18 can be an exciting and overwhelming time for teenagers. You are technically an adult and can make all sorts of decisions without the permission of a parent or guardian, but you have minimal life experience and don’t really know what you’re doing. Many 18-year-olds are focused on their social lives and what life holds after graduation. But how do you know you’re on par with other 18-year-olds?
There are a few physical, mental, and social milestones you and those around you should have achieved at this point. Let’s take a look at what a typical 18-year-old should look like today.
By the time we turn 18, most physical development is just about complete. Puberty is over or coming to an end and most kids have reached their full height. This is especially true for young women. However, increasing your height after the age of 18 is something that plenty of young men are familiar with. Young men can continue to grow for upwards of several years after turning 18. At this time they could continue to see changes in their body hair, especially the thickness of facial hair. Voices of both young men and women will also continue to change. At 18, bodies continue to change and motor skills continue to improve as teens grow accustomed to a more mature body.
The tiredness and need for lots of sleep, associated with being a growing teenager, starts to diminish slightly. At this time you should really consider becoming healthy. If you aren’t a person who participates in school sports, you should spend at least 60 minutes a day doing something physical. This improves your health, mood, boosts your energy levels, and helps you sleep better at night. If you don’t already have them, it’s time to develop some healthy habits. When you don’t prioritize your health you will start to see a significant decline in just a few years.
At 18 these issues will already start to become more apparent. It becomes harder to wake up when you haven’t had enough sleep, and your body starts to complain after you’ve eaten unhealthy food.
The Emotional and Social
At 18 most people don’t know what direction they want their life to take. Most people don’t have a 10-year plan detailing the college they’re going to attend, which internship programs they’d like to do, where they’re going to work, as well as the sort of home they’re going to own with the family they’re growing by the time they turn 30. This is unrealistic and not having your life planned out is completely normal. You are learning where and how you want to fit into the world and this comes with excitement, but a level of fear and apprehension. Asking people for help and guidance is important and at this age, teens tend to be more open to feedback from elders.
Teens are not expected to suddenly become incredibly mature at 18, but by now they are able to control their emotions (thanks to puberty ending) and they know how to handle situations better. This being said, it doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly expected to address big issues alone. The fear of failure is incredibly strong at this point in time, so experiencing feelings of existential dread into adulthood is normal, and learning how to control and quieten this is important. Teens tend to reach out for more guidance at this time.
Friend groups start to get smaller. At this time we realize that having a massive group of friends isn’t necessarily all it was cut out to be. People go in different directions and you and your friends start to take strong stances on social issues. This could cause you to lose friends leaving you with a much smaller group of friends or it could lead you to find an entirely new one altogether.
Values and Morality
Your shift in the social world to the status of “legal adult” comes with all sorts of serious considerations around morality and values. Re-evaluating social or even spiritual beliefs that were instilled by parents, guardians, social groups, and more is important. At a time when you are able to make all of your own decisions, there is often a lot of confusion, especially around religious and spiritual beliefs you’ve held as a child. There is also frustration and struggle around feeling independent, while still having to rely on the financial support of others.
At this point in time, there is also a lot of exploration of things such as sexuality and gender. Exploring where you think you fit into these boxes and where you lie on the spectrum is important to help you be the best you can be. Parents and guardians don’t always support this initially, but it is important that you explore your authentic self and find who you are and who you want to be.
How to Mature in a Healthy Way
So how can you go on maturing in a healthy way? It’s important that you seek relationships that go beyond high school. Meaningful friendships are your support system going forward. Be sure to keep communication channels between those who support you open, but also to take initiative to sever toxic friendships and relationships that do not serve to help you grow. Try to be independent and solve your own issues – you need practice. You cannot rely on others to solve your problems for you. You need to learn how to take responsibility for your decisions.
Remember, at 18 your body is still going through changes, but those physical ones are coming to an end. However, the emotional and social changes will never end. You and your life will constantly be in a state of change and adapting to those changes is how you keep afloat. Life experiences, regardless of whether they are good or bad, shape who you are and it is up to you how they shape you. You can always end up on top. Be sure to maintain healthy social relationships with the people in your life and to surround yourself with good people who elevate you.