If you spend any time on the Internet these days, you’ve probably seen the word “adulting” come up on your feed several times. It refers to the process of acting like an adult—having a job, paying your bills, and making yourself dinner instead of just ordering takeout—and has gained a lot of traction among Millennials in recent years, probably because they’re more likely to still be living with their parents and actively avoiding marriage than previous generations were at their age.

The term has therefore opened up a discussion in recent years about what “being an adult” really means, especially since psychologists have added “emerging adulthood” to the list of life phases in order to describe people in their twenties who feel like they’re not teenagers anymore but aren’t quite “adults” yet either. And while, legally, you become an adult at the age of 18, scientists now say that you don’t really become fully adult until you hit 30, which is the age when your brain concludes its three-decades-long development.

“What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd,” Peter Jones, Professor of Psychiatry and Deputy Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC. “It’s a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.”

Jones admits that the age at which someone becomes an “adult” is different for everyone, but indicates that it would be inaccurate to call someone in their twenties an adult because they’re still going through a lot of brain development. “There isn’t a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they’re on a trajectory,” he said.

Of course, being an adult on a neurological level and feeling like one on an emotional level are two very different things. In light of the news, Bloomberg recently asked some people in their late twenties and early 30s if they feel like adults, and they all had very different answers.

“I think the surest sign of feeling like you’re an adult is maybe wishing you weren’t one,” responded Charlie, 28. (Which, let’s face it, is right on the money).

“[I’ll feel like an adult] when I can afford to live on an island and have like a private jet and go on holidays,” said Fiona, 26, perhaps setting the bar a little too high.

When asked what the surest sign of being an adult was, one 30-year-old just stared blankly at the camera for what felt like a lengthy period of time. All of which is to say that, if you don’t know what being an adult really means, don’t worry, because neither does anyone else. And for more news you can use, check out The Surprising Thing That Can Make You Less Likely To Vote.

5 thoughts on “Scientists Say This Is the Age When You Officially Become an Adult”
  1. Just a comment on becoming an adult, I do not think one really does in reality, as children we expect to become adult at some time in the future, However its a slow process and not clearly defined at all so i will give my take on this > we start work – we get responsibility – we become part of the community- but inside we do not feel like we have grown up ? , I my self used to look at my parents and assume they were comfortable with being adult but when i got there my self i wonder whether they sometimes felt like i do ?, I have worked hard all my life, taken on many responsibilities, and even if i say so my self have achieved more than a lot of folk would have done, however i am now 65 and i do not feel i have grown up at all, LOL, I think we have this expectation of this massive transition but in reality nothing much happens at all, we get responsibility and just learn to get on with it, However if there is one thing that can make one feel adult i think its responsibility it self, But as far as feeling anything major i don’t think it happens at all, For my self i do not feel that much different mentally than i did 40 years ago and in fact i think this expectation of becoming an adult is very over rated and does not really happen the way we think it should, Its just this expectation we have has children, and of course our tutors / parents / family all banging on about becoming responsible adults but never giving us a blueprint of what it actually is, I think we just learn to get on with life no matter what so called mental stage we are at, I think one thing is sure and that is at times most folk wish they could be children again with no responsibility and long before we learn about all the nastiness in the world. So to sum up then – the growing up we expect as children does not really happen at all its just a myth……..

  2. My mother always said some kid grow up and some kids get bigger. I believe a lot of people never make it

  3. I felt Like an adult when i walked into to the Armed Forces Entrance Examination Station in Brooklyn N.Y. on July 15, 1970 ( my 18th Birthday) and was ready to take the Oath…
    Maybe that’s what we need to grow-up these 30+ y.o. adolescents. Oh and, I had a job on the weekends working in a restaurant Fridays and Saturdays when I was 16…..

  4. Can’t wait till President Trump finds a few more senators and Congressmen/women become adults to help him make America great again.

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