Gen Zer Wonders When They'll Feel Like A 'Real Adult' — 'I Don't Feel In Control Of My Life'

How we measure adulthood depends on so many factors.

young woman smiling Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

From tween-hood to edging along the cusp of their late 20s, Gen Zers are in a tender era of figuring out their identities amidst a world in upheaval.

Members of Gen Z were born between 1997 and 2012, placing them between the ages of 12 and 27. They’re starting high school, graduating college, and going into the workforce, all while questioning their role in society.

A Gen Z’er wondered when they’ll feel like a ‘real adult,’ revealing that they don’t feel in control of their own life.

They wrote to the subreddit r/GenZ, seeking guidance on what makes other people feel like they’re grown.


"Do any of y’all feel like real adults?" they asked. "I’m young 20s, and everybody still continues to ask about my life plans. I know I do NOT need to rush to figure my life out all at once, but at what age will I start to feel like I am mature and a real adult?"

“I guess I need to move out of my parents’ house after college to start,” they added before asking, “Can you be your own adult and still live with your parents?”

The question touches on the intertwined issues of cultural pressures and social expectations. Typically, the U.S. is structured in a way where people move out once they turn 18, launching their lives as supposedly independent members of society. 

@ben.askins More young adults than ever are still living with their parents. Something has got to change. #millennial #genz #costofliving ♬ original sound - Ben Askins

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Yet in other countries around the world, it’s entirely common and expected for young adults to live in their family homes until they’re more established, both financially and in an emotionally mature sense.

The Gen Zer seemed to internalize pressure from society to know exactly what their future holds, which is an almost impossible question — one that tends to set young people up to feel anxious and disappointed.


"I do not feel very in control of my life," the Gen Zer explained, echoing how many young people feel. “When will I become an adult in this society rather than still feel and be treated like a kid?”

They received responses across a wide age range, from people in their mid-20s to those in their 60s, and the message was fairly consistent: Adulthood is mercurial, and most people are just faking it until they make it.

“I don’t necessarily think that being an adult is a feeling because it’s totally OK to feel attached to childhood [and] youth,” one person wrote. “I think adulthood is just a constant state of figuring it out and trying to deal with life changes.”

“You are definitely far from alone,” another user commented, then offered words of encouragement on how to navigate the future.


don't feel bad if you don't feel like an adult

♬ original sound - Contra Tenore

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“You are also definitely quite capable of coping with everything that comes your way,” they said. “As time goes on, you'll keep learning more and more, and you'll keep getting more and more confident.”

“I'm in my 60s, and that feeling has never gone away,” they revealed. “Seriously, you are a much better person than you might sometimes think. Never forget that.”

A third Redditor noted that everyone’s journey looks different, and no one route is better than any other.

“Just because you’re following a so-called ‘non-traditional path’  in life compared to older generations doesn’t mean you’re not an adult,” they explained. “There’s plenty of time in life to learn how to pay rent and utilities, work however many jobs, and be that so-called ‘real adult.’ You’ll figure stuff out when you get there, however long it takes.”


Their comment recognized just how drastically the world has changed in the decades since Boomers were young.

Millennials and Gen Zers have faced increasingly oppressive structural roadblocks to reaching the same heights of independence and economic success as older generations, such as crushing student loan debt, increased inflation, and wage stagnation — all while being told the economy is actually thriving.

@theageaustralia The cost of living is hitting Gen Z the hardest. Finder’s new cost of living report shows the generation feeling the greatest financial burden is Generation Z. Journalist Abbir Dib explains why. Read the story by clicking the link in our bio.#housingcrisis #australia #rent #rentalmarket #melbourne #sydney #genz #generationz #millennial #costofliving ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim

Gen Z is in a unique position, considering big-picture issues like climate change and economic instability, as they figure out their individual places in the world.


The Gen Zer updated their post to thank everyone for the advice, which “Really helped me put things in perspective and not continue to stress for now.” They shared their plan to revisit the responses throughout their life, “To gather some calm and to remember to just keep on keeping on."

They’re already easing into their adulthood by giving themselves grace and standing strong in the knowledge that they don’t have to figure everything out at once. 

RELATED: Gen Z Worker Says His Goal Is To ‘Descend The Corporate Ladder’ To Avoid Spending His Salary On Therapy Due To Job Stress

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.