Proof positive that if we collectively slack as a generation, someone will pay attention. It turns out sociologists, psychologists and loads of other experts are studying why and how 20-somethings are taking so long to grow up. Last week's New York Times Magazine cover story is a must-read for anyone in their 20s and anyone who has been a 20-something (basically, all of you). I'm personally still trying to make sense of the piece, which basically reads like a get out of jail card for the professional and personal shortcomings of an entire generation.
It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. It’s a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be — on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. 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.
Sound familiar? Read on.
Originally published on 9/1/2010.