Log in

True Story: “Real World” Messier Than I Thought

This is part of a series of Interviews and writing from young adults who reflect on their treatment to transition to “real life.” Some went to treatment as a teen and others went as young adults.



Coming out of a highly structured, intensive residential treatment program was more difficult than I thought. There, I had my days planned out for me, meals prepared (for free), and therapy was an expectation; I felt I was on top of the world when I left. 

The “Real World”, as we treatment kids like to call it, has been quite harder than anticipated. I’ve been learning more about having to budget money, which is a pain let me tell you, plan out my own days, and fit in therapy (plus the extra self care things I need after).

Alongside these things, I am also still trying to understand myself more and more each day. In a residential treatment center, it’s much easier to look inside yourself and get to know who the real you is, but it’s a whole different story when you leave those doors. I’ve had my slip-ups at my new place, and I did lose trust with my family members, therapist, and everyone else in my life who cares about me, but these slip-ups are inevitable. I was in treatment for 3 years, having people tell me what the right things were, and now I have to figure it out for myself. 

This is where I struggle.

Being a young adult is tough and I’m learning each day what I want for myself and my future. I mean, I’ve talked about it for 3+ years (through wilderness therapy and two residential treatment centers), but now I’m actually having to do it, which is the hardest part. I’m trying to use my new skills in tough situations, and I’m realizing that I am human and I’m having to do things my age that a lot of people don’t have to do for awhile, so self-compassion is key for me.

Yeah, I’ve made some mistakes, and I will continue to make mistakes, but it’s all about how I cope with these afterwards.

Jane Smith*  is now in a transitional program and turns 18 in August 2016. She attended a wilderness therapy program after her first treatment program & then enrolled in a second residential treatment program, where she graduated in June from high school. Jane was accepted to a university, and chose to have an intentional transition out of treatment and year off to work & grow. Jane is without the structure of residential treatment, and has a job, a cell phone, a social media presence, and continues to develop authentic relationships with her family.   


* Name changed for confidentiality.