No doubt if you’re between the ages of 19 and 29, you read this week’s New York Times article, What Is It About 20-Somethings? It garnered tons of attention and sparked reaction pieces all over the web. Take the Salon piece, rather pompously titled: I became an adult at 22: Why can’t you?
Patronising, yes. But you know what? I think much the same thing. (Except perhaps change 22 for 17 or 18). I wouldn’t say I look down on my friends who still live at home, but I’m certainly inclined to smile patronisingly inside my head and think “oh, how little they know. Join the real world”. I’ve been doing it for years, and quite frankly, I don’t see an end in sight. After all, if you’ve got it (fairly) sweet at home, why wouldn’t you stay there as long as possible?
And if there are cultural expectations thrown into the mix, all the more reason to stay put. Some of my Chinese friends have expressed amazement that I live on my own. But the understanding was always that I’d go flatting after high school. (And while that ended up happening much earlier, I have no doubt that that’s how it would’ve turned out. It might not have been easy for the parents to cut me loose, but they would have done so nonetheless.)
And yet, do I really qualify as a grownup? I pay my bills on time, file my bank statements, put out the rubbish, clean the oven, eat regular meals, do laundry, buy groceries. I do it all, but it’s still bloody hard work.
Take Saturday. I got off work at 8, caught up with friends over dessert, then got home after 10 and had no energy for cooking. Dinner that night basically consisted of New York baked cheesecake (SO good), a little couscous with even less chicken, and a hunk of steak.
I don’t think I’ll get to lord it as the worldly one much longer, though. One of my dear friends recently got engaged (the first of us to do so). She still lives at home with her family. She’s finishing up her degree. But while I don’t doubt her love and commitment to her fiancee, and know they have very practical reasons to be getting hitched so soon, I still think she’s rushing it a little.
I think this gem – uttered by another mutual friend – sums it up better than I ever could:
Sometimes couples go and get married. That doesn’t make them grownup.
Some couples are grownup, but they’re not married.
And don’t even get me started on the whole event planning thing. Nothing sounds worse to me than having to organise the engagement party, the wedding, the reception, etc. I can already see how much work it’s going to be…and I don’t envy her.