My background in working as a therapist for college students at the Texas A&M University Student Counseling Service, as well as my work in college student ministry has given me an appreciation for the journey from adolescence to adulthood. This season in every person’s life often comes with a unique set of challenges. Emerging adulthood is ripe with opportunity, possibility, and potential. The hard work in this phase of life is discovering your unique identity while not molding yourself into an imitation of someone else. Emerging adulthood provides an opportunity to thoughtfully examine our lived experiences, growth edges, and symptoms with wonder and curiosity, discovering the potential that is latent within us.
One book that has influenced my work as a therapist is Thomas Moore’s, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. In it, he writes about approaching each day with mindfulness, learning how to gain greater depth and meaning from our experiences in the world through reflection. Rather than medicating pain, smoothing out abnormalities, or alleviating discomforts, he recommends approaching adversity with acceptance and stillness that he believes leads to greater insight. Moore states, “Our symptoms allow us to ask questions about what our soul needs.”
In practice, care of the soul is about the ongoing process and work of learning what we need to function and thrive, seeking to meet those needs in adaptive ways. Moore believes that our symptoms, if explored and reflected upon, could enlighten us to aspects of our lives where growth can occur. In my experience working with young adults, I’ve noticed that their primary focus is external, of goal attainment, skill acquisition, and self-improvement. Moore’s book, on the other hand, suggests an inward focus for realizing our own gifts and abilities and allowing space for them to emerge.
I genuinely hope that, wherever you are on your journey, you would graciously accept the person you are today and thoughtfully and courageously examine your dreams and desires for what your soul truly needs.