Why 30 is not the New 20
The lifelong approaches studied in (Boyd & Bee, 2014) determined several stages of human development from conception to death. One of those stages, that is considered to be the most critical stage in life of an individual is the early adulthood. Early adulthood is associated with developmental shifts involving drastic changes in individual life, demanding a lot of individual decisions than any other period in life. It is during this period that important decisions regarding job, marriage, lifestyle and children, are made. According to (Glover, 2010) early adulthood offers an opportunity where individuals can construct their adulthood dream, which according to the author, is critical in guiding their decisions. The paper will examine developmental tasks accomplished during the transitional stage of early adulthood.
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Many theories focusing on development tasks in study of human development have been developed. The first theory to explain the concept of developmental tasks was developed by Robert J. Havighurst in his theory of human development (Erford, 2016). Havighurst regarded development tasks as a combination of problems and life adjustments that must be met by an individual (p. 75). When an individual develops successful means of accomplishing these problems and life adjustments, then they will have a happy and successful accomplishment of their future tasks. In the contrary, unsuccessful accomplishment of the problems and life adjustments leads to unhappy and unsuccessful accomplishment of future tasks. In my early adulthood, there were many personal development tasks and conflicts, which I faced.
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I was raised by my father after my parents separated when I was 3 years old and I had to put up being brought up without my mother. However, I received great care and love from my father and this allowed me to have good education and a successful career. When I reached my early adulthood, I realized it was time to have my own life. I needed to have a partner, I was going to leave home and have children. In addition, I was going to raise children, establish my career and take on a civic responsibility. However, in order to meet these development tasks and conflicts it was imperative to develop appropriate life structures.
Levinson in his work suggested a theory on human development that focused on life structures (Aktu & Ilhan, 2017). He asserted that each stage of an adult possess work environment, social and psychological characteristics that are unique to an individual. The first life structure that was developed to meet the tasks and conflicts was my identity. Boyd & Bee (2014) defines identity as the development of a sense of comfort with one self, having awareness and confidence in one’s direction and capacities, while realizing deficiencies that one possess. I consider this as the major milestone during my transition that allowed me to overcome my conflicts and resolves the problems.
That defining identity is important, I knew in order to leave my father’s home and have my own family, I needed to be clear with myself. I needed to know what I wanted as (Jay, 2013) outlined, that having own identity is important in making adulthood decisions. In order to accomplish this, I had to make an assessment of alternatives; between having my own family and staying with my parent. The active exploration of options allowed me to create a sense of meaning through clear definition of roles and direction. Through research, discussion with friends and peers I discovered what I wanted, what I was involved in, the possible challenges and how to overcome them. This was important as it really provided a clear definition of what I would call my future and offered me a clear roadmap on achieving them as well as the expectations that came with it.
Although the identification of sense of meaning and direction was the core in overcoming the desire to have my own family, there was the task of finding an intimate relationship that would allow me to achieve my goal of having a family. According to (Glover, 2010) the development of intimacy can be achieved while one searches for meaning by matching the identity of oneself with that of others. Once I had developed a clear definition of what I wanted, I had to find an intimate relationship that would lead to marriage.
Aktu & Ilhan (2017) points the importance of self-investment and social roles in successful development and change in adulthood. Having good social skills that extend beyond one’s inner cycles to involve what (Jay, 2013) referred to as those outside one’s social cycles is important. It was due to my friendships with other people and participation in leisure activities that I met a committed partner. Together we developed concrete affiliation and partnership that later led to marriage. Now I am married to the one that I love, and we have two kids.
In addition, during my early adulthood, there was the conflict of balance of my career and my relationship. It was initially hard to have intimate relationship and at the same time having the responsibility of growing my professional life. In order to resolve the conflict, I had to find what I wanted for my professional development. In order to achieve this, I set professional goals for myself and what I needed in my relationship. I accomplished this by determining what I wanted to achieve, for example, whether I just needed good papers or whether I needed further professional growth by finding a job. Also, I had to determine the kind of a relationship that I wanted to pursue. Was I to have an explorative relationship and was I to seek commitments. As a result, I decided that I needed to grow professionally and needed a job, albeit with a concrete relationship.
The success of my personal life structures regarding my relationship and career development were greatly shaped by my personal values, peers, family and cultural norms. Life transitions do not often occur in isolation as they are factors of societal context, social groups and individual values. For example, when I decided to leave home to seek independence by having my own family, I had to seek support of my family. The support proved important in the transition process since through the family support, I got advice on how to have a good and healthy relationship and how to take care of my family. In addition, family and friends support was invaluable in the first few months of independence as they provided moral support as until I got stability with my family. Furthermore, the full transition does not mean all is good but there are some challenges that come with having a family like raising kids. Therefore, there support is still important even after making the transition.
According to (Erford, 2016) the transitions that occur in life are part of social influences, which give them form and distinct meaning. My adulthood transition was influenced greatly by my social interactions. For example, the need to have a good relationship was influenced from the kind of relationships I observed in my social interactions with other married people. I also learned a lot from my social groups including peers and workplace friends on the kind of career path I wanted to take. Having positive influence from my peers and friends allowed me to develop and pursue my career and relationship goals. However, choosing the right people to be part of one’s social group is important in achieving success.