When I was in my early twenties I was fascinated by a book called Getting from Twenty to Thirty: Surviving Your First Decade in the Real World by Mike Edelhart. It was published in 1983; I found it in the library. The main thesis of the book was that if you didn’t get started in a career and settled into a monogamous relationship by 30, chances are you never would. Gulp!
I now relate to the “emerging adult” concept http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=all
My twenties did look much more like this:
One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married.
It’s interesting that brain development continues to age 25, as I had friends who were married by then. That was definitely too early for me!
This former definition of adulthood, from the same article, reminds me of Olivia’s recent question as to whether childless women are real adults (http://readinginthebath.com/2012/05/07/not-a-real-adult/):
We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so.
I so agree that 25 seems way too young to be married. Unfortunately my idea doesn’t seem to match that of society in general, and I seem to have missed a window of opportunity without realising it at the time. I guess I was a late developer, I was nineteen before I had my first boyfriend. Why that window of opportunity has to close rather than remain open for the stragglers like me, I still have no idea.
On the other hand I might be considered ahead of my time, having more similarities with the ‘failure to launch’ generation of today. I wonder if today’s young women will find themselves permanently single in middle age or whether there will be a change that results in the window of opportunity being left open for them.
I was 22 before I had my first long relationship.
I’ve written this before, but there are actual men on the internet who post that women lose their allure after the age of 25. 25! Our brains haven’t even finished developing yet. Perhaps that’s the point.
I think we were wise to wait, but it was also frustrating for me to find that by the time I was ready, in my early thirties, it seemed that most men had paired off already or were looking at younger women.
I also wonder about today’s young women and what will happen to them.
I had a male friend (married) who had a quite sound opinion that no man is ready to get married before he is thirty at least. For some reason he thought women were ready for marriage much sooner in life however. I don’t see that there should be such a difference between the sexes, and marriage after thirty for both seems optimal to my mind. But perhaps the fault lies in me for being late to develop that level of maturity, or the fault lies in my thinking maturity is a good thing to have before embarking on a marriage in the first place.
I too have read those comments on the lack of appeal of women over 25. It would seem we really haven’t moved on from the antiquated ideas of centuries ago, where a woman had only a few ‘seasons’ in which to determine her whole future: find a husband, or be an old maid till death. Now we just have the option of a career thrown into the mix, but essentially if you haven’t found your husband early in life you are just as likely to be relegated to spinsterhood, just one with a job.
Lots of interesting thoughts about adulthood, maturity and responsibility. I especially liked ReadingintheBath’s post and the comments to it. Thanks for providing the link.
The 5 milestones mentioned above do not necessarily produce mature adults and can be temporary; all of us can think of examples of that. Those milestones are external events, acquisitions, economic matters. Maturity is something more, internal, permanent. I would create different milestones for adulthood and maturity.
I agree– we can all think of parents who don’t necessarily seem all that mature.
I want to ask “what is maturity”? What does it mean to be “mature”? And also, is it possible to be mature in one area of life but not another?
Interesting question. To mature means to grow and to develop. Trees and fruit mature. A person might mature in some respects, but less so in others. There is physical maturity, emotional maturity, social maturity, sexual maturity, spiritual maturity, professional maturity, intellectual maturity, etc. What is considered mature differs depending on the culture, the time period, and the context. To say an adult is immature is generally a putdown, but to say he or she is youthful is a compliment. Maturity is not always expressed positively. A person might be mature in setting goals and planning carefully, but she might do that in a ruthless way. A person might be considered mature because she is responsible, but that same person might be very fearful, stuck in a rut, no longer growing. A person might be considered mature because she is empathetic, but it’s possible to be too empathetic in an unhealthy, co-dependent way. Regulating our emotions might be considered mature, but an unrestrained showing of intense feeling is not necessarily immature. Caring for someone or something apart from ourselves is considered mature, but we usually care most for what we identify with. To me, maturity is no particular attribute or lifestyle. It is a continuum and includes the possibility of becoming over developed with signs of rot, especially when a person grows in one area but fails to balance that with growth in other areas.