What is it about analyzing 20-somethings?

What is it about analyzing Generation Y that everyone loves so much (I’m talking to you, too, Gen Y bloggers) ?

Yet another article has been making the rounds, examining why we are all special and precious and therefore don’t have to work or take on any adult responsibilities.  As you can probably guess, these kinds of treatsies make the immigrant kid in me super-mad.

Another Maslow reference, another link to a study that conveniently proves what the author is trying to say and, viola! 20-somethings are lazy, precocious, and super-optimistic, which is why we have to handle them (us) with kid gloves as they go through emerging adulthood.

I hate this term, emerging adulthood.   To me, what it means is that you are rich and American and mommy and daddy are still paying bills for you, as the article points out:

While the complaints of these young people are heartfelt, they are also the complaints of the privileged. Julie, a 23-year-old New Yorker and contributor to “20 Something Manifesto,” is apparently aware of this. She was coddled her whole life, treated to French horn lessons and summer camp, told she could do anything. “It is a double-edged sword,” she writes, “because on the one hand I am so blessed with my experiences and endless options, but on the other hand, I still feel like a child. I feel like my job isn’t real because I am not where my parents were at my age. Walking home, in the shoes my father bought me, I still feel I have yet to grow up.”

God forbid a child is told she could do anything and have French horn lessons, too.  I hope she brings this up with her psychologist at her weekly sessions, paid for by Helicopter Mom and Dad.

Who doesn’t have angst, though, about that “transitional period in their lives”?  People who don’t have time to think about why French horn lessons are ruining their soul:

EVEN ARNETT ADMITS that not every young person goes through a period of “emerging adulthood.” It’s rare in the developing world, he says, where people have to grow up fast, and it’s often skipped in the industrialized world by the people who marry early, by teenage mothers forced to grow up, by young men or women who go straight from high school to whatever job is available without a chance to dabble until they find the perfect fit. Indeed, the majority of humankind would seem to not go through it at all. The fact that emerging adulthood is not universal is one of the strongest arguments against Arnett’s claim that it is a new developmental stage. If emerging adulthood is so important, why is it even possible to skip it?

Is it really a new developmental stage?  Or is it just the fact that EVERY human being goes through doubt and feelings of regressing to childhood when they are faced with big life changes but that people who are real adults deal with them with grace and humor and not by majoring in Photography and then living at home for the next ten years.

I honestly cannot stand any more of these articles that massage our collective generation’s ego.

And then. And THEN.  There is a photo gallery of what it’s like to be 20-something in the 2010s.  Let me give you the Cliffnotes if you don’t feel like looking at 20 self-indulgent pictures of hipsters in Brooklyn:

“I am SO angsty about my future that I will now go to a coffeehouse and write about it on my MacBook.
Why, oh, why God, did I have to be born  middle-class and college-educated in America?
This is, like, the worst thing you could have done to me!”




15 thoughts on “What is it about analyzing 20-somethings?

  1. So in another 20 years when nostalgia starts driving all our movies and books, will people think that everyone was a Brooklyn hipster in the 2010s, just like we tend to assume everyone was a hippie in the 60s?

  2. I think you’ve really captured the essence of the photo gallery! And of course because it’s a small world I know one of these twenty somethings…

    I do wonder though in an attempt to give my kid at least some of the things the immigrant experience took away from me (I know I sound just like “them”) if I will produce the next generation of special precious people…check in with me in twenty (years)

    1. OH please tell me more about this. I also want my kids to be as cynical and bitter as I am and all immigrant-y but I’m not sure how to achieve it given that we live in the land of abundance. I will follow your lead.

  3. I actually just read the article before I stumbled on it on here. I am so incredibly conflicted! On one hand as a Russian immigrant child, I was never told I was a precious, unique snowflake. I was brought up with the whole ‘life sometimes sucks but you have to deal with it mentality’. Basically, my parents always stressed responsibility and independence, and by the time I was eighteen I was financially independent from them, aside from my university tuition, for which they paid. Because falling back on them was not an option, I had to work and figure out what I want to do with my life by myself and there wasn’t much room for angst.
    On the other hand, I feel much older than my Canadian friends, especially those who come from a privileged background. I am only 24, but I just never got to experience the whole ‘emerging adulthood’ phenomenon, because not accepting responsibilities was never an option for me.
    In some ways I think that ‘emerging adulthood’ is a really nice North American concept. I just think it is very specific to a certain socioeconomic class, and majority of the population can’t really afford to be stuck in the transitional period for too long.

    1. I agree 100%. I feel older than some of my friends because my parents stressed the same concepts-get on your own feet, learn to make your own living, and be smart about paying your bills. I’d LOVE to just slack around and live at their house while figuring out “who I am,” but my sense of self-dignity that they cultivated so well doesn’t let me.

      At the same time, what I think is really interesting about my immigrant upbringing is my parents always support me and always offer me monetary help. After college, they begged me to live at home and work so I could save money and they insisted on paying for part of our wedding even though we wanted to do it ourselves and never asked for their help. How is it that we all turned out independent, even though our parents are always willing to cross oceans and take out loans for us?

      1. That is sooo funny! My parents also BEGGED me to move back home after school, but after I tasted the sweet, sweet independence I just couldn’t live under their roof again. And they are always so willing to help me and my boyfriend out financially or in whatever way they can. It is just a different kind of help than my Canadian friends get. Like, if I took my parents money and bought shoes, I’m pretty sure they would deport me back to Belarus, but if the money goes towards something that betters me in some way it is totally okay.
        My parents always stress that they came to this country and struggled so I wouldn’t have too, and I saw them go from complete poverty to a solid middle class. So in a way, I feel like I am obliged to at least try to do well. You know, the good ole immigrant guilt.

  4. Hm, this made me feel guilty to be a privileged immigrant child :)

    If my parents didn’t do as they did and raise as they raised I would have never become a social worker, or in other words, financially speaking the equivalent of someone who majored in photography and lives with their parents :)

    Funny though, I wanna raise my kids immigrant-y too, we should look into this further I feel like.

    1. Hahaha. But the point isn’t in how much you make, it’s the mentality of being self-reliant and learning to deal with adult situations in an adult way which I know you definitely do-your poor car! :)

      I’m thinking about setting up an immigrant camp. Wait, that sounds wrong.

      1. While I experienced more than I thought was my fair share of very harsh elements of being raised by new immigrant parents (and resented it for a while), I must admit there were some really great ones too. I am not making an effort to raise my kids ‘immigrant-y’, but it seems to be happening anyway. I guess we can not help but be who we are. The results are kind of nice, I must admit. My 10 year old is clueless (I am afraid that she may very well become that 20-something you are referring to…and we are doing what we can to help her avoid that), but my 14 year old is very well in tune with where his grandparents started and where they are now and what it took to get there. He is clearly drawing the right conclusions for himself. At least right now it is not looking like he is going to be one of ‘those’ twenty-somethings…I am pretty sure. :-)

  5. OK, I’ve gone back to read the NYTimes article at the base of this, and, umm, so what?

    Oh no! Kids aren’t getting married right out of school! Oh no! People aren’t staying in one “company job” for life! Oh no! People aren’t measuring adulthood by when they get knocked up, but instead by when they’re financially independent (hint – it’s not as easy to be financially independent when adjusted wages:cost of living has actually gone DOWN over time).

    Umm, yeah, the culture and the economy are different than they were in the 70s. That’s kind of what they do. They change. Maybe we should compare stuff to 18th century England, when the median ages at marriage were also in the late 20s, since couples had to wait til a parent died off and they could have the family farm to themselves to start their own families.

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