Millennials aren't self-centered, just individualistic, apparently


Ah, Millennials, the generation du jour that's the butt of everyone's jokes. It seems like this self-absorbed age group just doesn't want to grow up, but maybe it's actually just misunderstood.

It's possible that Millennials seem immature because their idea of what adulthood means differs from what previous generations envisioned. Millennials think they've entered adulthood when they accept responsibility for themselves, achieve financial independence and make decisions independently, according to the recently-released 2014 Clark Poll of Established Adults.

The idea of what makes someone an adult has changed over time, the director of the Clark Poll of Emerging Adults Jeffrey Jensen Arnett told NPR. People used to think markers of adulthood were shared experiences, such as getting married or having children. However, with people waiting until they get older to get married and start families today, they're correspondingly not defining their adult lives by those events as much.

"I describe it as the self-focused time in life," Arnett told NPR. "I don't mean that they're selfish; I mean that they have fewer social rules and obligations — the freedom to be self-directed."

See? Millennials are supposed to be self-centered. When else in life do you have the time to think about yourself and only yourself than in your 20s, free from the constraints of spouses, children and other responsibilities that usually come later on in adulthood? The show's over. We can all go home now.

Since being in their 20s is so freeing for Millennials, you would think they would be terrified of turning 30, which has a reputation of being the time when people become a "boring" and are forced to settle down. However, twentysomethings are actually looking forward to turning 30. The poll, which surveyed a sample of 25 to 39-year-olds, found that as they approach or already approached turning 30, 74 percent of established adults were hopeful, 72 percent were happy and 59 percent were excited. I guess that means 30 is the new 20?

Millennials aren't completely turning away from the path toward traditional adulthood, though. Nearly 69 percent of singles that took the poll said they woud like to marry eventually. This is a higher figure than what the Pew Research Center found last month with its survey on Millennials and marriage, which found that 53 percent of Millennials hoped they would get married some day. That study also found that a quarter of today's single 25 to 34-year-olds would never marry by the time they reach their mid-40s to mid-50s.

So now you know. Millennials just march to the beat of their own drums, and probably all of the media attention this generation gets fuels their individualistic spirit. You're welcome.

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