My personal history connects me deeply to issues that many emerging adults face. In my practice, I try to normalize the process of working through those difficulties with my clients.

You might ask why I took interest in emerging adulthood and landed in the maturity development field.

The truth is, it wasn’t intentional.

My younger years took me on a long, arduous journey. Early on I recognized the distinction between what was the expected thing to do versus what my own talents and capacities were.

I grew up in an observant home with a blended family and financial struggles. Parental divorce was not widespread back then. This led me to feel different and at many times alone.

I quickly learned that appearances and images indicated a lot more than inner qualities. I recognized the need to accept this form of communication, always maintaining a strong exterior of having it all together, while also trying to make small spaces for personal expression. This created distance.

It was tough navigating and living up to expectations that life didn’t give me the tools for. It bothered me terribly how much had to be hidden. I wondered if there could be a way to show up and be accepted without fulfilling the checklist. On a stroll with my teacher late one evening, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find the answers. She stopped me and said:

“You are not confused, you are just uncertain. Let life play out; the answers will come.”

I was lucky to have mentors and teachers who guided me along the way. It took me some time to meet myself and emerge into an individual who I felt fully reflected all sides of myself. At one moment of despair I journaled a vision, or perhaps a prayer, “I’m broken down, but I will rebuild. I must rebuild.” That is what I did.

The emerging adulthood stage was pivotal to my personal development and to figuring out the answers I needed for adulthood. Part of my answer was dancing, traveling, and reading.  I landed in a PhD program, researched emerging adults, and graduated youngest in my cohort. I finally felt like an adult. “Dr. Shira” emerged. The journey was anything but simple, and my hope is to make it simpler for emerging adults as they evolve through their own processes.

If you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed by how to put together the pieces and build the life you want, I want you to know that it’s okay. It’s normal, I had to do it, and you can do it too.