How young adults can deal with the growing pressures of this decade

We're expected to settle down, build our careers and pay the bills. But we don't have to feel overwhelmed.

Aliyah Khan

Published: 30 January 2020, 2:05 AM

I’ve never been bothered about the year ending, or celebrating the new year. But that changed with the start of 2020. There was a mass number of tweets on my Twitter timeline about everyone’s tall expectations of themselves for the new decade.

Inevitably, I felt pressured by the prospect that many of us will be accomplishing our biggest life goals over the next 10 years.

Leading up to 2020, many Gen Zers shared their expectations for the new decade on social media. PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER/@ALEXGOUGH_, @ITS_DUH_NIE_LUH


After reading more of these anxiety-inducing tweets, it was difficult to resist the existential dread and immense pressure proliferating through my body.

Burdened by my expectations of the new decade

As a millennium baby (born in 2000), the new decade signifies the beginning of my 20s. This meant diving headfirst into adulthood, and being entirely responsible for myself.

At the start of the previous decade, 10-year-old me would have been thrilled to embark on this endeavour; to finally taste the sweet freedom of adulthood. I even had a perfect vision of what my 20s would entail.

First, I’d be in a loving relationship with a long-term boyfriend, who I’ll end up marrying. We’d live in a big house, have a car and have three kids together. I’ll have my dream job (back then I had many), travel the world and have lots of money in my bank account.

Young people find themselves facing the pressure of marriage this decade, myself included. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/LIYANA GHAZALI


This vision seemed promising back when I was a child, especially since ”What do you want to be when you grow up?” was still a fun question that didn’t send me spiralling into an existential crisis.

But now, as I’m finally entering adulthood, the thought of accomplishing all of these conventional ‘life goals’ within the decade alone seems like an extremely tall order. Don’t be mistaken; I still want to get married, have kids, buy a house and have a dazzling career.

But why put an expiry date on it? Why should I burden myself into thinking I only have this decade to get my whole life sorted? Instead of allowing these worrisome expectations to swallow me whole, I’ve decided on ways to feel less stressed about the future.

Learning how to do 'adult' things better

What I’d like to accomplish in the next 10 years can be categorised under ‘adulting’. And that was the root cause of my apprehension about the future. I simply didn’t know how to get started.

One of the biggest dilemmas of a young adult is deciding on a career. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/TARINI TILVE


There wasn’t a subject in school that taught us about financial planning or how to register for a BTO flat. And there certainly isn’t anyone that can a hundred per cent affirm that I’m making the right career choices for myself.

What I can do now is my own research with the hundreds of resources I can find online – from credible how-to guides curated by experts, to helpful advice on blogs from experienced adults.

With a thorough plan that focuses greatly on how to achieve my goals, the possibility of achieving them seems more feasible and less daunting.

Settling down and moving into your own home is the epitome of ‘adulting’ for many. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ALIYAH KHAN


Redefining what success means to me

I refuse to believe that success is solely dependent on the external wins in life. Often, the seemingly small, every day victories are just as important. Things like improved self-awareness, feeling in touch with spirituality, and learning self-love are hidden, yet monumental successes that shape our lives greatly.

As cliche as it sounds, happiness to me is the greatest success. While I have hopes to accomplish many things by this decade, my mental and emotional well-being triumphs everything else.

Believing that your self-worth isn’t dependent on society’s conventional idea of success may free you from feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Though it’s easier said than done, I’ll do my utmost best to not let the pressures young adults face in the new decade get to me.

As attested by many adults: life doesn’t always transpire the way you want it to — but you’ll find your way eventually, and be grateful for the journey.

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