In Levinson’s Anatomy of a Life Cycle (1978), life cycle evolves through the sequence of eras (time of life) each lasting roughly 2 year and overlap partially. Each era is distinct and has its own qualities. Following said life cycle, I am in the Early Adult Era, (17-45 years old)
There are two major tasks under this life cycle; first is to separate from the family of origin and second is to form a basis of living in the adult world before becoming fully part of it. While this framework applies to almost every person in the planet it is important to note that this is more applicable in the Western setting. Take the first major task for example, in the US it is expected that a person will move out of her/his family’s home when she/he turns eighteen. Here in our country, a person usually lives with her/his family until they get married. Also, in our country the 2nd major task usually happens before the first. Traditionally, after we finish studying, we find job first and leave the nest when we are financially stable or got married.
This era is also considered to be the most dramatic and stressful of all eras and I totally agree with this. This is where majority of life’s greatest turn-overs and biggest decisions happen. In this era, we transition from adolescence to adulthood and we start to build our own identity, establish our place in the society, and make decisions that will permanently change our lives like choosing a career and starting a family. This era is also the where we reach the peak of our biological function and productivity and close to our highest intellectual capacity. Under this era, we usually become a spouse, a parent and a vital part of the society.
This made me reflect on what am I supposed to achieve and accomplish in this era. I realized that while I am indeed at the most stressful and dramatic stage of my life, I am also not making major transitions in life like moving out from my parent’s home (due to several reasons) or contemplating marriage. Which in turn made me realize that each of us has her/his own journey and we don’t necessarily have to follow the pattern that society has imposed upon us. It is helpful to ponder upon where stage you are in the human life cycle but it is more important that you listen to your heart and follow its desires. We don’t have to conform, we can be as unique and weird as we can be as long as it doesn’t hurt the people around us. I may not fit 100% in the life cycle that I am supposed to be in but it doesn’t mean that I am not doing anything worthy of my time and I still have enough time between this era and the next, so there is no rush.