Twentysomethings: Not Kids, Not Adults

What’s the matter with these kids today? The New York Times magazine attempts to answer that in a piece studying the trends of the twentysomething generation, finding that milestones traditionally associated with adulthood are arriving later and later. According to one Canadian study, a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of the five “transition to adulthood” milestones—completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child—as a 25-year-old in the early ‘70s. One psychologist, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, has labeled people in their twenties as living in “emerging adulthood”—a time when people are more self-focused, less certain about the future but also the most optimistic. Arnett said around 60 percent of his subjects felt both like adults and not quite there yet. But, Arnett said, emerging adulthood is not necessarily a bad thing; it can give some people the opportunity to turn their lives around and not be locked into a certain dreary future, as they might have a generation ago.