To Be or Not To Be….An Adult?

I recently read an article in the New York Times Magazine about how 20-somethings in the US are loath to grow up and accept responsibility. The article basically outlines the five things that define an adult in psychological and sociological circles as being:

  1. Finishing school
  2. Starting a career
  3. Becoming financially independent
  4. Choosing a life partner
  5. Having children

If these are the objective markers of what it means to be an adult, I have recently achieved 3/5 adulthood in the last 3 months. However, I don’t feel much different as a 24 year old 3/5 adult than I did as a 23 year old non-adult. The article goes on to pretty mush illustrate the state of our generation as one of wandering non-adults in search of Never Never Land. I’d like to deny this accusation, and defend our age cohort as a group of motivated movers and shakers, but the truth is that by now we’re in our mid-20’s and non too many of the people I know have made it all that far on the adult checklist.

Yes, I have a job that should be my career and have recently graduated and become financially independent of my parents. But I can’t deny that I’d rather be at grad school or overseas somewhere on an adventure, or interning for some do-gooder cause. I still live with my college roommates and we still party, albeit not as much as when we were in college, quite frequently. So what makes you an adult? What’s the difference between us and them?

Maybe adulthood isn’t something that you choose. Maybe it’s something that just happens. By my age, my parents were married, on their way to careers, with house payments-the whole nine yards. My mom had me when she was 25.  I’m not saying that I am ready for any of that, but what is it about me and most of my friends that makes us shirk adult responsibility? Personally, for me the fact that we don’t have any of that is liberating. It’s a relief that we haven’t reached a 5/5 on the adulthood scale.

I assume that one day we’ll be adults, but will it be because we want to be, or because we fall into it without meaning to? At this point in my life I’d be perfectly happy bumming around doing things that I love with the people that I love sharing life with. Responsibility be damned. Unfortunately the famed irresponsibility of my 20’s is going to have to wait a few years while I suck it up.

Aforementioned article can be found here:


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