Hey. My name is Rachal, and I’m a Millennial fresh out of college and trying to tread water as a “real adult.” If any of the phrases in that last sentence made you roll your eyes, you’re probably in the right place. Disclaimer: Everything I said is true. But that doesn’t mean terms like “Millennial,” “fresh out of college,” and “real adult” shouldn’t bother you. They bother the heck out of me.
“Millennial” can be used to describe the generation born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s or even 2000. So at its broadest, a Millennial could be born anytime between 1980 and 2000, which would make the group members range from 17 to 38. Even setting aside what a massive age range that is, the time between ages 17 and 38 holds an insane number of major life changes for most people living in the U.S.* A 17-year-old might be finishing up high school, while many people in their late 30s are married with kids and a mortgage. But very few people talk about Millennials that way. Most often, we are talked about (including sometimes by ourselves) as young adults in college and/or starting out in the workforce otherwise trying our hand at adulting. The fancy academic term for this phase of life is “emerging adulthood.” Though not a perfect term, it’s more specific than Millennial and will still apply to this interesting life phase even after Millennials become retirees. For those reasons, I’ll use the term emerging adults rather than Millennials unless I really do mean the generation — it provides some distance from harmful stereotypes anyways.
“Fresh out of college” tends to feel like the “WTF?” stage of life for a lot of emerging adults. For those that attend college, just after is often the first time all of one’s peers are reaching major milestones at wildly different paces. So-and-so just got married. So-and-so scored a high-paying job in their field. Oh yeah, and I live with my parents and can’t even get hired at the local grocery store. Every path presents its own challenges advantages, but nearly all of them come with thoughts and feelings along the lines of “Welp, this is actually happening.”
“Real adult” implies that any years spent from 18 to now (or before then for some folks’ circumstances) are invalid. And that sucks. If you are 17 and living independently, 21 and in college, or 24 and working part-time, you are every bit the adult that the married person with 3 kids, a 90k salary, and a mortgage is. You’re just newer at it. That does mean those of us who are still trying to level up have a fair amount to learn, but we’re still players in the same game. Wherever you’re at is valid — even though there’s progress to be made, even when you don’t feel like a grownup or a “real adult.” (Confession: Most days I don’t. Which is reason number one why I started this blog.)
So let’s rewrite that earlier sentence. My name is Rachal, and I’m an emerging adult who recently finished college and is learning to navigate this phase of adult life. Bulky, but a much kinder and more accurate representation of where I’m at, and where a lot of people are at or near.
If you’re feeling half as lost as I am, or are just really bored, read on. I’ll be adding new content all the time, including:
- lessons I’ve learned so you don’t have to do it the hard way
- accumulated tips and tricks for adulting
- recipes and other practical resources
- pep talks
- (useful) observations about emerging adulthood
- and more?
*I by no means want to overlook those who don’t live in the U.S., but that is the limit of my long-term experience, and overgeneralizing would be even worse.