When I think about it, the term "grown-up" is really just used by kids to describe someone older than them who can make decisions.
I hate making decisions. And yet it defines my life... and all of our lives. If you didn't make decisions your life would be stagnant. You have to choose to get out of bed in the morning. You get to decide what to eat and when to eat throughout the day - so already your well-being is being decided by you.
You decide whether or not to show up for work/school, or go looking for a job. You choose when to pay your bills and how to budget your money. You choose how to deal with your children and if you'll go to yoga class later that evening. You choose whether you will recycle that empty can or throw it in a landfill.
Although it might sometimes seem like we're stuck in life, we actually have more power than we think we do. That's the power of being a grown-up. However, as a wise movie character once said "with great power comes great responsibility." But I like to think that means that the power of being an adult means you get to choose which responsibilities you'll follow through on.
I have the responsibility to show up to clinic if I want to graduate next year. I have the responsibility to do my research if I want to keep patients. I have the responsibility to budget my money if I don't want to run out of it. I have the responsibility of keeping in touch with friends if I want them to stay my friends; and working through relationships if I want to keep them.
We tend to lose sight when we say we're stuck in life or that we have to take care of someone or do something. I'm talking about the people who can't seem to say no to anybody. They end up helping everyone else around them except themselves. They have no free time; they're stressed to the max; they're tired and worn-out and can't see any solution.
I think we all need to be reminded of balance in our lives. I would call that the "successful grown-up." The one who manages responsibility and takes care of themselves. It's not easy. But I think it's possible if you can override the power that guilt has on all of us.
Sure, guilt is a normal human emotion. It makes us apologetic. It verifies that we have morals. But we must also learn to put up our walls if someone takes advantage of that emotion and inflicts it on us constantly. I'm sure you can all imagine one person in your life who has a knack for giving you a guilt-trip over many things. It's the most awful feeling in the world. It can be a stressful emotion.
So although we can't control all variables around our lives, we need to remember balance. We need to be able to shut out the "guilt-trippers" when we have too much on our plates. We can't forget to take care of ourselves - which includes our relationships - but remember that there is always a choice. If you feel like you're stuck, remind yourself why you're there. Remind yourself what your goals are, and if you're not on the way to achieving those goals, maybe it's time to reconsider your path.
I've been in post-secondary and graduate schools for the past 9 years (currently going on my 10th). I'm what my family calls the "permanent student". But then I remind myself why I keep going to school; what my end goal is, and that the journey is worth it.