Adults Have More Anxiety, But Not for the Reasons You Suspect

Growing up is interesting. Not only do we have little control over how we grow up and where we grow up, we also cannot control who we grow up around. Factor in, who chooses the school you will go to, the people you will meet and be taught by and life continues to feel out of your hands.

As I grew up, I learned there were a lot of things I wished I could have said something about, which may have given me more agency over my life. For example, I wish I would have negotiated some of the places and people I spent most of my free time with.

Asha Tarry
Asha Tarry, Life Coach

In my years spent working with youth I’ve come to understand many times over that children know what they know, even when they lack the verbiage to express it. They read the signs of those who raise them. They hear the messages in the atmosphere. They watch how adults respond to talking up or talking back, as it was often called when I was a youth. And they learn what they can, can’t, will and will not do in order to avoid discomfort, pain or causing adults to react to them. That’s been my personal experience, but also what I’ve observed in other introverted children. Then, people wonder why children grow up feeling anxious.

Recently, I was asked on a podcast why so many millennials have anxiety. As I continue unpacking that question, what I’ve concluded thus far from my years of counseling and coaching young adults (and children, couples and families too) boils down to this:

      1. Millennials do not have all the answers. Nor should they. But, somewhere inside of them, there’s a fixed belief that they should know everything, and sometimes the people in their lives treat them as if they should, too.

      2. Millennials learn experientially how to behave, talk, connect and build things like most other adults, but how often do they wish they had to do this versus wishing they had more intimate connections with people who care about how they’re getting along? My guess would be a lot. They wish they had a lot more mentoring and advising than they do.

      3. Millennials descend from a generation of people who were more depressed (this is empirical information, not yet confirmed) and who did not talk about their feelings, their problems, or their stress as openly as this generation does. The gap between the old and the new lifestyles are fairly wide, thereby leaving Gen Y with little navigational support.

As anxiety grows more widespread and increasingly faster than any other mental illness at this time, what we can do about it is to: A.) Recognize how we feel inside and honor that space truthfully as your own reality. B.) Talk about it openly with other people so you can experience less isolation and possibly garner some resources (my clients often refer their friends to my office because they talk about professional help openly). And C.) Seek support from communities of like-minded people through group therapy, yoga and meditation groups, Facebook affinity groups and even read self-help books and reading communities so you are awakened to the age old wisdom of philosophers and healers who have felt the way that you do.

Times may feel like new, but most things in the world are recycled conditions of the past. When we learn to resolve our collective pain, we will be able to live with more discernment and wisdom. Until then, let’s continue healing ourselves.

*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*

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