(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)At what age are you officially a proper adult?
Legally speaking, it’s 18. But if you chat to people in their twenties and beyond you’re likely to find that many don’t feel like actual grown-ups.
Scientists suggest that this is because in your twenties, you’re not a full-on adult. They say that you don’t become an adult until you reach your thirties.
That’s not an excuse to stop doing your laundry or paying taxes. Officially, you are an adult the day you turn 18.
But research suggests that your brain is still changing and adapting well into your twenties.
Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University, said: ‘What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd.
‘It’s a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.
‘I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions.
‘I think the system is adapting to what’s hiding in plain sight, that people don’t like (the idea of) a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
‘There isn’t a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they’re on a trajectory.’
What he’s essentially saying is that becoming an adult isn’t as simple as turning 18 – people continue to change and grow throughout their lives.
While the bulk of the changes to our brain happen in our teens, with neuros developing, connecting, and being pruned, this process continues past our thirtieth birthday. It’s a continuous process rather than having a clear, obvious end point that applies to everyone.
Throw in societal changes that have altered our perception of traditional markers of adulthood – owning a house, having a steady job, having children – and it makes sense that we may all be a bit puzzled by what it really means to be a grownup.
The positive news? If you still feel like a teen, you’re not alone. And you’ve at least got until your thirties to figure out the basics.
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