Too many people are falling under the misconception that age brings a feeling of adulthood and growing up, when really it’s the experience. Many of us know what adulting is, or what it feels like anyway–going to the bank, grocery shopping, paying bills, making a doctor’s appointment, listing our own mailing addresses, registering to vote, updating expired licenses and tags, decorating our homes, furniture shopping and other areas in life that are fun and may put a dent in our wallets.

I, for one, thought that after coming to college and starting my classes I would eventually reach this feeling, but moving into a dorm isn’t what brings a feeling of maturity and growth. It wasn’t until I started to gain experience in my field, pay for my own bills and work a job to actually feel myself growing up.

Thinking that once you come to college, you immediately are an adult can be extremely dangerous. Anyone can grow too comfortable early on and not seek out as many opportunities. This mindset can also place people in situations they may not be ready for or haven’t thought out enough.

Sometimes certain events suddenly happen and many are pulled off their designed path to an alternate one, and handling these situations as young adults can be difficult. There are some who feel like adulthood is defined by our current standing as young adults without degrees or higher paying career tracks available to us. Sometimes adulthood can simply feel like poverty without reward or success.

For much of my childhood, I was scared to grow up and lose much of the free time that I enjoyed, but processing that physical, mental and emotional feeling of maturation in one’s life is fantastic and drives you to continue to become involved. Of course, no one figures out in the beginning how best to handle it all well, but for those who are new to independence, it can be scary but all freeing. The process has a serious learning curve, and it varies from person to person.

Now, I’m not saying that you must constantly push yourself to do more, but there will be times in one’s life where you feel like you are running and cannot stop. Or maybe you’re chasing something that never seems to get closer. Just know there will also be moments of rest, and these moments are meant to be encouragement for the faster paced moments of life and will one day lead you to rest and fulfillment.

Because adult life comes not from time or age, but independence, involvement and experience, and it is so important for college students to be actively thinking about this. This is a crucial moment in all our lives, and how we use it determines our future.