Transitioning from childhood to adulthood can be an exciting time for some young adults that feels full of possibilities. They can make their own schedule and set their own rules. But many young adults may find themselves feeling conflicted about the autonomy they are given in young adulthood. As a teen, they may have pushed boundaries and fought against house rules. But when it comes time to launch into adulthood, it is common for young adults to freeze and want to go back to what is comfortable. During adolescence, their parents played a bigger role in making decisions for them and solving problems they may have faced as consequences of making their own rules. When young adults realize that they may be less prepared to make these decisions than they thought, their fear of independence can hold them back from moving forward in their lives.

Fear of Independence and Responsibilities

Growing up, many parents take care of household responsibilities without teaching children how to contribute. Their generation has been sheltered by spending more time indoors, less time on their own, and more time turning to Google for answers to their questions instead of relying on their experiences. As rates of anxiety have skyrocketed, so have rates of risk aversion. Young adults have widened the net of things outside of their comfort zone to include many traditional adult roles and responsibilities.

The following tasks may be too overwhelming or seem out-of-reach for your young adult:

  • Attending post-secondary education
  • Finding a job
  • Forming intimate relationships with others outside the family
  • Working with others
  • Moving out of their parent’s house
  • Cooking and cleaning 
  • Paying bills

When young adults want to stay at home, don’t search for a job or contribute financially, and begin to withdraw from the world, this builds the foundation of failure to launch. The launch that we’re referring to is an inner motivation. It requires the internalization of the belief in one’s ability to succeed. The young adult needs to tap into a sense of both perseverance and resilience in order to make independent decisions while learning to simultaneously and skillfully balance the use of the resources of others and the world. In order for success to be possible young adults may need guidance to gain clarity and focus in this area.

Fear of Decision-Making

Children raised in family environments that are reward-oriented and permissive or where all their decisions are made for them often encounter anxiety and lack of motivation as adults. They may lack the confidence they need to leave the nest and become independent. If they’re used to having problems handled for them, they may lack confidence in their own judgment and decision-making abilities, and they may have a hard time managing stressful situations that are a normal part of life.

Parents often believe that if they can control their child’s behavior and avert a negative outcome, their child will stop making unhealthy choices. By attempting to rescue their child from bad choices, they are removing the consequences. When a dependent child doesn’t suffer the consequences of their bad choices, there is no motivation or need to change. A better approach might be to let the child learn the consequences of their bad choices or bad behavior.

This inability to make decisions can also have negative consequences when the child leaves home for the first time for college or their career. For example, in college, this could manifest in poor time management skills. If they are used to their parents telling them when they should do their homework or when they need to choose work over fun, they may have difficulty setting a schedule for themselves. Because they are used to having an outside motivational source, they have not had to develop internal motivation to reach their goals. 

Fear of Being Alone

Ultimately, many young adult’s fears about independence come down to the fear of not being able to depend on others and feeling alone. A fear of being alone can come from experiencing abandonment so they associate being alone with being abandoned. Fear of being alone could also stem from low self-esteem. A young adult who doesn’t believe in themself may believe that they are not capable to make their lives better on their own.

These fears about feeling alone in adulthood may manifest through:

  • Feelings of helplessness and inadequacy
  • Difficulty expressing needs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Blaming others for personal problems
  • People-pleasing
  • Having no personal interests or goals outside of relationships

Leaving home for the first time can be exciting for some young adults, and terrifying for others. It is a huge adjustment to go from the safety and comfort of home and family to being completely on their own. If they are unable to find some enjoyment in being on their own, it may result in unhealthy friendships or romantic relationships. Young adults afraid of being alone may choose to be with just about anyone to avoid having to be by themselves. 

Exploring Interdependence

The reality is that most independent adults are not fully self-sufficient. While young adults are taught to value taking care of themselves and not needing others for emotional support, some people internalize this as that they are not supposed to ask for help and end up feeling more isolated from others. In group therapy, many young adults realize that one of the reasons they have struggled to launch into independence is that they have not considered what interdependence might look like. Interdependence, simply put, means the people in the relationship maintain their sense of self while working together to meet each other’s needs as well as their own. The aim is to connect emotionally with others in a meaningful way while setting boundaries.

Some therapeutic goals that young adults work on in wilderness therapy might include:

  • Practicing self-sufficiency and assertiveness skills
  • Learning to cope with fears of being alone
  • Taking personal responsibility for behaviors
  • Practicing decision-making 
  • Becoming comfortable spending time on their own
  • Learning to express disagreement in productive ways
  • Working with others as a team 
  • Actively listening to others

People thrive when they remain connected to each other. Within families. Across generations. Within communities. Interdependence is about healthy mutual reliance. But young adults need a great deal of personal confidence to be able to allow themselves to be connected to others. For this reason, the confidence earned through increasing independence is a vital first step towards our goal of interdependence. We want our teens to set off on their own journeys while knowing their goal is to remain connected to family in the long run.

A Transitional Program For Your Young Adult

For young adults who are ready to gain more independence but may lack the skills they need to go out on their own, a transitional program can provide the support they need to build those skills. At BlueFire Pulsar, we understand that for young adults struggling to launch into adulthood, there are a myriad of factors that have created this situation. Many young adults who have fallen behind their peers in terms of life skills are suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety that make it difficult to find motivation. These mental health challenges also tend to cause feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Once these issues are being managed in a healthy, productive way, clients can work toward other short and long-term goals and successfully launch into adulthood.

Through exciting adventure-based activities like mountaineering, bouldering, and canoeing, clients step outside of their comfort zone and build translatable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and accountability. As clients take part in wilderness programming, we are able to assess their needs and begin to form a plan for transitioning away from past negative behaviors. Our transition planning helps identify key points as your child heads home and uses the wilderness to gain the confidence needed to no longer make the same mistakes. We utilize wilderness therapy in coordination with a strong therapeutic component and family involvement to help young adults launch themselves into a brighter, more successful future.

blueFire PulsaR Can Help

blueFire PulsaR is a co-educational wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28. This program addresses emotional, social, and behavioral problems in young adults who are considering dropping out or experiencing “failure to launch” syndrome. Adventure therapy, wilderness ventures, equine therapy, academic opportunities and “family spark” are used to help students open up and look at their life. This program is dedicated to helping students regain a better sense of the world around them and adopt healthier self-management skills.

We help young adults step out of their comfort zone, improve their self-esteem, and help our clients build their confidence through self-success. Our program helps create positive changes and improvements through engagement and adventure. We have a supportive environment that encourages clients to push themselves physically and emotionally to create lasting changes. For more information about how we help young adults launch into independence, contact us at 1 (844) 413-1999. We can help your family today!

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