But You're Still So Young
How Thirtysomethings Are Redefining Adulthood
- By: Kayleen Schaefer
From the author of Text Me When You Get Home, an investigation into what it means to be in your thirties, and to navigate some of the biggest milestones of adult life . . . and how it is more okay than ever to not have every box checked off
On Kayleen Schaefer’s birthday she went dancing with friends, they broke a table, and she turned thirty standing on the sidewalk outside a club she got kicked out of.
Sociologists have identified the five markers of adulthood as: finishing school, leaving home, marriage, gaining financial independence, and having kids. But the signifiers of being in our thirties today are not the same—repeated economic upheaval, rising debt, decreasing marriage rates, fertility treatments, and a more open-minded society have all led to a shifting timeline. Americans are taking major life steps later, switching careers with unprecedented frequency, and exercising increased freedom and creativity in their decisions about how to shape their lives. So why are we measuring "adulthood" by the same metrics that were relied upon fifty years ago?
BUT YOU'RE STILL SO YOUNG is cleverly structured around these five major life events. For each milestone, the book highlights men and women from various backgrounds, from around the country, and delves into their experiences navigating an ever-changing financial landscape and evolving societal expectations. The thirtysomethings in this book envisioned their thirties differently than how they are actually living them. He thought he would be done with his degree, she thought she’d be married, they thought they’d be famous comedians, and everyone thought they would have more money.
Kayleen uses her smart narrative framing, research skills, and relatable voice and her own story to show how the thirties have changed from the cultural stereotypes around them, and how they are a radically different experience for Americans now than it was for any other generation. And as she and her sources show, not being able to do everything isn’t a sign of a life gone wrong. Being open to going sideways or upside down or backward, means it has gone right: you found meaning and value in many different ways of living.
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