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Author of An Ordinary Age, out 5/4/2021. Freelance writer. Kentuckian.

‘The End of Adolescence’ debunks the stereotype that young people today are slow to grow up.

It sounds like a movie plot: Researchers stumble upon a forgotten archive of research, featuring interviews with then-college students, stashed in the attic of a Harvard University building for 50 years. And that research might change everything we thought we knew about what it means to grow up.

The initial researchers had abandoned 10 years of work — focused on illustrating generational differences — because they found the exact opposite: there are, they found, remarkable similarities and continuities between generations, meaning that the experience of time, exploration, and coming of age isn’t a uniquely kids-these-days one. …


‘So, what are your plans?’ isn’t always helpful.

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

It’s been a couple years since I was a college student, and even then, my own chaotic time in college is one reason I’ve written frequently about the myth of the “college experience” being the “best four years of your life.”

But my personal chaos was nothing compared to what the classes of 2020 and 2021 experienced: Midway through spring semester last year, students were shuffled off campuses, sometimes leaving them without the housing, internet access, and resources they depended upon. They were bounced into a job market that was dismal. They were grieving the loss of family members, friends…


The more we care what others think of us, the harder it is to know ourselves. But self-compassion can help.

Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

Depending on who you listen to, I’m a “try-hard,” an imposter, no fun at parties, and could be improving at, well, just about everything, from the way I dress, to the job I do, to wrangling my eyebrows.

All of these are things that have been said about me or to me, but that isn’t the part that sent off alarm bells in my head. What struck me is how often my brain repeats these things back to itself, like it’s studying flashcards for an exam we’re likely to fail. …


How do we untether ourselves from the people we imagined we’d become?

An overgrown array of flowers and roses and ivy growing up the side of a brick building, and out a small window.

Growing out of things is spun as a given: Old clothes that no longer fit or feel like you, jobs or schools, phases of life, living situations, habits. Growth is part of the plan, the part those of us lucky enough to get to grow up, and continue growing, go through.

That doesn’t mean parts of growth aren’t brutal, and complicated. While the obvious versions of growth — new phases, new moves, new beginnings — get a lot of airtime, what pops up less often is the inverse: What happens when you step into the life you’ve worked for, and…


What happens when “just take care of yourself” starts to sound a lot like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”?

Photo: Images by Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

I think it was the suggestion that I join an after-work mental health workshop that involved a quiz at the end. Or maybe it was the earnest pitch offering a desktop extension to make my laptop “cozier,” whatever that means.

I’m not sure exactly which moment was the tipping point, but I do know this much: In the middle of a pandemic, the years of chipper notes to make time for self-care and wellness reminders from schools and workplaces made it official. The idea of taking care of myself started to stress me out.

Really, the problem was that I…


Here’s what to do with that late-pandemic impulse to make a big change

Photo: Hispanolistic/Getty Images

Blowing up your life has always seemed like a romantic idea — shrugging off all the things that were weighing you down, wiping your slate clean, actually doing the thing you always kept tucked in the back of your mind. Trying your hand at a job in a totally different industry. Picking up and moving somewhere new, just for the thrill of the change.

Now, there’s a sense going around that those options are feeling more possible than they ever have before: Covid already blew up our lives. Now, the thinking goes, comes the chance to do it ourselves.

A…


Maybe we can’t fix perfectionism ourselves.

Image source.

It was the drumbeat of my life, growing up: When I overdid my homework and rewrote notes until my penmanship was perfect, when I practiced pirouettes in the ballet studio until my calves started giving out, when I people-pleased to the point where it was harmful, came the refrain — “you’ll grow out of it.”

From being a people-pleasing kid, to a young adult anxious about failing, to a woman who didn’t comprehend she was allowed to say no, even if it upset someone else, people always told me I’d grow out of the…


“I was a person before I was a mother, before I was a teen mother, before I was the pregnant girl.”

The last time I spoke to Nicole Lynn Lewis, founder of Generation Hope, she told me that student parents, especially those who are teenagers, are a “largely invisible population.” Despite being at the epicenter of intersecting issues, including systemic racism, poverty, classism, and basic needs insecurity, young adults who are juggling school, work, parenting, and growing up are frequently left out of discourse on everything from student debt cancellation to societal perception of what young adulthood holds. Around 12 years ago, when Lewis first got the idea to share her story via a memoir, that’s what the mentality was: Lewis…


What does it mean to plan out our lives in unplannable circumstances?

The last time someone asked me about my five-year plan, I was in an office with too few windows, interviewing for a job that listed one set of responsibilities in the description and a different set in the interviews. I tried not to let it faze me, because the role came with health insurance.

By that point, I’d googled enough examples, filled out enough college applications, and written enough cover letters to be able to succinctly answer t when asked. …


Image source: Variety

At fifteen, I was staring down losing a career that I’d committed my short life to chasing, choosing ballet barres and bloody blisters across my toes over boys and benchmarks of a high school life well-lived. I was living for the day I’d “get out of here” without pinpointing where on the map of my mind I envisioned myself going.

I didn’t know that not just that career, but the next two, at least, wouldn’t shake out. I didn’t know that all my “somewhere elses” would lead me back home. I didn’t know that one day, my teenage self wouldn’t…

Rainesford Stauffer

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