At 28 years old, I am with other members of my generation straddling young adulthood and adulthood. There’s a palpable pressure to enter adulthood fully, from within ourselves as much as from the outside. But with the economic situation as it is, and the resulting shift in the “normal” order of life events, we are struggling to figure out where we belong.
Sometimes, I really feel like an adult. In fact, as I grapple with 2011, sure that 2001 was only 2 years ago, I even feel OLD.
What makes me feel like an Adult:
- I’m married
- I have a car, a house and a mortgage
- I pay bills
- I’m no longer eligible for student discounts (though I still carry my student ID with me)
- I buy anti-wrinkle cream
- I shake my head at “today’s youth” for things like excessive texting and not wearing pants
What makes me feel like a Not-Quite-Adult:
- I don’t have an established career (or a career-like income) and I still wonder what I want to be when I “grow up”
- I am not quite ready to have kids
- Young adult-appropriate dreams like dropping everything to go backpacking for several months are still valid options in my mind
- The items on the “adult” list above sometimes make me say, “Jigga-what?!”
I imagine that these conflicting notions of self are common in one’s twenties. But in the current economic situation, I wonder if it’s especially confusing for us Generation Y-ers, if perhaps, there’s a paradigm shift in our whole economic and social system.
The notion of what constitutes a career is changing. It’s now the exception rather than the rule to fall into a career with a company that you will stay with for your whole working life. The American Dream is morphing to fit modern realities. Many young people are moving back to cities, where owning a home is very difficult (or maybe even impossible–in places like New York) unless you’re in the upper economic tiers.
I wonder if we’ll compare the changes of this Great Recession to the changes of the 1960s. The significance is perhaps as great, though now it’s maybe more economic than social, quieter, more forced than voluntary? We’re not eschewing the norm out of principle; we’re being pushed like little birds, finding our own way in the unknown and unfamiliar.
But I don’t know. Things often look much bigger when we’re in the middle of them. Or it could just be me, a bit self-absorbed and whiny, typically young-adultish.
What do you think?