The psych minor in me was practically bouncing up and down in my chair while reading it (though, if I'd actually been bouncing up and down in my seat, I probably could have gotten a nice lower-body workout, as the article spans nine pages, which, on the Internet, is pretty much the equivalent of War and Peace.) This is the kind of thing that fascinates me. If I hadn't gotten into our
The confused twenty-something in me, however, suffered from a blown mind and narrowly escaped a stiff neck from all the nodding along I was doing. I think it is safe to attribute all of my current angst and restlessness to this particular phenomenon, and while I'm not always keen on being lumped into generalizations (I am a special snowflake, dammit!), it's nice to know that I'm not a freak or a failure. This is happening to my entire generation. Sure, some people have it figured it out, but on the whole, we're lost. We're moving at a different pace than all of the generations before us... and yet, those generations have sent the benchmarkers for the timeline we're supposed to be following. We're playing by someone else's rules - no wonder it feels like we're not getting anywhere. What's more, I really do feel like an obscene amount of pressure has been placed on our generation to Be More, to be everything, do everything. We have all these opportunities and resources at our fingertips, but it's so overwhelming to even know where to start.
It doesn't help, either, to see all these other backyards that our peers are playing in, where the grass most definitely looks greener. But we can't all work for startups or be entrepreneurs or freelancers. It doesn't fit for everyone. I don't think it would work for me. I need stability and a steady income - I have far too many financial obligations and debts to pay down to play a paycheck roulette every month. I'm not sure I have the unbridled ambition, either. There are some days where I am definitely phoning it in - anyone who says they don't is a liar. But I can pick up the next day and it's okay. When my entire livelihood would revolve around being "on" all the time... I don't think I could do it. I'm exhausted and burnt out now, and I'm not working for myself. I'd either turn that perfectionist switch back on and run until I was probably actually hospitalized from exhaustion, or I'd get discouraged and hide under my blankets. Neither one is a desirable outcome. So I will stick with my 9-5 (or, um, 9-6ish, as it were) and try to make my path from here.
Scientifically speaking, I always focused more on social psych than developmental psych, so I'm not qualified to really sit on a soapbox about it, but it sounds like the adoption of a New Life Stage OMG is a pretty big deal, and it sounds like the rest of the psychology community isn't really having it. I can see their argument - for it to be An Actual Phase, it needs to be "universal and essential." This whole quarterlife crisis ("emerging adulthood") era seems to be pretty confined to, well, first world countries. Boo hoo, poor us and our problems. Not everyone goes through it. Not everyone will. But more and more of us are, and even if it's not a concrete developmental phase, it's definitely SOMETHING, and I think it's worth paying attention to. It's more than just a handful of us being in a rut - it's our whole generation, and it's not slowing down. I think it would do us well as a society to start adopting some new mindsets and possibly some modifications of social traditions and expectations, even if this phase doesn't get chiseled in the Rock of Developmental Stages. It clearly needs to be dealt with; left unchecked, it's going to have an effect on not just our generation, but the ones around us. (I'm not going to repeat the examples the article gave, you can read those if you want). It's especially going to be an interesting mix of demographics about ten, twenty years down the line when those of us who have pushed back some of the more traditional timelines are interspersed with those who haven't. I don't want to be picking out wedding flowers at my ripe old age of thirty-who-knows-what alongside some perky early-twenties recent college grad. It would make me stabby, I think. Granted, there will probably be another world-weary thirtysomething right there beside me, so there's that. I don't know where I'm going with this. My brain has wandered away from me.
In summary: there are a lot of social implications to our generation taking its sweet-ass time getting to where we're supposedly supposed to be. Good, bad, otherwise, who knows? On the one hand, our meandering paths might mean that we have had a chance to weigh our decisions and get it right the first time, because we felt confident about making up our mind. On the other, if the traditional status-quo timeline still exists and continues to be shoved down our throat, we might feel so rushed that we just give up and grab the first thing that comes along when we hit that ominous three-zero. I had a moment the other day, maybe it was today, I don't remember, where I suddenly felt very zen about turning thirty. It suddenly didn't bother me. Which is probably good, because I'll be turning twenty-seven next month and I can see
What about you guys? Are you part of this transient generation? Do you feel pressure to hurry up and hit those milestones? Have you already checked those things off your list? Do you second-guess yourself? Do you roll your eyes at the quarterlife-crisising group and mumble to yourself, why can't they just get their shit together? I'm really curious as to where everyone else lands.