It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“The 20s are like the stem cell of human development, the pluripotent moment when any of several outcomes is possible. … The 20s are when most people accumulate almost all of their formal education; when most people meet their future spouses and the friends they will keep; when most people start on the careers that they will stay with for many years. This is when adventures, experiments, travels, relationships are embarked on with an abandon that probably will not happen again.” (“What Is It About 20-Somethings?” New York Times Magazine, 8/22/2010)
I am 28. The tail end of the 20-somethings, but I’ll still have the label for another two years thankyouverymuch. And I must say, I thought this cover story about “emerging adulthood” was spot on.
My highlighter couldn’t keep up with all the interesting tidbits.
“One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married.”
“During the period he calls emerging adulthood, [psychology professor Jeffrey] Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background.”
If emerging adulthood is about “identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and…a sense of possibilities,” then maybe this local BFF search is my manifestation of that. It was born of that in-between feeling, after all. Wanting childlike friendships in an adult life. And this is certainly the most identity exploration I’ve ever pursued—it’s amazing how much I’m learning about myself in a quest primarily focused on other people.
And the sense of possibilities? If I’m on the search, I must believe I can find The One.
Is looking for a BFF my way of eschewing adulthood?
I would argue it’s my way of holding on to childhood, but also my attempt at trying to create the life I hope to have as an adult. I’m not so much rejecting the growing up process, I’m simply trying to control it.
The quote at the top of this post says that the 20s are when most people meet the friends they will keep. I may be unusual, but I met almost all my closest friends in the 10-19 decade. Friends from camp, high school, even my college friends I met freshman year. That’s when I met my husband too. But even if, at the end of this search, I don’t have a new and local BFF, I’m confident I’ll have Friends. Capital F. Ones who will live close enough that our friendships can continue to evolve.
Maybe one day I’ll grow up and think about my 20s and tell my daughter “My 20s were when I found X and Y and Z. In fact, I went looking for them.”
If you’re in your 20s, do you see yourself in the description of “emerging adults”? If your 20s are behind you, would you say they were the formative years of your adult life? The stem cells of your human development? And did you meet the Friends you have today back then?