Are You An Adult? According To A New Survey, There Are Certain Qualifications Needed To Claim the Title
What does it mean to be an adult? Well according to a new survey on the marks of adulthood, society's understanding of the term isn't changing as much as you'd think. And it turns out that not only are most of the agreed-upon milestones economic ones, but they're pretty lofty economic goals as well. Which might be why everyone thinks Millennials are immature and not "real adults." Isn't the recession grand?
In the latest Heartland Monitor Poll conducted by Allstate and the National Journal, participants were asked when people can say that they're now adults and no longer just "starting out" in life in regards to several areas. For careers, the most common response among both people under the age of 30 and those 30 or older (50 and 44 percent respectively) was that you can count yourself as an adult once you have “a job that is part of a long-term career.” Only about one fifth believed that it happens once you start working full time.
And the lofty goals don't stop there. When it comes to educational markers of adulthood, more people both young and old pick "paying off your student loans" instead of graduating from high school or college. Regarding personal finances, the most common response is "having a disposable income and long-term savings plan" rather than simple financial independence. With housing, adulthood means owning your own home instead of just living independently. And in your personal life, more people considered adulthood to begin when you get married than at any point before.
So what does all this mean? Basically that Millennials are never going to be adults — or at least, not for a good long while. I mean, look at the economic and social climate right now. We're living in an economy that not only is still sluggish, but is increasingly dominated by freelance jobs —so, "job that is part of a long term career"? Like, what even is that? Also, "paying off your student loans"? Have you seen the average size of student loan debt lately? As far as "disposable income" goes, I will refer you back to the freelance economy thing. It's hard to have a disposable income when you don't have benefits. And owning your own home? Really?
The marriage thing, on the other hand, might be our own fault — though it's not like anyone is really doing anything to make it easier for Millennials to settle down, either. Essentially, Millennials as a whole aren't going to be adults for a long time, it looks like.
Of course, if we changed our definitions of adulthood to be less focused on economic-based milestones or more conservative social models, that might change. What if, instead of deciding that people aren't adults until they achieve some sort of middle-class, suburban domesticity, we decided that if you're financially independent, living on your own, making your own major life decisions, and generally mature and responsible enough to not mess it up too badly, you're an adult? Because all the other stuff? I'll be honest, fellow Millennials: I don't know when that's going to happen for us.