Young Adulthood in 2013

Today’s twentysomethings are confronted with challenges that are very different than those many of us in previous generations faced. Researcher and therapist Meg Jay puts it like this:

“The Great Recession and its continuing aftermath have left many twentysomethings feeling naïve, even devastated. Twentysomethings are more educated than ever before, but a smaller percentage find work after college…..An unpaid internship is the new started job. About a quarter of twentysomethings are out of work and another quarter work only part-time. Twentysomethings who do have paying jobs earn less than their 1970s counterparts when adjusted for inflation…About one in eight go back home to live with Mom or Dad, at least in part because salaries are down and college debt is up, with the number of students owing more than $40,000 having increased tenfold in the past ten years.” (p. xiv-xx).

In my work I see twentysomethings weep over the burden of their student loans and agonize about their lingering financial dependence on their parents. And Meg Jay, in her book, The Defining Decade, suggests that many twentysomethings are uniquely ill-equipped to deal with these challenges. The people who are young adults today grew up in the self-esteem movement. They were kids during a time when every kid got a trophy whether they won or lost and when kids were told that they could succeed at anything if they put their minds to it. Our twentysomethings are pulling up short, seeing that they actually can’t do what they put their minds to doing, and many of them don’t know how to cope.

You twenty something readers, do you see some of these trends and difficulties in your life or the lives of your peers? The work, both emotionally and professionally, to establish a meaningful life is intense. Finding the inner resources to face the challenge can be daunting and I see the wrestling week after week with my clients. I’m hoping that many, many people will listen to Meg Jay’s Ted Talk and read her book.

For my review of Meg Jay’s book, click here

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