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I'm not ready to finish school and become an adult

Hi Sam,

Today is my last day of year 11 before GCSEs start and also the last day of compulsory education and I don't feel ready at all emotionally. I know a lot of people at this age are already getting jobs and know what they want to do in life but I don't know what I want to do in the future and don't have any long-term plans. I'm scared of becoming an adult and actually having to make decisions and grow up. Apart from worries about the future I also feel like I've wasted my life so far because I have no hobbies, no achievements and no friends. I haven't done any of the typical teenage stuff and am generally having a miserable time and have no optimism for the future. I wish I could start my life again and never have to grow up.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It's common for people to feel scared or anxious about leaving school and becoming an adult. Finishing education or starting higher education, is one of the biggest changes most people will have to face in their life, so it's natural to feel worried about it. This probably won't be the last time you'll feel this way either - we have to face change regularly, at different points throughout our lives. Don't worry though - it's possible to learn to cope with change and perhaps even embrace it as a way of making us stronger.

When something familiar's about to change, it can be stressful. We can get a lot of comfort from routines and the more familiar we are with something, the more confident we might feel. Feeling comfortable with your daily routine means that you feel more able to cope with other worries and stresses that come along.

Coping with a big change in your life's something you'll have to do from time to time, but the more it happens the more you can learn how to reduce the impact it has on you. One of the biggest parts about becoming an adult is learning to cope with uncertainty and change and it's quite scary at first. It can help to look at this from a different angle though - because while becoming an adult can mean more responsibility, it also gives you more choice. Up to now you've had to follow a certain path - going from year to year in school, doing exams and generally having those choices made for you. What you do next however is up to you.

Being in full control of what you do next can be overwhelming and scary and a lot of those feelings can come from pressure to be "successful", but this could mean anything. How you think of success is also your choice. Often TV and social media will tell you that being successful means being rich and famous, but that doesn't have to be the case. Most people want to be happy - so you need to think about what makes you happy and how can you make sure that this happens.

It's common for people in their late teens and twenties to not know what they want to do as a career. You'll probably not find a lifelong career in your first few jobs - and that's okay. Not having long term plans can be fine if you treat each job as a different way to gain experience. Learning what you don't like is just as important as learning what you do like. If you think about it this way then it can take the pressure off finding the "right" job because everything you do has the opportunity for learning more about who you are and gaining skills and experiences to take with you.

I know it's not easy - and it's unlikely to be the last time you feel this way - but it does get easier to cope with the more it happens. It's always good to talk about anxiety and stress so finding the right people to do that with is important. Our counsellors are always here for you if you want to talk.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,


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