Thursday, August 26, 2010

The 3-0 Deadline. Or: It's not just me.

It's been awhile, but it's time for a smarticle! Ran across a topic this evening on my favorite blog, The Frisky, and though it hit pretty close to home. People in their 20s are just not ready to be the type of adult that our parents were 30 years ago.

After a bit of research, I found that my feelings of still needing to grow-up are not just arbitrary feelings, but more of an epidemic. Glad to know that despite constantly stressing about living with a family member after earning a college degree and scoring a full-time job, I'm not the only one. And when I obsess at age 26 that there's something wrong with me because I don't feel remotely close to getting married or having children, I find comfort that there's more out there just like me. And not just a handful, it seems.

After reading the New York Times article "What is it about 20?", I feel a bit enlightened (the title of this post links to the original article). Sociologists have studied radical trends emerging in people in their 20s that are immensely different from generations past. We're more likely to move back home while searching for a job. We're also getting married later (26 for women and 28 for men), and having children later than any other generation.

It's nice to know what I deem as self-inadequacies are actually the new societal norm!

But the question is, why this shift to a 30-year childhood that would make Peter Pan jealous? It's not just the economy. This trend of prolonging adolescence has been measured prior to this most recent economic decline. Now granted, we do have the ability to reproduce longer with different things to aid us, so the biological clock can tick a little slower. Or is it that we're living longer, so the natural progression of life stretches to fill the extra years that we're able to tack on?

One of the answers the NYT suggests is that we've been taught not to settle, so why should we? I think this is the answer most relevant to me. My generation is the one where everyone is a winner. Instant gratification is demanded. Perhaps the idea that we want what we want, when we want it, is the culprit of our slowed development. Not to mention we've all been told we're the best, regardless of actual effort or performance. I know that I have been taught that if I dream it, I can achieve it. Hello, own personal heaven. Is that not the mantra we still teach our children? It makes perfect sense, then, that we've been trained to accept nothing but the best. Well, our individualized idea of whatever the best is. And we have developed the tenacity to keep on mucking through mediocrity, awaiting perfection. After all, we expect that just around the corner all our dreams will come true, as long as we show up and take advantage.

I guess it all boils down to this. When will we ever grow up? I vote when we all turn 30... or 35 which apparently is the new 25. That seems to be the magic number. I guess only time will tell! Until then, I'll keep educating myself on the ways of the world to forge ahead and lay my path perfectly so when I do finally become an adult in 4 years, it will be everything I imagined and more. After all, age is nothing but a number!

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