And here is my respons-err, Alexandra Robbin’s response.
“…the reality of life in your twenties is much more complex. Yes, you’re free to move about the cabin as you wish, but what about that job satisfaction? What about that post-college relationship that falls flat once put to the test of the real world? What about feeling lonely?” (Franklin xvii).
“In recent years, a new wave of classifications have been thrust upon those of us who happen to fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine: We are, apparently, twisters, permanent adolescents, boomerangers, kidults, thresholders, and slackers, living in a ‘Peter Pan syndrome.’
Peter Pan syndrome is so named because many researchers and reporters assume that twentysomethings ‘refuse to grow up.” Similarly, the terms ‘twixters’ and ‘thresholders’ are based on the notion that the post-pubescent purgatory we occupy is one of our choosing. Sociologist Terri Apter insisted recently, ‘They’re on the threshold, the doorway to adulthood, and they’re not going through it.’ It’s as if, after sixteen or more years in a sheltered school setting, we pull over out graduation tassels and suddenly are expected to become equipped emotionally, pragmatically, and financially to make the major decisions associated with going through that door. But that’s not the way it works.
The labels ‘permanent adolescents’ and ‘boomerangers’ – as in we listlessly boomeran back into our parents’ homes – imply that, out of laziness, we would much prefer to waste our lives loafing while watching afternoon television and munching Fritos on our parents’ couch. CNN has specifically accused twentysomethings of wanting to merely ‘lay around.’
We don’t languish in our state of limbo, however, as much as we battle it. Simply put, it is more difficult to be a twentysomething now than it was forty years ago. We face the most competitive hiring pool in history, with increasing numbers of college graduates. Furthermore, the age at which older generations expect us to succeed is rapidly plummeting; no longer is a thirty-year-old CEO deemed a whiz kid. With professional athletes drafted out of high school and A-list singer-actors in their teens, we’re made to feel that if we haven’t achieved something monumental by age twenty-five, then we’re already over the hill. Regarding marriage, we are heavily influenced by that legendary 50 percent divorce rate. We do not want to make our parents’ mistakes.
The truth is, we’re not averse to growing up; we simply want to grow up responsibly.
If ‘growing up’ means attaining typically adult accoutrements, then it’s not a question of won’t, but can’t. Generations before us could afford to support a marriage, house, and family in their early twenties because entry-level incomes could fund them. Today we wait until at least our late twenties, with good reason. We are the first generation in American history that won’t do better financially than our parents. Add to that set-back the crushing costs of student loans and lower incomes than previous twentysomethings had, and it’s clear why taking our time is not just a preference but a necessity. Arguably, it is more adult of us to delay traditionally adult responsibilities until we financially and emotionally are able to support ourselves, let alone others.
When I first began using the phrase ‘Quarterlife Crisis’ to describe a common experience occurring between the late teens and late thirties, it provoked derision from older adults. Contrary to a belief popular among older people, the Quarterlife Crisis is not the idle whining of a coddled, presumptuous post-adolescent. It is the response to reaching the turning point between young adulthood and adulthood; it is the amalgamation of doubt, confusion, issues and societal expectations at once. The Quaterlife Crisis can spark a variety of reactions ranging from subtle self-doubt to issues as serious as clinical depression.
The biggest difference between my label and the condescending new catchphrases is that I identified an experience, not a generation. The term ‘Quarterlife Crisis’ offers a category for those who wish to be reassured that their doubts are normal. Yong adults can choose whether or not to associate with it
…Some adults – usually those in a midlife crisis – roll their eyes when they hear ‘Quarterlife Crisis.’ ‘Twentysomethings can’t be in a crisis!’ they say. ‘When you have your youth and freedom, you have nothing to complain about.’
I try turnin the tables. ‘If that’s your reason for dismissing a Quarterlife Crisis,’ I reply, ‘then how can you complain about a midlife crisis when you have a spouse, a car, a savings account, and a backyard with a pool?’ They are not amused. The generation gap grows fierce.
Gail, like many women in their thirties, is happy now and more at peace with herself. Over the years, she has taught herself strategies and coping mechanisms to help her figure out who she is and who she wants to be. I believe her success in conquering these issues means that for her, middle age will be a breeze. Because we in Gail’s generation are confronting our identity demons in our twenties rather than waitin until our forties or fifties, I don’t think we’re going to have a midlife crisis. And then older doctors who dismissed our doubts will see who has the last laugh.”
– Alexandra Robbins (xiii – xvi)
By the way, I highly suggest reading the book. I’m starting to like it, and it’s making me feel less anxious about this thing called “my twenties” 🙂