In Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance, he says that there is a fairly new stage in becoming an adult in the modern age. This is a person who is post-college but not yet settled down with a family. They are not a teenager, but they are not really a full-fledged adult either. It’s this awkward transition phase. Aziz says Psychologist Jeffery Arnett calls this stage “emerging adulthood.”
EMERGING. I am emerging into being an adult. Gross.
So, this term was coined to describe this new stage of life that young people are experiencing due to more people pursuing careers and getting married later than previous generations.
Arnett says emerging adulthood particularly applies to young adults in developed countries that don’t have children, don’t live in their own home, and don’t have sufficient income to become fully independent in their early or late 20s.
This person was previously viewed much more negatively. If you were post-college, single, still living at home and didn’t have a stable income, you had somehow failed. Now… you’re just average.
Still, looks like us single young adults, wandering aimlessly into unknown territory, have some work to do. Much to our chagrin, we didn’t come out of college with diamond rings or six-figure incomes. Lousy let downs, right? Must be because we’re all self-absorbed, entitled millennials.
In all seriousness, every generation faces the challenge of trying to get older generations to take them seriously. Generation after generation, the older people will always think “Ugh, kids these days” while shaking their heads. And young people will continue to push back against what that they believe is outdated and irrelevant. Some people like to think everyone my age is lazy, entitled and narcissistic.
I don’t buy that for a second. But that’s for another day.
For now, just know that we’re not all like that. We’re just stuck in this weird phase of not totally knowing what we’re doing. It’s no wonder we turned out like this. We were fed lines like, “You can be anything you want when you grow up” our entire lives. And now that we’re here, everyone’s like “Oh… yeah, uh, forget that. We’re were just saying that so you’d go to college. Now, be realistic, and good luck surviving in the real world with all those ‘dreams.’ Oh, and social security probably won’t be a thing by the time you’re a senior; guess you should have started saving for retirement when you were in diapers.” Cool.
As I journey into this awkward transition phase of trying to prove myself as a “real adult,” you can join me each week as I attempt to describe the rollercoaster ride that is emerging adulthood. I’m starting the “Emerging Adulthood Series.”
Week by week, I’ll have a new tale of navigating through things like living on your own for the first time, having to sit at a desk for nine straight hours, and trying not to crawl under said desk to hide from your responsibilities.
Up Next Week: The Sky’s the Limit–and Other Lies from my Childhood.