Dr. Ryan, a professor here at Fuller, recently pointed out the fact that in the last hundred years the average lifespan has doubled. That means that new life stages that previously never existed have been created and others have been stretched out. One of these life stages that has been the subject of much debate, confusion, and discussion has been adolescence, a time including and after puberty where you are figuring yourself out as an adult.
I have heard it stated elsewhere that our grandparent’s generation went through puberty at 13, our parents generation went through it from the ages of 13-18, and now it can stretch anywhere form 13-the mid twenties. My peers and I are taking longer to figure things out, but the expectations on us have not changed. I personally have felt intense pressure to figure life out, to fully understand myself and be an established adult member of society (in other words to have a career and family) starting about five years ago. Some of my peers seem to have achieved this, and done so years ago, yet at twenty six I feel I have failed and am failing to meet these expectations. I am still coming to terms with myself, I do not have a career and I am not married. As a man in particular I am subject to challenges to “not waste my life” to “be a man” (i.e get a job, settle down, buy a house) and am portrayed as irresponsible, lazy, or immature for having not done what other generations did much earlier. The fact that youths graduating from college often end up back home are bemoaned and males, such as myself, who do not have everything settled are referred to as “man-children.” Many of these shaming messages have come from Church pulpits.
The most encouraging word I have heard for myself, and I would hope others who are in the same situation as me, came from an unexpected source. Recently I stumbled across an interview with Maxwell, a popular singer who an unexpected seven year absence from the music industry after having a break-out Freshman album. I have attached the video of the interview.
In explaining the reasons for his seven year hiatus he described how as a musician he needed to be inspired by life, and he simply needed to live more life.
Then he dropped this line:”In your 20’s your just like a sketch of what you think you’re trying to be.”
To me this was a profound statement and a encouragement that while others may have at least appeared to have life sorted out, it is okay for me to be healing from my past, figuring out who I am going to be, and growing in the life experience that will shape who I am and inspire me.