When Do You Become an Adult? - Deepstash
When Do You Become an Adult?

When Do You Become an Adult?


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When Do You Become an Adult?

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No One Is Growing Up

Getting a job, moving away from your parents, getting married, and having kids-for most of history, with the exception of the 1950s and '60s, people did not become adults in any kind of predictable way.

And yet these are still the venerated markers of adulthood today, and when people take too long to acquire them, or eschew them altogether, it becomes a reason to lament that no one is a grown-up.


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The Social Constructs On Adulthood

Social constructs have real consequences: they determine who is legally responsible for their actions and who is not, what roles people are allowed to assume in society, how people view each other, and how they view themselves.

There is either no answer, or a variety of complex and multifaceted answers.

One way to measure adulthood might be the maturity of the body. Surely there should be a point at which you stop physically developing when you are officially an "adult" organism?


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Brain Development

  • At about age 22 or 23, the brain is pretty much done developing, according to Steinberg, who studies adolescence and brain development.
  • Plenty of brain functions are mature before this point, though. The brain's executive functions-logical reasoning, planning, and other high-order thinking-are at "adult levels of maturity by age 16 or so."
  • A 16-year-old, on average, should do just as well on a logic test as someone older.


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Becoming An Adult

  • The answer to "when do you become an adult" has to do with when you finally have acceptance of yourself.
  • Patients who seem secure through any life struggles are the women who seem like adults.
  • They still have a young soul but roll with all the changes, accepting the changes.


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Emerging Adulthood

  • Emerging adulthood is a vague, transitory time between adolescence and true adulthood.
  • It's so vague that sometimes 25 is the upper boundary, and sometimes 29.
  • While adolescence clearly ends at 18, when people typically leave high school and their parents' homes, and are legally recognized as adults, one leaves emerging adulthood... whenever one is ready.


16 reads

Time To Explore

  • The late teen years and early 20s are probably the best time to explore.
  • Anthony Burrow, an assistant professor of human development at Cornell University, studies the question of whether young adults feel like they have a purpose in life.
  • In a study, commitment to a purpose was associated with higher life satisfaction and positive feelings.
  • Other research has identified exploration as a step on the path to forming an identity, and people who've committed to an identity are more likely to see themselves as adults


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Personal industry, devotion to something bigger than oneself, part of a historical process, and peers who grow with you all play roles.


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Adulthood After the War

  • Before World War II, it was unusual for the young to achieve the markers of full adult status before their mid- or late twenties.
  • The golden age of easy adulthood did not last long.
  • Starting in the 1960s, the marriage age began to rise again and secondary education became more and more necessary for a middle-class income.
  • Unfortunately, not all of society has caught up, and older generations may not recognize the young as adults without these markers.
  • Many young people still want to establish careers, get married, to have kids. but they just don't see them as the defining traits of adulthood.


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No One Path To Adulthood

  • There's no one path to adulthood
  • Circumstances sometimes thrust people into adult roles before they're ready
  • Adulthood's responsibilities can definitely be thrust upon you, and if the world is treating someone as an adult before they feel like one, that can be challenging
  • A study done by Rachel Sumner found no difference in overall levels of purpose between adults who went to college and adults who didn't, which suggests that a particular privilege isn't necessary for someone to find purpose.


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