While I was working on my freelance stuff yesterday, I was listening to Matt Wertz’s song “Waiting,” which reminded me of this article that I’d bookmarked a while ago and put in my “blog fodder” folder.
The part of the lyrics that reminded me of it was:
“I guess I’m just scared I’m the only one here growing old…
growing old, but not quite growing up.”
Now, this isn’t actually a fear that I have. I definitely know that I’m growing up, despite my recent life choices that some people may not see as the responsible or mature path. I’m already learning more in this transition that I could have staying where I was.
But I think it’s a common fear among 20-somethings these days. We can’t help but think about how we measure up to our peers:
Am I on track? Is she more mature than me? Is he further along in his career than I am? Am I stuck in the college mentality? Do I still have a lot of growing up to do? Should I be planning a wedding right now too? Can I be as successful as them? Am I really going to be OK?
When I first read this article from The New York Times back in August, I think I probably took a little offense to it. Boomerang kids? Twenty-somethings are taking longer to reach adulthood? HA. Not me!
Well, maybe I shouldn’t have spoken so soon. At this point, it’s still not out of the question that I might have to move back home with my parents in order to not go broke paying my Annapolis rent. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but I’m being realistic that it’s a possibility. And have I reached “adulthood” yet? Well, that’s debatable, I suppose, based on your definition of adulthood.
Is adulthood “built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on” or is adulthood simply making a living whether or not it’s considered a “career,” learning from your experiences and waiting until you are truly ready for things such as marriage and kids?
According to the article, “The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.”
The “avoiding commitments” part of this seems a bit presumptuous to me. I don’t believe that my peers and I are avoiding commitments on purpose, we’re just hesitant about committing to the wrong things. We’re afraid of making mistakes, of choosing the wrong path, and of hurting other people when we’re not sure what exactly it is that we want. So we’re trying to figure out what makes us happy, what path it is that’s going to lead us to success and true happiness, and how being happy ourselves can help make others happy. We don’t want to settle. We want to see the world, learn to love ourselves, and learn to be happy alone before we can decide what kind of permanent home and romantic relationships we want to take the risk on.
Or at least that’s my take on it. I’m interested in hearing what my peers think of this.
Fellow 20-somethings, are we taking too long to grow up? Are we doing it all wrong? Was our parents’ way the right way? Or are we doing exactly what we should be doing? Do you feel like you’re measuring up to expectations, of society, of your parents, of your peers?
The rest of the article is definitely worth giving a read – those two excerpts are from the first few paragraphs, and the article is ten pages long. Check it out and let me know what you think. I know I’m intrigued…