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Birthdays & Age Expectations of Today’s Young Adult

Birthdays & Age Expectations of Today's Young Adult“Your age is your age. But more importantly, your life is your life. Enjoy where you are. Here. Right here.”
~ Today Was Meaningful Blog

My birthday recently passed, and I jokingly announced to everyone that I’m turning the same age again. (Look at me guys, I’m forever young — literally!) I think it’s safe to presume that many of my 20-something friends are also a bit reticent that we’re another year older. It’s not that we don’t know this obvious fact of life, but it still somehow hits us hard that time seems to fly incredibly fast.

But perhaps aging is just a small part of our moaning and groaning. Societal expectations — age expectations — could be what have us sighing. It’s as if we’re all on a timeline to achieve this by this age, and be in this place by that age, and on and on the cycle continues.

The “Today Was Meaningful” Blog has a few thousand followers, and the post “because I’m a twentysomething” struck a nerve. A major nerve.

She remarks that 25 appears to be the age to have your life in order (when I was 18, I had a similar train of thought). Marriages, houses, kids, insurance — all these factors weave their way into conversations. And then, you’re attending friends’ weddings, and suddenly you realize that you are that magical age. You’ve reached the classic number, which permits family and friends to ask when you’re going to tie the knot as well.

But why succumb to these expectations if they don’t truly fit in with your own life? (At least at this point.)

“Forget molds,” Jessica wrote. “Because as easy it is to forget, you’re free to do what you want with your life. The problem is that can be quite the responsibility, to live your life the way you want to, rather than the way you are expected to. Especially if that means taking a big jump. And especially when that same jump may feel like a free fall.”

Maybe that implies opting for the plane ticket to Rome instead of that post-graduate, entry-level job. Maybe you long for a nontraditional form of employment sans a high income. Maybe it means taking chances in romantic relationships, or not taking chances at all, if it doesn’t feel right. Your choices are your own, 25 or not, and if they don’t smoothly blend into society’s framework, then c’est la vie.

In fact, according to GoodTherapy, young adults today are faced with challenges that previous generations have not endured. Jeffrey Arnett, PhD, established the term “emerging adult” and noted the changes that have occurred in the last decade: Fewer jobs are available. More formal education is needed for an information-based economy. There’s less rush to marry due to cohabitation, the acceptance of premarital sex and birth control. Young women feel less pressure to have children since they’re presented with a variety of career opportunities.

The site also states that young people remain unattached to permanent homes, avoid commitments, travel or even compete for unpaid internships. “Sociologists call it the ‘changing timetable’ for adulthood.”

So, humor aside, maybe I should just embrace this new year (which sounds comical in and of itself since I still am, well, young). And more important, I’ll remind myself to dispel these societal age expectations. Why compare? We all have our own path to follow.

Birthdays & Age Expectations of Today’s Young Adult


Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her latest book, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” a collection of personal essays, can both be found on Amazon. She loves to be followed on Twitter @LaurenSuval.


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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). Birthdays & Age Expectations of Today’s Young Adult. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/birthdays-age-expectations-of-todays-young-adult/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.