Two days ago The New York Times opened a proverbial can of worms with its article, What Is It About 20-Somethings? Considering 20-something’s knack for voicing an opinion on anyt topic, this has gotten the attention is deserves. There is a summary of the article on Lemondrop.com: 10 Signs You’re a 20-Something, According to The New York Times.
As expected, Lemondrop.com sought out their star guest blogger and 20-something spokeperson, Jessie Rosen to share her thoughts. It was, in my opinion, an objective and well-put rebuttal. Here’s what the 20-nothings blogger had to say: Dear NY Times, Here’s Why I Haven’t ‘Grown Up.’ Love, a 20-Something
As soon as I read her rebuttal, 10,000 things went through my head. So I commented with the most prominent. I was surprised to receive in my inbox this morning, more than a dozen or so notifications for follow up comments. Not all of them are positive. Although I have the upmost respect for a good debate, I felt as if I was somewhat being attacked for being a mooch off my parents and blaming my fear for not growing up. Yes, this is what I stated — that I think fear is a big cause for 20-somethings delay “growing up.” I also stated that it all depends on our definition of growing up! But I don’t think my personality shined through enough. (Or there are just a lot of angry people out there!)
I took a significant amount of time responded to the comments. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to want to post. (I have tried a couple times and have not yet receive the conformation email.) Looking at the 19 or so pages of comments though, I guess they could be a bit backed up.
Rosen also posted a link to the comment on her own blog: 20-nothings. At the end you’ll see she asks for other 20-somethings to share their rebuttal. Here are my thoughts to her (which I emailed):
First of all. You offered an excellent, objective and thorough response. Well done!
As I commented on your Lemondrop post, I think a lot of it has to do with fear. I say this as a 28-year-old, who within three years of graduating undergrad, had already returned to university to change careers, and subsequently took a $22,000 pay cut to start an entry-level job in a new industry at the age of 26. Talk about taking my sweet time getting to “adulthood.”
In the area I grew up in (a middle class suburb of Long Island, NY), kids in my generation, and those following, were held to very high standards. Among the group of girls I grew up with alone, we all played sports, took dance/gymnastics lessons, played an instrument and achieved top grades in school. We weren’t threatened to do well; we were raised by parents who wanted us to live up to our fullest potential. The more exposure they gave us towards different avenues of life, the more opportunities we would have later on. It wasn’t that if we failed our parents would disown us; it was that we never learned to accept failure within ourselves. My parents in particular were proud of my accomplishments — and they showed it. I received flowers at my recitals, ice cream after my concerts and little gifts for making honor roll. I forever appreciate their support. At the same time, they both have Masters degrees. College was never an option — I was going — and grad school was subtly expected, as was a prosperous career. The thought process that I inherited was one of “Great job; now what’s next?” And this is what has kept me motivated to continuously raise my personal bar of success as a “20-something adult.”
Trying to live up to a standard of perfection can instill a concept of fear. What if we fail? What will we do if we don’t get top grades? What’ll happen if we don’t get into a top college? Will we get a good enough job? What if I don’t find Mr Right? When will I get married then? Being afraid to fail at these expected milestones leaves us stalling. But being part of a generation that was expected to outperform not only our parents, but our peers, by the time we could walk, well, what do people expect? When a blunder awards you a scarlet letter, why rush? We need to make sure we do it all right before we do anything at all.
Another point this brings up is “chasing our dreams.” One of those high standards is following what your heart wants — even if it takes ten years to get there. Our parents generation (mine were baby boomers) didn’t have as many options, or at least they weren’t aware of them. They chased dreams to a certain point, at which they then changed their path in order to make ends meet and follow the ‘get married, buy a house and have a baby’ norm. Well, with that ‘norm’ thrown out the window, there is no reason to change our path. If we’re happy, stick it out! It’s all what you consider “adulthood,” in my opinion. If adulthood is just that — having a family and a house with a white picket fence and a minivan — than go and get it. But just because my norm includes getting published, adding my stamp to the world while experiencing all it has to offer, it doesn’t mean I am less grown up. I am just as responsible as those of my friends with husbands and houses. I just chose to focus my ambitions and efforts in a different direction.
My question is, what is so wrong with that??
Elizabeth L Hatt
What are your thoughts? Does the 20-something generation need to grow up?
Or has the definition of grown up just changed?