Have you ever been knee deep in a difficult situation and been looking around for an adult to fix the situation? Only to realize that it's you that's the adult and you better figure it out? Yeah, we've all been there. Being an adult is really hard, and there isn't a handbook on how to do it. Really, pretty much everyone is winging it, which should bring us a little comfort. And now, there is new research that backs up our feelings. It claims that you aren't mentally an "adult" until you're in your 30s. And that does explain a lot.
“What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd,” Professor Peter Jones, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge explains via the Independent.
Feeling like an adult isn't just something that happens one day. And it's definitely not like one of those movies from back in the day where the tween wakes up in the adult's body either. We are very much adults trapped in our own bodies (and usually we want to trade in those bodies.) It's rare to see someone wake up one day and proclaim, "TODAY I AM AN ADULT." When you think you have a handle on it, life just goes on.
Realizing you're truly an adult isn't really anything worth celebrating. You don't get a party when you pay the mortgage on time or get the kids to put their shoes on the first time. And everyone has their own version of what "being an adult" is. Professor Jones acknowledges that becoming an adult isn't something that happens in one moment, but over three decades on brain development.
"There isn't a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they're on a trajectory," he explained to the BBC.
That's why your 20s feel like such a roller coaster. You're literally figuring out how to survive on your own. But your brain is still developing, so there's no way to truly have a handle on what's actually happening. Even in your early 30s, you're usually still trying to figure life out. Now, it makes sense why so often we feel like we don't have a clue of how to make life happen the way we want it to.
This development is why it's not fair to hold 18-year-olds up as adults. They literally know nothing, and their brains have at least another 10 years to develop before they do. Hopefully, this research becomes more widespread, and we can begin to change the conversation around what it means to be an "adult."