Do you have a college degree? Do you have a full-time job? Do you have your own home? Are you in a serious relationship?
No, I am not a bank lender.
If these questions are overwhelming, don’t sweat it. I answered “yes” to only one of these questions and according to an article in NY Times Magazine What Is It About 20-Somethings? by Robin Marantz Henig I am in good company. In fact, Jeffrey Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University views the 20s as a distinct life stage between adolescence and adulthood, which he calls “emerging adulthood.”
As Arnett points out, there are a whole host of factors that help explain this changing timetable for adulthood: Economic, societal, technological and even developmental, to name a few. The article highlights a recent study sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health which showed that human brains were not fully mature until at least 25 – which is later than what scientists previously thought.
When my Grandad was my age he was well into his career and married with two children. Although I just earned a Master’s degree I haven’t tied the knot and I don’t have any children … that I know about (ba-dump-bump).
It took him years and years to get his college degree because he was working full-time while supporting and helping raise a family. I admire the way he managed to juggle these responsibilities and advance professionally and personally, but I am also relieved that our generation doesn’t have the same kind of pressure to meet these milestones at such an early age. Sure, I would’ve prefered to start a career straight out of undergrad instead of accruing more debt from student loans, but the recession made that difficult. With one foot in the adult world and the other in a variety of other places I have been able to use this time for self-discovery, adventures, relationships, and to further my education. Now I have a better understanding of what I want and my goals and aspirations are much more clear.
Evaluate your own situation and look around at other people you know and see what stage they fit in. I have friends that are all over the spectrum. One path isn’t necessarily better than another … generally speaking. Marriage, kids and even financial autonomy might come a little later for most of us Millenials or Echo Boomers, but maybe then we won’t have to endure that mid-life crisis because we rushed through our “emerging adulthood” stage too swiftly.