the conclusion of my freshman year at Lee University I connected with the international students on my hall. They were all student athletes who came from many different backgrounds. Their stories were the complete opposite of mine: they hailed from all over the world, they were all collegiate athletes, and none of them were remotely religious. Each difference that they exemplified was something that I wanted to explore. I desired to travel outside of the South and see the great big world, I was currently working my ass off to become a collegiate tennis player, and I was starting to fall off the whole religion train that I had been on my entire life. I got to know them my last few weeks at Lee University because I finally decided to let my barriers down. It was one of the best decisions that I could have made.

Below: Me with Eirik (A former tennis player at Lee from Norway on my hall) after he accidentally hit me in the nose with the cue ball.

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My last few weeks at Lee University were extremely eye-opening as I began to spend quality time with the international athletes on my hall. Hanging out with the international athletes from my hall allowed me to see the University from the other side and I got a glimpse of the underlying counterculture that existed at the school. This culture consisted of parties, speaking one’s mind, having fun, and ultimately being free to explore new possibilities. So, I began to try new things; I started to view the school from a “worldly view” rather than a Christian one, listened to new outlooks on life, met new people, talked to new girls, and even attended a party or two. It was exhilarating to explore this new way of life towards the end of my freshman year. The international athletes on my hall gave me new perspectives on how to view the world, taught me about their cultures, introduced me to their native languages, exposed me to incredible music, and most importantly sparked in me the desire to travel. I had been introduced to many different cultures and I was thirsty to know more about everything else that awaited me in the great big world. I desired to travel and see amazing places with my own two eyes. It turned out that traveling would become a present-day example of me Doing What I Love.

Be on the lookout for part two coming soon!

Sincerely,

Captain Kosz

Post 1: Do What You Love Series

Have you ever heard the phrase “Do what you love”? When I was younger these words caused me to spring into action. I remember pondering on this phrase for a bit before finally dropping the sport that drained me and picking up the sport that gave my adolescent self life. I kicked soccer out of my life so that I could cause a racquet in tennis. It was a tough decision for me to make at the time because I was so good at soccer. At the age of 14 I was the starting goalkeeper for my club’s top team, I had just previously gone through a year of training with the Georgia Olympic Development Program, and I was in my best form. However, my heart was not in it. The combination of burnout, continual pressure from coaches, and discovering my love for tennis had caused me to fall out of love with the sport of soccer. So, when tryout time came for spring sports at my high school, I stunned everyone around me by choosing to tryout for the tennis team instead of soccer. All my coaches, teammates, friends, and family were taken aback by this decision. The coaches reminded me of my talent in soccer while my father reminded me of all the money and time that he had poured into my training, but I would not budge on my decision. With soccer I felt too much pressure but with tennis I felt complete freedom. I was free to suck at tennis because I quite frankly had no reputation to uphold. By playing the sport of tennis I did not have to hold the team on my back by protecting the goal and I certainly did not have past successes placing pressure on me.

Below: Picture of me my junior year on the pitch at the College of Coastal Georgia.

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The sport of tennis gave me the opportunity to start anew. I fell in love with tennis and the way I felt every time I stepped foot on the court. I loved how I was responsible for my shit and my shit only. I loved the intensity that arose in me with each and every point that I played. Whether I became successful or not was up to me, and it felt good to start from the bottom. By starting at the bottom, I was also able to create my own style of play. I learned to play tennis with two forehands, which was very unusual. Sure, I got criticized by seasoned veterans in the sport for not having a backhand, but I also turned a hell of a lot of heads. People were intrigued by my style of play because it was so different from the norm. The attention that I got by doing my OWN thing was amazing. Also, it just felt amazing to do what I loved in a way that was unique to me. Starting anew by doing what you love gives you this wonderful opportunity to be creative. You have this unique freedom to express yourself however you desire to and that is what makes doing what you love so very worth it. Now I did not turn out to be a professional athlete by any means because, well, that would be too good to be true. I did however get some college offers which eventually lead me to transfer to the college that I attend today.

Below: Picture of me the summer after my freshman year of college when I got offered a spot on the College of Coastal Georgia’s Men’s Tennis Team.

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I was able to get a taste of how life should be by choosing to do what I loved rather than sticking with what I was good at because it was familiar. I discovered a sense of freedom in doing what I loved and found myself along the way. I found that life should be about pursuing the things that you love, even if you are not sure that they will turn out the way you expect them to. Choosing to do what you love at least gives you the opportunity to pursue the future that you dream about. Doing what works at a given moment will get you by but doing what you love will energize you to chase your dreams. Don’t just do what works for you, do whatever it is that you love to do.

I am happy to say that I have picked up the sport of soccer again and that I very much enjoy it now. I play on my college’s club team and have some awesome teammates that I consider family. In fact, some of those very teammates helped to re-energize my passion for the sport. Tennis is also still a part of my life, but it is not my sole focus anymore. I enjoy tennis more as a spectator now and occasionally pick up the racquet when I am feeling keen. Moving onward I will continue to do what I love in the sports realm as well as in the rest of my life.

Look out for the next post of this series coming soon.

Sincerely,

Captain Kosz