A Melbourne-based study conducted in the style of the British Seven Up TV documentaries has found that a very select group of twenty-one year olds no longer believe that reaching that landmark birthday is a sign of maturity, and instead 30 is now commonly regarded as the new indicator of adulthood.
The study surveyed 140 subjects, all born within two Melbourne suburbs in 1990 and found that only 38% said that they believed they had reached (developed? Attained?) maturity as adults by the age of 21. Funnily enough, 13% were adamant that they had not yet reached adulthood and a majority of 49% responded with an ambivalent “meh. Maybe? I don’t care. I’ll do whatever you want to do.”
Within the same controlled group, 72% were still living at home, 60% had gone on to tertiary education, 27% were working full time and 13% were parents. The consensus reached from the survey seems to be that the once traditional hallmarks of adulthood (completing higher education, moving out, marriage and mortgages) are being put off until later and later, prolonged by the prospect of multiple career paths, time spent studying both here and abroad and travelling taking priority.
So what does this leave us with? A generation of ambivalent ‘kidadults’ more concerned with ‘partying’ and deferring responsibility – procrastinating at large, if you will? I think that’s maybe what this survey and news.com.au – where the results were published – would have you believe, but the result is probably something closer to ‘uh, not really.’
That’s a pretty small pool from which they’re drawing (140 kids from two suburbs doesn’t really leave much room for a large socio-economic spread), but I do think it’s pretty telling that when it comes to choosing whether or not the participants saw themselves as mature adults, most of them couldn’t decide strongly either way. Thankfully, I think we can apportion some of that blame – because that’s what we do – to a culture of indifference propagated by indecisive role models like Carly Rae Jepsen (why not ‘Call Me, Definitely‘ Carly Rae?). Just kidding.
I think this video is a pretty good indication of the way our generation is heading – or at least where it’s at – as realised by Ezra Koenig (of Vampire Weekend’s) 24 year old sister, Emma, who does for Tumblr what Lena Dunham does for film and television. In her recent profile in The New York Times, psychologist Meg Jay was quoted as saying that “If depression was the hallmark of the Gen-Xers, anxiety belongs to the Millennials.”
That’s something I would definitely vote in favour of – but what do I know? I’m just a Millenial – maybe? I think? Now I’m really anxious.