The importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence in young adults

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence in young adults
Personal growth is an aspect of our lives which should be a constant.

We do not only develop in this area during our academic years but throughout our lives. Self-improvement (or personal development) and personal growth is triggered by situations in our lives where we are forced to face challenges or, on some other occasions, it may be triggered due to a personal need for further development. Regardless of the trigger, it is during these years of growth that our brains are most exposed to opportunities to learn and it is here that a series of key skills for adulthood should be taught.

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.” (Segal, J. et al, 2019). Emotional Intelligence supports a range of development, and awareness is one of the key points to consider in developing the skills we need for a successful adulthood.

The university phase is the perfect opportunity within a young adults development to allow for these skills to be established and ingrained along the academic curricular. Introducing concepts like emotional intelligence or self-awareness is integral at this stage of maturation, as the outcome of these years of study should not just produce a degree but reflect a much deeper knowledge of oneself.

Improving the ability to connect with others and to manage our emotions has been correlated to leadership performance (Bratton, Dodd and Brown, 2011).

The key skills to develop leadership performance are:


This would be the first skill that students need to develop. It does not only reflect being able to emotionally manage the rush of emotions surrounding their new phase of life, but will allow students who study abroad to learn to adapt to their new surroundings and commit to their responsibilities.


This area corresponds to permitting and perceiving one’s emotions and being aware of how they may affect a student’s thoughts and behaviours. Recognising this part of their thinking process, and embracing it, completely boosts their self-confidence by allowing them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and encourages development in these areas.

Social awareness:

When a student becomes part of their new community, they become exposed to new demands and requirements as well as emotions and interests from their new peer group. They develop empathy and their social awareness improves as they connect with others socially.

Relationship management

This could probably be one of the most important skills that young adults develop during their university years. Emotional awareness plays an integral part in this area of development and learning to manage new relationships should be widely supported for a successful outgrowth.

Overall, students who study abroad have the immense challenge of developing their identity as they learn these skills. Choosing a university that supports their personal growth in multiple areas, and makes them aware of the importance of emotional intelligence, enables the journey through their university years to be more fruitful, leaving students with a lasting impact as they transition into adulthood.

by Cristina Gonzalez

Bratton, V., Dodd, N. and Brown, F. (2011), “The impact of emotional intelligence on accuracy of self‐awareness and leadership performance”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 127-149

Segal, J. et al. (2019), “Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ)”, Available
at: (Accessed: 22nd December 2019)