No Faith in the 20-something

By Shikole Struber

The New York Times published an article this morning about the state of 20-somethings. It is extremely condescending and not at all appreciated by the post grads who are trying hard to make a life. The article claims that it is taking longer and longer for us to reach "adulthood." They reach this conclusion because so many of us are forced to move home, or change jobs, or can't get a job, or don't want to settle down and get married.

They characterize the psychological profile of "emerging adulthood" as: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a having “a sense of possibilities." While us post grads can relate to most of these things, they are not at all limited to describing 20-somethings. Most people explore their identity throughout their lives. And that feeling of "in between?" Any person, 20-something or otherwise, can have this. Especially if in between jobs, which is happening a lot lately because of the economy. I also don't understand why the article talks about having a sense of possibilities in such a negative tone. Being optimistic about life is a blessing and should not be taken for granted, and should also not be confined to us post grads.

I'm also really pissed that the article lists the 5 stages of the traditional transition to adulthood like they are requirements for our lives. Just because a 20-something is single without a child should not mean they are not an adult.

The article did have one good point about adulthood, no one can seem to decide when it should kick in:
People can vote at 18, but in some states they don’t age out of foster care until 21. They can join the military at 18, but they can’t drink until 21. They can drive at 16, but they can’t rent a car until 25 without some hefty surcharges. If they are full-time students, the Internal Revenue Service considers them dependents until 24; those without health insurance will soon be able to stay on their parents’ plans even if they’re not in school until age 26, or up to 30 in some states. Parents have no access to their child’s college records if the child is over 18, but parents’ income is taken into account when the child applies for financial aid up to age 24. We seem unable to agree when someone is old enough to take on adult responsibilities. - Robin Marantz Henig

The article concludes with a question: "Does that mean it’s a good thing to let 20-somethings meander — or even to encourage them to meander — before they settle down? That’s the question that plagues so many of their parents." What they don't understand is that it's not the parents decision. It is solely our decision if we would like to "meander." None of us should have to settle down. These statements are treating us like children who can and need to be controlled. How are we supposed to "grow up" if the people assume our parents still decide how much we "meander?"

I resent that the NYT article is accusing us post grads of delaying adulthood. If they knew the struggles any of us were facing they would know that being in an unstable limbo, not knowing where your next paycheck will come from, forces us into adulthood even faster. Thank you NYT for having no faith in our generation to grow up.


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