September 06, 2010

The 20s are like the stem cell of human development.

What Is It About 20-Somethings? by Robin Marantz Henig
The New York Times Magazine, August 18, 2010

"The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life."

"The more profound question behind the scholarly intrigue is the one that really captivaes parents: whether the prolongation of this unsettled time of life is a good thing or a bad thing. With life spans stretching into the ninth decade, is it better for young people to experiment in their 20s before making choices they'll have to live with for more than half a century? Or is adulthood now so malleable, with marriage and employment options constantly being reassessed, that young people would be better of just getting started on something, or else they'll never catch up, consigned to remain always a few steps behind the early bloomers? Is emerging adulthood a rich and varied period of self-discovery, as Arnett says it is? Or is it just another term for self-indulgence?"
Rich and varied period of self-discovery.

"The 20s are like the stem cell of human development, the pluripotent moment when any of several outcomes is possible. Decisions and actions during this time have lasting ramifications. The 20s are when most people accumulate almost all of their formal education; when most people meet their future spouses and the friends they will keep; when most people start on the careers that they will stay with for many years. This is when adventures, experiments, travels, relationships are embarked on with an abandon that probably will not happen again."

So relevant and appropriate. Henig is uncertain, and his/her? readers are uncertain that the choices people my age are making these days are the right ones--that delaying being an "adult" might have consequences. I'm not. I am so excited to be 20 years old and am so excited for the decade ahead of me. I don't know what's going to happen but I do know that I don't want to follow the traditional cycle.