Are we ever really grown up?
This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately. My 30th birthday is on the horizon, and although I’ve turned a corner in my life in which I feel more secure than ever, I definitely don’t feel like a grown up. A recent issue of TIME magazine (“Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation“) pointed out that our generation is all me, all the time, with the small generosity that we will, none-the-less, save the world.
Is it this inability to see past ourselves that makes us less grown up? Or is it, perhaps, because we’ve graduated into a world in which we largely haven’t had the opportunity to fully develop into the conventional idea of adulthood? Where once, the natural progression was college graduation, a strong enough job to pay for a home, then marriage, and then a baby, we now take haphazard paths — graduating to nothingness, or to jobs that we could have had right out of high school; to ridiculously high housing costs that necessitate sometimes strange living situations. And, if we’re lucky, to the realization that if we want something worthwhile we’ll probably have to create it from dust and an enormous amount of willpower.
When I first saw this preview of Frances Ha, it was so aligned with the feelings I have about this period of life in this period of time that I pressed pause and came back to it later because thinking about it any more than I already to makes me kind of tired. Admittedly, it took reading a New York Times review (“If 27 Is Old, How Old Is Grown Up?“) by A.O. Scott to press play again. In the review, Scott writes:
Frances is left to improvise, and also to learn some hard lessons, none of which are terribly surprising in hindsight, but most of which she still somehow fails to anticipate. She bounces from one living situation to another, briefly to Paris and to Sacramento for Christmas with her parents (played by Ms. Gerwig’s own parents). Her professional progress is as precarious as her social life.
I’m not sure that this film will answer any questions or make things clearer. But I do think there’s enormous value in listening to the stories of people in this generation, and in seeing ourselves reflected in imperfect characters like Frances. And perhaps, in recognizing the things that make us flawed, we get just a little bit closer to being grown up.
P.S. In response to the TIME article, The Atlantic printed this rebuttal.