Traditional Markers of Adulthood: Have They Skipped Our Generation?


Forty years ago, at the age of twenty-one, a high percentage of the British population could afford to buy a house and then tie the knot with their childhood sweetheart soon after. I have recently hit the age of twenty-two and whilst I am happy that I don’t have a ring on my finger and a mortgage around my neck just yet, I do ask myself, have the traditional markers of adulthood skipped our generation? Markers such as, following your departure from University, you imminently begin the career you’ve always wanted and can quickly save for a place of your own. Today, that is nearly impossible (unless you’re one of the lucky ones), as the majority of students leave with a lot of debt and little idea of where to head next. Rewind to just under forty years to the 1980s and the next step would have been easier to arrange. Mortgages were cheaper and the job market was less competitive for graduates. The path ahead was easier to access, and students would leave University able to execute their plan of action to suit their best interests. Adulthood seems less daunting when the building blocks for it are easier to access. It is therefore no wonder that the ‘post-university blues’ have stapled their mark on our society over the past couple of decades. Students leave University in high spirits that can be easily dampened when the big wide world makes you feel as though you are unemployable. The pit is easy to sink into when the dreams you had feel so out of reach. A little depressing? This has become a reality for many. Post-university blues are often swept under the carpet with responses such as: “you’ll adjust to this new life soon” or “that’s just life” and they are right, that is life, but why should you suffer and wait for things to just get better? As of 2019, 49% of students surveyed admitted that their mental health declined after University. Many of us will move back into our family homes and scratch our heads as we try to figure out what’s next. The markers of adulthood that were once there for our parents and grandparents are simply not there for the majority of us today. Social media apps such as Instagram have us endlessly scrolling and comparing our successes. Another post of a sun lounger selfie on a luxurious beach in Dubai has us asking ourselves: Why is my life not like that? The answer: It just isn’t right at this moment, and that’s ok. It’s ok that the future is questionable, and the foundations haven’t been set yet. It’s ok that you got rejected from that job you wanted. It’s ok that you still live with your parents. When life after Uni arrives, remove the markers of adulthood and remove the comparison between your life and another’s. It is important that we applaud the journey of another without condemning our own. Life is always right on time and eliminating the markers of adulthood is just another way to liberate your own journey ahead. 


If you feel worried about the future and this is having a negative impact on your mental health, there is help available. Bangor University has great student services that include one-to-one counselling sessions and group workshops to discuss any personal and troubling issues you may have. 


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