Emerging adulthood is the most transformative period in one’s life as it focuses on discovery and relationship building. This period begins when a person reaches his or her 20s and lasts to the ages 25-28. According to Jay (2013), 80 percent of the most defining decisions take place before 35. The characteristic features of emerging adults are identity exploration, feeling in between, and mobility. They tend to move from place to place, change their occupation, and engage in different relationships to better understand themselves. This period also involves an optimum of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development, while the formation of cultural and spiritual norms happens as well. Setting aside faith is another distinctive feature of emerging adulthood since young adults prefer total freedom.
If in the 20th century an adult life distinctly began with entering a college, marrying, and coming to church, emerging adulthood is a new trend of the 21st century. According to Erikson, this period refers to stage 6 (intimacy vs. isolation), which implies that young adults explore relationships, loneliness, and isolation. Their main task is to develop close and committed relationships with others to provide and receive care and safety. Considering economic fluctuations, the revolution in the family institution, and the spread of education, it takes longer for emerging adults to prepare themselves (Arnett, 2015). Even though it is not their fault, emerging adults have to adjust to a new reality.
Financial difficulties, the inability to communicate effectively and build close relationships, misunderstanding with parents, and frequent change of jobs are the concerns of emerging adults. Setran (2016) suggests that the major concern of emerging adulthood is procrastination since they often just “kill time” in relationships that are not likely to end in marriage or consider that they would pay more attention to career after their 30s. The truth is that people become less active and passionate about changes after their transition to adulthood, which means that the greatest time to find and use opportunities is now. Parents, psychologists, and counselors should be ready to help emerging adults by encouraging them to actively explore their identities and the world around.
The presentation by Jay (2013) is the most appealing and contains the best advice that I would give to myself in the past. Jay (2013) states that the emerging adulthood is the best time to ask oneself about his or her life options and body. This clinical psychologist adds that it is important to gather identity capital instead of thinking about identity crisis, which means doing something valuable to invest in personal future. For example, discover career opportunities, engage in a start-up, or work on relationships and family creation more consciously and intentionally (Jay, 2012). Indeed, mindful choices are especially critical for emerging adulthood as this period significantly defines who a person would be for the rest of his or her life. The least helpful advice is given by Arnett (2015), who speaks about the importance of not rushing into adulthood and enjoying the moment, without clarifying any special steps or goals to pursue.
Arnett, J. J. (2015). Why does it take so long to grow up today? [Video]. Web.
Jay, M. (2012). The defining decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now. Hachette Book Group.
Jay, M. (2013). Why 30 is not the new 20 [Video]. TED. Web.
Setran, D. (2016). Wisdom for emerging adults [Video]. Web.