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Young Adulthood Development

Essay by   •  February 15, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,251 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,735 Views

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Taylor Sweat

PSYC 522-J01

Dr. Kirasic

05 February 2016

Midterm Paper

        Young adulthood is defined as the stage between adolescence and middle adulthood, more specifically the ages of about 20-40. People sometimes refer to young adults as “emerging adults” within the “in-between age” (Munsey, 2006). Many adults share the sensation of “feeling in-between,” knowing they were “pulling clear of the struggles of adolescence and starting to feel responsible for themselves, but still closely tied to their parents and family” (Munsey, 2006). 

        In 1995, psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, PhD, researched the topic of young adulthood, gathering data from 300 people going through this life stage concerning their thoughts, actions, and feelings. He described emerging adulthood as the “time from the end of adolescence to the young-adult responsibilities of a stable job, marriage and parenthood” (Munsey, 2006). Overall, he found five major characteristics of emerging adults, or those in-between adolescence and middle adulthood. He stated that emerging adulthood can be defined as an “age of identity exploration,” where people are trying to figure out the kind of person they are and what kinds of things they want out of life; “age of instability,” which is clear with many changes of residency (moving from home to college to living alone or with a lover); “age of self-focus,” where young ones attempt to decide what they want to do with their lives and who exactly they want to spend their lives with; “age of feeling in between,” where many say they are taking responsibility for their actions but still do not feel like an adult; and “age of possibilities,” where “optimism reigns,” meaning these young adults feel that they will live bigger and better than their parents ever did (Munsey, 2006).

        The results of his research show that young adults really expect a lot out of life, which can sometime pose as a problem. The more you expect out of life, the more disappointed you are susceptible to be when things do not go your way. Many people expect the great job that they truly enjoy and a loving partner to spend the rest of their lives with; however, many employers just want someone who can get the job done and half of all marriages end in divorce. We, as a generation of young adults, are setting ourselves up for failure if we think we can have it all.

        Young adulthood is a special time in one’s life: graduating from high school, being admitted into the college of your choice, making new friends, finding a soulmate, etc. There are endless positives that go along with this new stage of life. Both internal and external changes are experienced during this stage, as well. Internal changes being personal to the individual (plans, goals, dreams, etc.); external changes being accomplishments measured by friends and family. Examples of internal changes include hopes and dreams for the future and plans after college including career and family plans. These changes are just as important as the external changes because they are personal to each individual. We are surrounded by so many expectations that have little to do with who we really are. These expectations fall under the external changes. These expectations are not designed to determine who we really are, but rather to fit us into little categories based on how well we accomplish certain goals and how much we end up with at the end of our lives.

        Culture is critical to understanding young adulthood. Culture can be defined as “a way of thinking, behaving, or working” having to do with a “particular society or group” (Merriam-Webster.com, 2016). Our generation is considered the generation of change. Our culture is so different than the culture of young adults twenty years ago. This day in age, everyone uses technology to communicate and find resources. Social media is probably the biggest clue into the lives of the younger generation, with it almost defining who we are. Everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and the list goes on and on. Technology and social media are all consuming for this generation, and it may not always be such a positive thing.

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