Early adulthood begins at 24 nowadays because people are continuing their educations for a longer time and putting marriage and parenthood. Besides that, most people’s wisdom teeth do not come through until age 25! We did develop a bit in terms of height and weight during early adulthood, but there were no dramatic changes such as we felt in the first year of our lives. Early adulthood officially lasts until 40 years of age, and it was this stage when we learned to use our filters, and when shut them down.
When we became adults, our brains began to signal that we needed stability and reliability, even though they were still working to optimize connectivity between different brain regions. Sigmund Freud once said that a healthy adult is one who can “love and work” and that is what this stage is usually all about. We had learned to listen to our brain signals by this time. Psychologists generally define true love as the magical combination sexual attraction, mutual enjoyment, emotional knowing, social compatibility, sensitive consideration, physical affection, friendship, and romantic excitement, all combined with a sense of caring, commitment and completeness. That is the formula for realizing that some other person is the only one for you. Most of us tested that formula in Early Adulthood. Some of us tested it quite a few times.
Evolutionary psychology claims that romantic love is merely a tool to help us reach the goal of successful reproduction. In other words, falling in love is thought to be a characteristic of our evolution, and sexual attraction is there to encourage us, just like wild animals. Humans haven’t changed much; generally speaking, men are still attracted to women with hourglass shapes, which unconsciously transmit health and fertility, and women are generally attracted to men with “V’ shapes, which represent strength and dominance. In other words, when we are picking a spouse during this phase, we are often unconsciously considering his or her genetic and fertility benefits.
Early adulthood is the time when most professional athletes are at the peak of their games, and so were we, in terms of muscle strength, reaction time, sensory abilities, and cardiac functioning. However, Early Adulthood is also the time the aging process begins, although it is usually not noticeable. This is the stage when we might have needed our first prescription glasses, our hair may have began to thin or grey a little, and a few wrinkles might have appeared around our eyes. Our immune systems became less efficient at fighting illness and our reproductive capacities started to decline. But on the up side, our continuing brain development caused us to inhibit risky behavior a bit. Also, all aging changes were controllable with extra care or medication or treatments, and we didn’t worry about most of them.
Early Adulthood is also the time of a tremendous abundance of energy, as well as tremendous stress, mostly because of decisions; and a high percentage of them were career decisions. Those career decisions often affected our friendships, and even our decisions to have children or not to have children. We were expected not only to have formed mature friendships, mature intimate relationships, but also to have established or reestablished strong family ties, and a core of ideological values. During this phase, society expects everybody to be happy in their chosen vocations and looking optimistically their futures. Early Adulthood was when we realized we had to take responsibility for our own self-growth. This was often rewarding because for many of us it was the stage in which we got our first promotions and bought our first homes or cars. In other words, the stage when many of us became empowered, even though a lot of us think that word is overused. We were supposed to have established a firm personal identity by Early Adulthood, and most of us did.
Unfortunately, early adulthood can also be a stage in which some major internal changes take place, and some of us became vulnerable to mental disorders like addictions, eating disorders, suicide, depression and schizophrenia. It is also not uncommon for people in this phase to completely change their life structures and start with a new spouse, a different career, or even a new life in a different country.
The word cliffhanger comes from cliffs. Duh. Cliffs are vertical, or nearly vertical, rocks that have been formed by erosion and weathering. There are lots of famous cliffs, but the first ones that come to my mind are the White Cliffs of Dover, probably because there was a popular World War II song about them that was part of my childhood, and also because they are on the historical English coastline.
When one thinks of cliffhangers, England and its gothic novels always come to mind. Cliffhangers are the kind of story, book or movie that uses suspense either at the end of an episode or a scene. A good example was the way the final episode of Game of Thrones, season 5, was done. Jon Snow was dead. Or was he? Those of us who sweated it out until season 6 was aired were never really sure. The writers used old-fashioned melodrama, suspense and uncertainty, and the audience was left as if hanging from a cliff in a state of tension and apprehension. And that’s a true cliffhanger.
This part of the blog will not be able to offer any nail-biting cliffhangers, but it will have classes in series, and I hope they will be interesting enough that you will want to come back and read what happens next, even if you don’t lose sleep anticipating the next chapter. Enjoy.