Writing for & Working With Young Adults: The Overlap

In recent weeks, I’ve written on how I’m pursuing of Student Affairs as my fulltime career (by attending graduate school first) over writing. Though focusing most of my time and energy on a career besides writing seems like it would conflict with my creative work, there are actually a few overlaps between my two professional passions. Today, I’m going to go into detail on one of them: young adults.

I’m currently a young adult. I’ve worked with young adults. I’m friends with young adults. All of my experiences growing up and interacting with others leads me to believe that the young adult stage is one of the most critical periods in our lives. Whether you choose to go to college or not doesn’t matter. Our transitional years between childhood and adult life are full of change—some great, some scary, some unexpected. Our current generation of young adults, too, carries a unique set of emotional problems. Our access to all the bad in the world through news and our constant connection to our peers leads to a lot of depression and anxiety. Also, as young adults trying to make something of ourselves and pursue our dreams, we tend to bear a lot of pressure from the expectations of friends, parents, the world, and ourselves. The young adult years are also when we find out who we really are, and who we will be. Many of the decisions we make at this point and time will shape our future—a fact that only adds to the list of pressures we face, though as I grow older I’m beginning to realize that we put too much emphasis on some of the choices we make in college and the early stages of our careers. Not all of these dilemmas and difficulties are exclusive to the young adult experience, per say, but perhaps they are more pronounced and associated with this period of life simply because most young adults tend to go through very similar struggles all at the same time as one another.

Admittedly, I’ve really only observed these things from my own experiences. I could be way off base. I’m only a Student Affairs professional in training, after all, and I have yet to learn about all the developmental stages of college students (and young adults in general). Regardless, I have a passion for meeting students in their trials, especially in seasons of change. Transitioning is rough, especially for both incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors. As a professional, I want to be in a place where I can actively mentor students and prepare them for their future, whatever that might look like. I’ve always loved working with freshmen and helping them acclimate to the university. Now, I’m interested in seeing what ways I can help seniors as they prepare to exit. My own story this past year has opened my eyes to the reality of failed goals and dreams. That piece of me sparks an eagerness to walk with students-soon-to-be-alumni and prepare them for whatever their future will hold—good or bad. I don’t want to stifle anyone’s passion, but I hope I can help others be more aware of the unpredictability of life and encourage them not to give up or be afraid of reevaluating their future trajectory. I don’t know what that looks like practically yet, but at the end of the day, I’m driven to work with students at transitional points in their budding adult lives.

As for writing, I mostly write for young adults because I recognize the common battles we’re all fighting during this age in our lives, and I hope to weave narratives that echo those shared struggles. My themes are intended to be related to typical young adult challenges, such as depression, loss (whether family, friendships, dreams, etc.), loneliness and fear of not belonging, and change, to name a few. Our Company of Fools and its planned sequels are all about young adult coming of age, and Leah walks through and sees several manifestations of these difficulties. It’s the project that first stirred a desire to write for young adults, probably because it is the story born of my college years. Its focus on the young adult experience inspired the thematic changes for many of my other story ideas as well.

I see my life’s ministry aimed at young adults, at least right now. It’s so cool and affirming to me that my career passion and my writing mission overlap with this demographic. As young adults become their own independent people, there’s a lot of truth and encouragement they need to hear. I want to do that on both fields: writing and student affairs work. My focus may change as I grow older, but for now I’m glad that God has called me to work with and write for young adults.