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Emerging Adulthood: What is That?!

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

If you aren't familiar with the term emerging adulthood, it's a concept that was proposed by psychologist, Jeffrey Arnett, after conducting research on emerging adults. He suggests that there is a stage of development between adolescence and adulthood. I encourage you to go and look at some of his research findings on emerging adulthood for yourself---it's quite interesting! You can find more information on the "Resources" page, under "Emerging Adulthood".




Emerging adulthood is pretty much a period of development that occurs in the late teens through the late twenties; so about age eight-teen to twenty-nine. The transition to adulthood often happens during this stage, but emerging adulthood should not be considered a transition itself, according to Jeffrey Arnett --it should be a stage of its own.


It can take some individuals a longer than desired time to successfully reach adulthood. Seventy plus years ago, it was common for high school students to graduate and immediately find work in a place such as a local factory; factory labor was really needed then, so it makes sense. Furthermore, having a secure job made it easier to start a family early on in life, so it wasn't uncommon to see nineteen and twenty-year-olds married with children. Today, many young people are enrolling into college or trade school upon graduating high school as they chase their dream jobs, which can take years to achieve. In addition, many are waiting to start a family until they are financially stable and truly ready for those major commitments.



So with prolonged job attainment, many emerging adults rely on their parents or family members for support until they can support themselves, ultimately causing the road to adulthood to be stretched longer. That being said, if your parents or family members are supporting you financially until you finish school or get a job, don't negatively take advantage of it--be appreciative and respectful. Use this time to gain the tools and skills that are needed to be successful in adulthood; really put in the effort to achieve financial independence.



So what are some things that you may experience in emerging adulthood? Well, you may undergo an identity search to discover who you are and what you want out of life. Healthy identity exploration is good for you; you can learn quite a bit about yourself in that process. You may also have a period of instability where you go back and forth between jobs, romantic relationships, and living arrangements. It's possible to find yourself in a period of self-focus where you’re spending time learning about how the world works and what methods/tactics work best for your lifestyle. You may even experience feeling like an adult, but still not feeling completely grown up. Feeling really optimistic about your future and having high expectations for yourself is also common in this stage of development----in fact, everything mentioned above is pretty normal for emerging adults. So I hope that this can give you a little relief if you're having a hard time dealing with the transition. And remember, emerging adulthood is only temporary.




So that's a brief explanation of emerging adulthood. Interested in learning more information and tips on how to be successful during this stage of your life? When enrollment opens, take the course, "Emerging Adulthood 101" (it's free!); just click on the "Courses" tab of our homepage and you'll be directed to the right place. Also, check out Rising Adults Academy's other life skills courses while you're there! If you're looking to connect with other emerging adults, please join our Facebook group, "Rising Adults"!


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