There are so many steps to becoming an adult, and they all take place at different times in one’s life. At what point do you really consider yourself an adult? Puberty is too early in modern society. Buying a house or having children doesn’t apply to everyone, at any age. And having a job or moving away from your family depends more on the current economy than one’s age. Defining when someone becomes an adult is like trying to pinpoint a certain drop of water in a moving river.
In fact, if you think of the transition to “adulthood” as a collection of markers—getting a job, moving away from your parents, getting married, and having kids—for most of history, with the exception of the 1950s and 60s, people did not become adults any kind of predictable way.
And yet these are still the venerated markers of adulthood today, and when people take too long to acquire them, or eschew them all together, it becomes a reason to lament that no one is a grown-up. While bemoaning the habits and values of the youths is the eternal right of the olds, many young adults do still feel like kids trying on their parents’ shoes.
“I think there is a really hard transition [between childhood and adulthood],” says Kelly Williams Brown, author of the book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, and its preceding blog, in which she gives tips for navigating adult life. “It’s not just hard for Millennials, I think it was hard for Gen X-ers, I think it was hard for Baby Boomers. All of a sudden you’re out in the world, and you have this insane array of options, but you don’t know which you should take. There’s all these things your mom and dad told you, presumably, and yet you’re living like a feral wolf, who doesn’t have toilet paper, who’s using Arby’s napkins instead.”
The Atlantic looks at the transition to adulthood in many dimensions: physical maturity, intellectual capability, legal status, those markers we often use, and the changes in society that make them less useful in determining what adulthood really is. When did you start to consider yourself really an adult? Or have you? -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Nazrul Islam Ripon)