Ahh, to be young. We are, still.
According to many, we sure do act like it. We Gen-Ys or Millennials have been quietly coined the “Peter Pan Generation” because of our almost universal aptness to perform traditional “rite of passage” events later in life, taking more time to finish school, working for less money for a longer time, even opting to live at home later than we (or our parents) might have planned. This, for many, begs the question, will we ever grow up? And we are not the only ones wondering. New York Times Magazine devoted a 10-page spread to this topic in its August 2010 issue, and tried to answer this pressing question: “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” The article dabbled in the term “emerging adulthood,” and wondered if delaying traditional coming-of-age milestones offered opportunities for further self-discovery, or if it actually fostered self-indulgence. Won’t we ever move on, move out, move up? Hence, Peter Pan.
This where it gets confusing. If I am not mistaken, Peter Pan’s yearning to remain in childhood had more to do with his fear of growth than with his love of being young, right? This is quite the opposite with most of us twenty-something’s.
Instead, could it be that we are fixated on doing everything right the first time around? More than three times the size of the generation that preceded, we are an age group having been pressured to find the best jobs in the midst of history’s most devastating recession. We want to get married, but not divorced, smart but not while accruing debt, happy but not too comfortable, and on and on. Perhaps out of respect for those who provided us with tools to grow, perhaps as a promise to our generational legacy, perhaps as an homage to our childhood selves, we want to step out into the grown-up world feeling at least somewhat confident, happy and at peace. We aren’t afraid of what the future holds; we are intent on making our future everything we dreamed it would be.
So while the “experts” call us Peter Pan, we can smile. Because despite the above-mentioned efforts, the truth is, we will make mistakes. We might not get everything we had planned for, and when that happens, we’ll know where to go.
Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.