What Does Adulthood Mean for 20-somethings?

I am the perfect product of a 20-something generation.  I am 23 years old, I’ve graduated college, I’m single and I live at home with my parentals (wow, typing it in a sentence just made me realize how pathetic it all sounds).   I’m doing a bit of freelance blogging and slowly looking for jobs (by slowly I mean sifting through jobs that don’t give me a heartbeat and leaving my energy for the ones I truly love).  Living the dream can be a slow and patient process, but I have the drive to let the dreams settle in.  I want to find that perfect job.  I want to do something I love and as long as it’s going to take me – I am willing to let it ride.

And according to a recent New York Times post, that makes me (and the rest of us) lazy and immature.

The article states (in a rather condescending way, I might add) that it is taking longer than every for 20-somethings nowadays to grow up.  They claim a confident march towards adulthood is rare these days and getting there is happening later then ever: “Kids don’t shuffle along in unison to the road of maturity, they slouch toward adulthood at an uneven, highly individual pace.” Woah. 20-somethings can still read, you know.

The article continued with support from sociologists saying this gap change in generations is called, “the changing timetable for adulthood.”  They claim the transformation to adulthood is: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.  Wait, does that mean I’m 23 and not an adult (assuming I’m living at home, financially dependent not married and with child)?  Besides making me feel like an ultimate failure, I think it is totally wrong (or maybe that’s just my 20-somethingness talking).  Although it might look like I’m living the same life I was at age 5, I have an education and a future. I have a plan. I am making my way towards the milestones that qulify me as an “adult.”

I am not lazy, immature or shirking my responsibilities.

Contrary to what sociologists might say, our generation is growing up. The world has changed since our parents hopped on the path to adulthood, especially the economy.  With a faltering job market, it’s increasingly difficult for 20-somethings nowadays to jump out of college and find a job.  Also, since it’s the norm to go to college now, the competition is more concentrated.  Back in the ’70s people that went to college really stuck out.  Now to stick out, we have to go to deeper extremes – like getting our masters. Which takes longer.

In addition, we have different goals than the generations before us. We grew up hearing we could be whatever we wanted to be and that we should never settle. Unlike the jobs our parents took – the ones that offered a good salary and benefits for their new families – we aren’t looking for just any job- we are looking for jobs that make us happy, fulfilled. And that takes a little longer.

Does that mean we’re less “grown up”?
Absolutely not.

The term growing up has changed.  Previous generations may have endured more difficulties in making money for their children or not being given the solid opportunity to dream big, but we 20-somethings have that opportunity now. My parents have always told me to, ‘follow my heart.’  Even if that means pursuing a job that is unconventional. And living at home with them does not mean I’m not growing up. Not getting married or having kids by the time I’m 25 does not mean I’m not growing up.

It means I’m taking the time to be pragmatic and figure out exactly how I want to spend the rest of my adult life.

And I don’t know about you, but that seems very grown up to me.

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