Fear Of Growing Up: Do You Have To Be An Adult?

Last updated by Rosie Harlow

“When I’m older, I’ll be...”. Who hasn’t fantasized about adulthood and the freedom it seemed to offer? The problem is that sometimes you find yourself as an adult, no longer wanting to leave childhood behind, and having to face up to the responsibilities that come along and crush you. But at some point, we all have to face the facts: in real life, our invisibility cloak doesn’t work. You’re a grown-up, and you need to deal with it because if you don’t, you risk falling from a great height and that fall can sometimes be brutal.

Fear Of Growing Up: Do You Have To Be An Adult?

Fear of growing up: a little whim or a real problem?

Growing up can be scary 😨. For some, it means leaving the security of the family cocoon, for others it’s the anguish of losing the carefree nature associated with our younger years. More responsibility and less fun, in fact, when you look at it like that, it’s understandable that some of us feel a slight apprehension at the idea of reaching the milestone. Yes, the world of childhood knows no bounds. Sure, children have rules and obligations ⛔, but their dreams and imaginations know no bounds. Becoming an adult means stepping into reality, coming up against the limits it imposes, and facing up to them.

>>> Read; When do you become an adult?

Adulthood: between limits and fears

While from a child’s point of view, adulthood seems to be a place of infinite freedom where everything seems possible, once on the other side, things are much less rosy. We quickly become aware of the limits imposed by adulthood and the fears it generates.

  • ☠️ We’re older, and we become aware of our own death
  • 🛤️ We need to try and find meaning in our lives, a career, projects, ambitions, etc.
  • 🚶 We often also need to learn to live alone when we leave the family cocoon

Finally, the fear of growing up is also the fear of asserting yourself, of ceasing to be your parents’ child and becoming a person in your own right, released into the vast world. It’s also the fear of taking action, linked to the fear of failure, but also linked to the idea of death, which is much more present in adulthood than in childhood. Why do this or that if the end is inexorably approaching? And finally, growing up also means having to face up to the fear of loneliness.

Fear of growing up = Gerontophobia?

Gerontophobia isn’t exactly the fear of growing up, but the fear of growing old, of aging 👵. There’s even talk of an aversion to anything to do with old age. People with gerontophobia do everything they can to try and slow down the aging process. If they’re already old, they may also be in denial, refusing the advantages associated with their age or refusing to form relationships with people their own age.

The fear of growing up can lead to a Peter Pan syndrome, in which a person doesn’t want to enter adulthood and/or locks themselves in the world of childhood, whereas a person suffering from gerontophobia will be afraid of the next stage, that of becoming an elderly person.

Why are we afraid of growing up?

The fear of growing up usually comes from two sources: uncertainty and change 🤔. As we get older, we’re faced with new responsibilities and decisions that can shape our entire future lives. It’s scary stuff! What’s more, growing up often means leaving familiar things behind: family, friends, a house, a town or even a way of life. Growing up comes naturally. We get older whether we like it or not, but becoming an adult means really taking the plunge and leaving the nest.

Sometimes it may be about leaving the family home, other times it’s about finding a job, making up your own mind or even meeting new people, starting a relationship or simply doing your laundry, changing the oil or paying your taxes. The older we get, the more we realize the constraints that come with growing up. It’s sometimes hard to accept this reality when you’re not used to constraints, or when you haven’t learned how to deal with frustration.

Standing on your own two feet

And becoming an adult also means being independent and autonomous, but that’s a process that sometimes takes time and is often learned in childhood or, more particularly, adolescence.

What are the consequences of an excessive fear of growing up?

When you think about it, there are indeed loads of good reasons for wanting to stay a child. The danger then is that you suffer from Peter Pan syndrome and reject everything to do with the adult world. You run the risk of becoming dependent on your parents or a substitute partner. It’s also an attitude that, not surprisingly, prevents you from developing as an adult and reaching your full potential. Failure to come to terms with the adult world can lead to a variety of problems of varying degrees of danger and damage to your physical and mental health:

  • inability to take responsibility for your choices
  • relationship problems: difficulty connecting with others, fear of commitment, emotional dependence, etc.
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • addictions

How to overcome this fear?

Overcoming the fear of growing up often requires you to work on yourself. You can start by recognizing and accepting that it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of change. I bet you're wondering to yourself whether a narcissist can change, right? We all have good reasons for staying in our comfort zone, except when it prevents us from proving ourselves and developing as individuals. Being afraid of growing up and yearning to remain in the world of childhood isn’t a situation that enables someone to fulfill themselves or even to be happy. Where there’s fear, rejection and even phobia, we rarely talk about happiness 😥.

To get over the fear of growing up, you can work on stress management techniques such as meditation, but therapy is often necessary. Indeed, a psychologist can unblock this type of situation, in particular through CBT, and cognitive behavioral therapy. As I see it, the fear of growing up often means that we think we need to conform to a certain idea of what adult life is. But being an adult isn’t just about constraints and responsibilities. They’re indeed very present, but it’s not all or nothing. There’s no obligation, for example, to give up a childhood passion. The idea is also to find the balance that will make you a fulfilled adult. A balance between responsibility and pleasure, between maturity and a carefree attitude.

Editor’s note: Seek help to move forward

If this fear is holding you back from happiness and fulfillment, don’t hesitate to consult a psychologist. They’ll help you to overcome this fear by helping you to understand its origins, manage your emotions better, and change your thinking patterns. They’ll give you the tools and keys you need to enter adulthood more serenely.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Rosie Harlow

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. For as long as I can remember, I have always used paper as a punching bag. Get to know me, I am Rosie Harlow.

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Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


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  2. Invalid date
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