What my thought process tends to look like these days ==>
Emerging Adulthood: Or, I’m a big boy now.
The story goes something like this: Sociologists have historically classified people as adults once they had reached five milestones: financial independence, owning your own crib, poppin’ out a couple lil’ shit machines, etc. However, recently the trend is starting to get a little skewed, and we (this generation) are taking longer than usual to reach the milestones.
The debate among the big boys is “why”? However, this isn’t the question that concerns us. The big question is what do these extra years entail? Obviously if people are getting married later, settling down later, they are doing something in those “earlier” years, and that is…. drunken orgies to Dionysus!
Jeffrey Arnett is one of the big proponents of the Emerging Adulthood theory, and the word that always seems to come up when he talks about it is this: Ambivalence. That underlying “WTF” feeling about everything and anything. The totally lost, floating in the clouds, wanna move to China kind of feeling. That’s important. Because it implies you are mixed and are being torn in multiple directions.
“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is one of the most important times to do something. Anything. In fact, I would say that this is one of the only times where complacency kills. Later in life you won’t have the option of being complacent. The best possible thing you can do for yourself now? Make a flowchart of your of-the-moment dreams.
Seriously. And the only rule here is this: you have to follow through with concrete steps, including making the first step today, and you have to really crystallize your purpose. Hone in on exactly what you want to be doing, if you could do anything at this very moment. If you woke up with a huge blue Genie in your room, what would you ask him for? Try to think of things that really mean something to you, and not just extra money or wishes.
In order to have a life that (you perceive) is worth living, there usually needs to be some sort of underlying value, goal, direction, passion, hope, aspiration, etc. This should be the one facet of your life where no doubt can find itself, no matter how far away the dream may be. Nearly everyone human being on earth has had some sort of dream, or intrigue, or curiosity with something that has been creeping into the back of their mind. Go for it.
The Bottom Line
This period of “emerging adulthood” is not only the perfect time to try anything (shark diving, bungee jumping, sailing around the world, eating scorpions, moving to china, opening your own business) and everything, to me it seems more than specifically designed for this.
This “sense of possibilities” as it is described in the NYTimes article probably best encapsulates what’s going on — it’s not just the “feeling” of possibility, but the reality that the possibilities actually are endless. That’s why I think it’s such a shame for people my age to immediately settle down into location-dependent jobs, or immediately jump into graduate school. They will always be there.
Read more about the original NYTimes article here.
One last thing.
Don’t listen to that crap about missing out on immediately jumping into work, which is (remember?) conventional bullshit. Sorry, wisdom. College ==> Work. Unless you have already honed in on your purpose in life or you’ve been really hooked up with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this time period should be filled with trying everything imaginable – including work and play.