Adulthood is lonely. Amidst all the very real responsibilities of our newfound autonomy is this crushing sense of loneliness. We graduate, expecting the next chapter of our lives to be ripe with personal growth, fun, and unbridled excitement. But instead, we’re unexpectedly thrust into a far less sparkly reality, one where unemployment, unforeseen money trouble, and dormant friendships reign. So how come no one is talking about the harsh realities of adulthood and loneliness?

Adulthood is, in many ways, a glorified experience. Throughout our childhood, we look towards our mid-twenties and early thirties as exceptionally happy and free. Those are the years where our young counterparts expect our lives to finally be flourishing. School is out, for good. Our careers and love lives would be in full bloom, our finances stable and our family lives deeper and more fulfilling. But more often than naught, this is not the case. 

When reality sets in

It can be a scary time and sometimes disillusioning time in our lives, one where we spend an obscene amount of time comparing ourselves to others and wondering whether we’re doing the right things for our careers. Suddenly, we’re forced to abandon the innocent fantasies from our childhood. The ones where adulthood was the gleaming beginnings of a scintillating life to be lived. Instead, we must confront the harsh realities of adulthood. The gnawing emptiness, the utter lack of a safety net… the loneliness.

Why is adulting so hard?

Stripped of our childhood comforts and support, many of us grapple with the transition to total independence. Previously, our only responsibilities were to maintain a somewhat decent academic record, respect and confide in our parents, and just stay out of trouble. But now, life tasks us with building a stable home for ourselves and any potential partners. Between paying bills, commutes, work demands, and occasional dating, we also need to carve out the necessary me time. But it often feels like there aren’t hours enough in a day.

Why do we feel so lonely?

Throughout our school years (whether we’re talking primary school or university) we spent some uncomfortably long periods with our same-aged peers. Thus we were forcibly part of a bigger community and had a long-standing (yet flimsy) sense of belonging, even if we didn’t have that much in common with our schoolmates. But once that bubble of comfort bursts, our collective identity dissipating, we’re all on our own. We have to forge our paths and establish new bonds outside the impenetrable walls of traditional institutions. And so we come face to face with the harsh realities of adulthood and loneliness.

How do we cope?

Be honest with yourself. Adulthood isn’t really what it’s been crocked up to be. It’s difficult. It’s lonely. And we’re bound to struggle with our newfound grown-up duties. But that’s okay. Being a proper adult doesn’t mean mastering the work-life balance right away, nor does it prove your utility to repress any feelings of loneliness and despair. Behind the glittery social media feeds and empty platitudes, we’re all struggling. So, allow yourself the much-needed time to structure your ideal day-to-day life. No one feels like a grown-up at our age anyway.

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An avid reader and freelance writer with a passion for intercultural communication and cultural analysis. A twenty-something social media newbie exploring the good, the bad and the ugly of the many platforms that make up our current worldview.