Have you ever heard the word "adulting"? It's this super overrated experience that we spend our awkward teenage years fantasizing about. All that independence, eating cookies for breakfast, going to bed at whatever time you want- yeah, it all seems amazing when you're still in high school.
However, no one tells you the part of adulthood that involves paying bills, stressing about everyday expenses, and all the mental breakdowns you'll have. There have been many times I have thought to myself (and maybe even said out loud) "Man, I wish I was a teenager again!" But then, I stop and remind myself of all those awkward hormonal changes, heartbreaks, and tears shed over what the mean girls said about me that week.
Sometimes, I still feel like I'm dealing with mean girls and crazy hormones, as many adults my age do. A recent research study found that the age of adolescence is from the age of 10 all the way to the age of 24.
Ah, it all makes sense.
The "The Age of Adolescence" was conducted by Professor Susan Sawyer came up with the hypothesis that adolescence begins at 10 and ends around the age of 24. She serves as the director of The Center for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia so she spends a good amount of time around young adults. She wrote the following regarding her hypothesis surrounding the age of adolescence, "Age definitions are always arbitrary [and] our current definition of adolescence is overly restricted". She also notes, "Adolescence encompasses elements of biological growth and major social role transitions, both of which have changed in the past century."
Think about it for a second. Life is entirely different than it was when the term adolescence was coined. So how can we assume that we grow and mature in the same way that we used to? Our lifestyle is pretty much solely responsible for how we develop and between the poor nutrition of this generation in addition to the difficulty we have accessing health care, there's no way we develop as humans used to. When you add social media and other kinds of technology in the mix, you have to take into consideration that opinions are everywhere and we are subjected to them daily. Whether it's a discussion regarding the appropriate age to get married or have children or when we should be financially independent, when subjected to these kinds of things, the way people behave tends to change over time.
Dr. Jan Macvarish, a sociologist who specializes in parenting at the University of Kent, suggests that the concept of adolescence should be disregarded completely. She stands firmly by the idea that this could lead to young adults being "infantized" and will ultimately be held back in life because of this. She explains further, "Older children and young people are shaped far more significantly by society's expectations of them than by their intrinsic biological growth,"
In today's society, there are a large number of teenagers who attend college rather than jumping straight into a career fresh out of high school. Typically, college students are still viewed as developing individuals who are in the "learning" phase of their lives whereas those who jump into a career or start a family are seen as "real" adults. Dr. Macvarish does not believe in these labels whatsoever.
She notes, "There is nothing inevitably infantilizing about spending your early 20s in higher education or experimenting in the world of work,". She goes on to explain further, "Society should maintain the highest possible expectations of the next generation."
So listen up all you 18-24-year-olds that may be reading this over with a slight amount of anxiety, it's all good. You're still an independent grown-up no matter what age or stage you're currently at in your life's journey.
However, if you feel compelled to build a blanket fort and start up a game of hide-and-seek with your closest friends, this study gives you the excuse to go for it.
Get your kid on.