How Yesterday's Adulthood Became Today's Adulting

I was talking to my 71 year old aunt the other day and mentioned my new business, The Adulting School.

“You’re opening a school for what?”

she asked, and I realized the concept would be perplexing to someone who didn’t understand the language on many levels. “Oh, you mean what we used to call managing your adult responsibilities,” was her response.

And adulting IS managing adult responsibilities. That’s true. But WHY has that term sprung up today? Why do so many of us feel ill-equipped to handle being a grown-up?

Some people seem to want to pin it on laziness or a sense of entitlement that they feel today’s younger folks have; that somehow the teens or 20 or 30 somethings today are too spoiled and “entitled” to handle the sh$#%t grown-ups have to do.

But we know that’s not true.

The fact is, the world has changed so much in the last 50 years and adulthood today IS JUST NOT what it used to be. Our world has evolved and the systems in place to prepare people to be out in the world independently haven’t quite caught up.

  • A solid career used to be an expected return on your investment in a Bachelor’s degree.
  • The average age for first marriage was 23(w)/26(m) in 1990 and today it’s 27(w)/29(m).
  • In 1980 the average age of a first-time mom was 22.7. In 2013 it was 26.
  • People used to be able to pay for college or graduate with reasonable amounts of debt.
  • People used to have a somewhat limited number of choices of where to live, where to work, and who to marry (usually the folks who were near them geographically).

Adulthood has changed so much that the 20s now cover a whole new phase of psychological development called “emerging adulthood.” (see source below)

Emerging adulthood has 5 main features:

  • identity exploration. You’re deciding who you are and what you want out of work, school and love.

  • instability. You move a lot! You either go to college or live with friends or a romantic partner.

  • self-focus. You’re the one making the decisions about what you want to do, where you want to go and who you want to be with. (Up to now parents have dished out their opinions and eventually marriage, children, and a career might influence a lot)

  • feeling in-between. You’re taking responsibility for yourselves but still don’t completely feel like an adult.

  • possibilities. Optimism reigns. Most of you feel you’ve got good chances of living "better than your parents did," and even if your parents divorced you believe you'll find a lifelong soul-mate.

Home-Ec and shop classes may have been cut, your car might have so many frigging computers in it it needs to be fixed by a drone, but YOU CAN DO THIS!

The Adulting School can help you get from:

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TO:

 

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The Adulting School is going to provide the skills and conversations necessary to get your adulting groove on!

We want you to know how to deal with your debt, how to balance your checkbook, fix your flat, have healthy relationships, and sew on a button. We know you’re tired of feeling like you wish someone’d given you the instruction manual for being a grown-up.

Welcome to The Adulting School. We’re writing the manual now.

Join our community and BE EMPOWERED.

Take the quiz: Find out your Adulting IQ

**Adapted from the APA article “Emerging adults: The in-between age”

**Arnett, Jeffery "Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties."