Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Good Company

You may have noticed that I deleted last week's "overwhelmed" post.  (Thank you for all the comments and emails and general checking up on me as a result, by the way - you're all very sweet!)  I am definitely still overwhelmed, but I took it down because it was impolitic to post it in the first place.  I do want to talk more about some of the issues I raised there, and I will, but there's a more careful way of doing so.

You know how you're not supposed to grocery shop when you're hungry?  Similarly, you shouldn't blog when you're emotional.  Lesson learned.

Anyway, a very well-timed article appeared in this weekend's New York Times Magazine.  "What is it about 20-Somethings?" explores why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up - apparently, this age is now called "emerging adulthood."  A lot of what was written really resonated with me, especially the passage below:

"But despite elements that are exciting, even exhilarating, about being this age, there is a downside, too: dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game. More than positive or negative feelings, what Arnett heard most often was ambivalence — beginning with his finding that 60 percent of his subjects told him they felt like both grown-ups and not-quite-grown-ups." (p. 4)

I think that this ambivalence is what I was trying to express in my now-deleted post.  I definitely feel like I'm playing a game for which I haven't read the rules; a lot of my friends tell me, too, that they're figuring things out - work, relationships, bills, what have you - as they go along.  It is exhilarating, true - it's a constant adrenaline rush to be teetering just on the edge of What The [Expletive] Am I Doing.  But when I stop and look around and realize where I am, it is scary, even dreadful at times.

I know I have a few 20something readers, and more who made it through their 20s successfully.  Read the article, if you get a chance, and then tell me what you think, please.

I'll close with the last paragraph:

"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. It’s easy to see the advantages to the delay. There is time enough for adulthood and its attendant obligations; maybe if kids take longer to choose their mates and their careers, they’ll make fewer mistakes and live happier lives. But it’s just as easy to see the drawbacks. As the settling-down sputters along for the “emerging adults,” things can get precarious for the rest of us. Parents are helping pay bills they never counted on paying, and social institutions are missing out on young people contributing to productivity and growth. Of course, the recession complicates things, and even if every 20-something were ready to skip the “emerging” moratorium and act like a grown-up, there wouldn’t necessarily be jobs for them all. So we’re caught in a weird moment, unsure whether to allow young people to keep exploring and questioning or to cut them off and tell them just to find something, anything, to put food on the table and get on with their lives." (p. 10)

1 comment:

  1. Hoo boy, have I BEEN THERE. In fact, I'm still there. :-P

    I too have done the extremely personal post/delete said post. I feel so lucky to have readers who are supportive of me, but at the same time I got worried that it wasn't appropriate for the blog and might in fact come back to haunt me in some way in the future.

    That article really resonated with me, too. I felt that I was well on my way to being a grown-up -- I'd lived on my own for almost a decade -- and then life took a turn and I felt incapable of handling what was being thrown at me. I went from independent adult to insecure teenager in a really short period of time! And whether I was a too-proud adult or sulky teenager, it was really hard to ask for help. I'm glad that I did it, even if I'm still struggling with the results of that decision.

    Anyhoo. I'm glad you're on the upswing. You've taken a big, brave step with your move, and you deserve to enjoy it. :-)


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