By Jacqui Moroney
AFTER a recent update from a good friend ‘back home’, hubby commented that some of our de facto couple friends seem to be more married than us. They are putting down roots, buying houses, developing their careers, renovating on their weekends and saving for a perfect couch or polished floorboards. Slightly jealous of their grown up lives, it made me think about where we are and where we want to be when the time comes for us to settle.
But right now, the entire thought of settling down in one place for the rest of my life frightens me beyond reason. Is this just me?
Of course, I am happy to leave adolescence behind, and I like to think I am a sensible and responsible young woman. But I also believe being grown up is different to what it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago and even 20 years ago. Perhaps the norm doesn’t have to be to grow up, get married, buy a house and have kids?
TV sitcoms and numerous films feature comic stereotypes of adults acting like juveniles and still relying on their parents for financial and emotional support. In real life there are an increasing number of men and women in their late 20s, or even early 30s, still living at home with parents. There has been a cultural shift, but it doesn’t mean there is a loss of aspiration for independence or reluctance to grow up.
According to wikiHow’s How to Grow Up, the steps to follow to grow up include becoming financially independent, becoming emotionally independent, stop being selfish, stop being a doormat (unless you are selfish), realise life is not fair, take responsibility for yourself, and plan your future. While I don’t treat wiki-anything as gospel, it is interesting to note there is nothing there about buying a house and having kids.
For many people, buying a house is considered one of life’s greatest achievements and the most appealing aspect is the idea of putting down roots and taking ownership of a property you can live in as you please. What if you don’t want to ‘put down roots’? What if you would rather the greater flexibility and freedom renting offers? For me, buying a house would be more for the benefits of property investment or long term financial stability.
According to numerous studies, cognitive development, judgment, emotional maturity and hormonal activity continues into your early 20s. Child psychologists are increasing the age range of the children they work with from 0-18 to 0-24. Even the Obama administration implemented a rule in 2010 allowing “children” up to 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance.
Traditional milestones such as finishing education, graduating from college, establishing careers, living on your own, getting married and having children are taking longer to reach. Not because they are unachievable, but probably because the culture and values have changed. Rather than being a prerequisite to becoming an adult, marriage and rearing children are now life-style choices.
Our generation seems to enjoy busy lives and rushing from one thing to the next, but when it comes to life changing choices we are nervous about what we might miss out on as a consequence. So, instead, some of us #neverendinghoneymoon-ers on a #grownupgapyear spend our disposable incomes on travel, leisure activities and life changing experiences. We are financially and emotionally independent, we realise life is not fair, we take responsibility for ourselves and we plan our foreseeable future. We know growing old is mandatory, but ‘growing up’ is a choice.