For more and more 20-somethings, and many 30-somethings, the road to becoming a legitimate grown-up is an increasingly long one. Why is this happening? And is it normal? Twenty Something talks to Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, authors of “The Hookup Handbook” and “Friend or Frenemy?” about this growing phenomenon.
Twenty Something: Do you think the fact that Twenty Something’s are taking so long to get their feet on the ground is going to hurt or help our generation and the generations to come?
Andrea Lavinthal: I think the next generation is going to be even more screwed up then we are. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, everyone wants to be famous and listened to and watched. Instant gratification is the norm. It’s seeped into our generation a little bit but the next generation is going to be even more entitled, selfish, and self-centered.
Jessica Rozler: It’s going to make it harder for them. A lot of the people we talked to for our upcoming book ‘Your So Called Life’ felt like their lives weren’t balanced. You have to make sacrifices. We can’t all have the amazing career and a big family to the max. Something has to give. If you have this amazing yacht but no one to be on the yacht with, then is the yacht worth it? We have to decide for ourselves what success is. That’s going to be the key to surviving our twenties and thirties.
TS: Are economic changes the only reason Twenty Somethings are taking so long to grow up or are there other reasons?
AL: Economics plays a huge role. But today, the average college educated Twenty Something has such a buffet of choices that it becomes paralyzing. So now that we can literally be anything we want to be, what DO we want to be? And this idea of living our lives publicly has kind of caused us to compete with our peers. It’s like ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ except the Joneses just happen to be the same friends you grew up with or went to college with. Now they’re like: here’s my baby. He walks and speaks Japanese. Oh and I just got my PhD in Neuroscience. What about you?
JR: I think our parents felt the same way–they just didn’t talk about it. It was just what you did. You don’t talk about it. That’s how it was. But today we talk about everything and we update our twitter and Facebook.
TS: Why is there so much pressure to be successful today at such a young age?
AL: For so long we were encouraged to be “happy” which is great but what if you don’t know what makes you happy? That, in my opinion is where the ‘thrisis’ comes into play. It’s like a buffet– they say take your time but eventually you have to figure out what you want. How come you’re not married? Why don’t you have children? All of a sudden you’re running out of time.
JR: This expectation to have everything is pretty self-centered. There’s so much pressure to be happy and have it all and you have to do it perfectly. In the book we kind of give you a kick in the butt. We tell you to get over yourself.
TS: What is a ‘thrisis’?
AL: It’s not a quarter life crises. It’s when you feel like time is running out and you want to know what’s going on around your thirtieth birthday. The worst part is watching your peers succeed and you want to know when you will too.
JR: Social networking is part of what drives the thrisis. The idea of privacy is changing. For us to see what other people are doing makes us feel like we have to do it too. We panic when we realize we aren’t on the same level as our peers.
TS: What can a jobless, debt-ridden Twenty Something hold onto right now?
AL: You can get a job on twitter today. There are so many resources and ways to be creative.
JR: We have plenty of time. Whatever situation you’re in right now is going to change. You have choices and you have time. You have to help yourself.
TS: What are some rules to living our best life during this confusing time?
AL: My new rule– don’t compare my life based on people’s Facebook profiles. I have to remember to be realistic about what people are posting on social media outlets. It’s not the whole picture. So there’s no reason to compare myself and feel bad that it’s not happening to me. And set small goals—like save $500, instead of land a six figure job– so you can feel successful.
JR: Learning how to set boundaries is so important. Take back some of your free time and get some balance. Nowadays we have less and less of that. At the end of your life you’re not going to wish you worked more. Learn to say to no to what you don’t want and yes to what you do want.
Ursula Lauriston is the author of Twenty Something, a social diary blog where she sounds off weekly on dating, D.C nightlife and events, career etiquette, and more. During the day, Ursula stays in step with the pulse of DC with her work as a Deputy Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. Follow her on twitter @urdiggy.