Cindy Gullo, LCPC - Therapist & Counselor
The Blog

What Is Emerging Adulthood?

For most young people, the ages eighteen to thirty are a period of constant transition from the dependency of adolescence to responsibilities and freedom of young adulthood. A significant minority of people, however, don’t go through this transition during the expected period of time.

Emerging Adults Around Table

We might treat them as adults legally, but there will be various life tasks that people are expected to do they might not have accomplished. These include starting a career, developing an individual identity and learning skills required to live an independent life. However, not every young adult or adult manages to successfully reach each milestone on time.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D. is the man behind the discovery of Emerging Adulthood. According to him, most people in their twenties living in Westernized cultures go through a vague “waiting period” during their transition from adolescence to an adult.

The Five Facets of Emerging Adulthood

There are five different characteristics which distinguish emerging adulthood from all the other stages. These are as follows:

  1. The age of identity exploration;
  2. The age of instability;
  3. The self-focused age;
  4. The age of feeling in-between;
  5. The age of possibilities.

1.The Age of Identity Explorations

The age of identity exploration is probably the most idiosyncratic characteristic of emerging adulthood. This is an age where people explore all the numerous possibilities in different walks of life. They make a lot of different choices related to a lot of different life issues. By trying out all the different possibilities available to them, young adults develop a definite identity.

They develop a deep understanding of who they are as people and what their skills and boundaries are. They also get a clearer idea of their principles and values. They learn to fit into the society they’re living in.

2.The Age of Instability

This exploration of emerging adulthood makes it the age of instability as well. When young people explore the numerous possibilities available to them, their life often becomes very unstable. Frequently moving and changing their jobs is one of the characteristics of the age of instability. In the US, the rate of residence changes is comparatively higher between the ages nineteen to twenty-nine than in any other period of life.

3.The Self-Focused Age

Emerging adulthood is a self-focused age because most young adults move out to live their lives on their own accord. Even in societies where they live in their parents’ home during their early twenties, young people establish an independent lifestyle. This is a time where they rely less on their parents and focus more on themselves by developing a long-term commitment to their career and love life. They learn to make important decisions about their life during this phase.

4.The Age of Feeling in-Between

Another idiosyncratic feature of emerging adulthood can be feeling “in between.” You’re not an adult yet, but you are not a child either. In some aspects of life, you might be behaving like an adult, but in others, you might still need help from others. It is not until people reach their late twenties that they get a clear idea of what they want from life. This transitional period is one of the most noteworthy in emerging adulthood. It is during this period that you either make the correct choices or the wrong ones.

5.The Age of Possibilities

Finally, emerging adulthood can be regarded as the age of possibilities. It is during this period of time where numerous different futures are possible for young people. There are a lot of different directions they can take in their lives. It is an age where their hopes are high and expectations even higher. However, most of these young adults have not been tested in the fires of real life.

Emerging Adulthood can be scary for most people. Navigating the harsh waters of the real world alone can be very stressful and confusing. However, it is important to remember that there are a lot of young people out there going through the same situation as you. Making the correct choices can and does lead you to a bright future!

If you’re struggling in emerging adulthood, call me to schedule an appointment today.