Navigating young adulthood is not an easy task, this is nothing new. However, it has become even more apparent recently with the Millennial generation front and center displaying the ways our culture has evolved and the struggles that come along with that as a twenty-something. Referred to as “emerging adulthood,” this is the period between the end of adolescence and the traditional, young-adult responsibilities of a stable job, marriage and parenthood. Psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, PhD has made this the topic of his latest book entitled “Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century.” This phenomenon seems to have only arisen in the past few decades. Being in the Millennial bracket myself - having been born between the years of 1982 and 2000 - I have felt the angst and uncertainty first hand.
For a lengthy period in my twenties, I found myself confused about a lot of things. What is that one true passion of mine that I should turn into a career? Where should I live? Am I making smart financial decisions? Should I start focusing on getting married? Should I get a dog? Should I be living in closer proximity to my parents? The questions, self doubt, guilt and everything in between went on…
Sound familiar? I hope so. Not just for my own sake, but for reassurance that this kind of thinking is normal and has even been imbedded in Millennials as they come of age. We have grown up being told that the world is our oyster, to dream big and that the possibilities are endless! Overwhelming? Just a tad. While I teetered - and even stumbled at times - through the past ten years I can at least look back knowing that they have brought me to where I am today.
The strongest and proudest moments I recall when reflecting on my twenties, are those for which I took a risk and followed my gut (or in some cases, fate). I was lucky enough to live in 4 different cities by the time I turned 30. I came to the conclusion that I must stop putting pressure on myself to figure out what that one thing is that I should be doing for a career - that it’s okay to have many! I lived as an independent woman (shout out to Destiny’s Child) for many of the past years, giving me the time and space needed to work on myself. I’ve gained a desire to focus on my health and well-being - physically and emotionally. My journey has also taught me to always keep in mind all of the things I already have to be grateful for, instead of focusing on the “ifs” or what I lack.
78% of Millennials would choose to spend money on a desirable experience over buying something that is desirable. They are all about creating, sharing and capturing memories (-CMO.com). To me, this is a positive note and I am thankful to have had the support from family and friends to rack up those experiences. While we may be faced with some difficult-to-grasp growing pains, we are also one of the most opportunity rich generations that gets to live on this beautiful earth.
I encourage myself daily to breathe, live more in the present, and make hastier decisions. To not give in to the paralyzing and plentiful thoughts that can form in my mind. Don’t be afraid to give in to the struggles, and realize they are only temporary. You can only regret NOT doing something, so why not go for it?