Grow up with grown-ups

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

From a young age, we are taught to respect our elders. Sayings like “this is grown-up talk” and “you’ll understand when you get older” instilled a concept of a bar of entry to adulthood. There is an invisible yet very salient relational distance between those who are adults and those who are not.

For college students, who have always grown-up with this reverence and even fear of adults, it is time to knock those walls down.

The gap between us and the adult world is quickly closing. The reality is that we are adults now, too. Once we hit that 18-year mark, we earn the legal standing of “adult.” And college seniors are approaching the next life landmark at which they lose the classification of “student” and trade it in for a job title.

Embracing adulthood means beginning to associate with other adults. You are one of them; start acting like it.

We can feel intimidated by the authority figures in our life — mentors, professors, bosses, etc. While retaining a respectful reverence for these people, it is important to remember that you don’t need to be afraid of adults anymore; you are one.

Fear of adults can manifest in nervousness and timidness that keeps you from fully communicating. At one point, everyone has operated within an ultra-formal persona in front of an adult they were afraid of: few in words, stiff in movements.

Continuing to resort to this guise will hold you back in the career field. In interviews, you may come off as too closed off or unconfident if you feel you can’t share anything of substance about yourself. In the workplace, you may not negotiate salary or contribute ideas in fear of speaking out.

While we should still act within professional bounds, we should learn how to make substantial connections with other adults.

This can start in college by making more meaningful relationships

with professors. Professors specialize in interacting with college students. Talk to them before or after class and go to their office hours. Another step could be taking advantage of the Career Center’s interview training.

Getting over the intimidation of adults is necessary for future success. Have confidence in your right to be treated and be heard on parity with everyone else in your workplace.