When I was going through teacher training years and years ago, I learned about stages of development. I was taught that everyone goes through the same thing at approximately the same time. For instance, when you’re about 6-9 years old, you build your self-esteem; when you’re in middle school other people tear that down to the point where you cry and you fake being sick so you don’t have to go to school and deal with that bully (you reading this Daryl?! No! Cuz you can’t read! Now who’s the spaz who’s so poor he has to wear sweat pants to school!?!).
Even when I was in college and was hanging out with people who decided to skip university, I noticed we were all pretty much on the same page. As I cross through my 30s, I notice things are a bit different.
In Erickson’s Stage of Development, he talks about a person overcoming certain crises that everyone everywhere is bound to run into. If a person can overcome this crisis, he generally moves onto the next stage; if he can’t, he is either stuck in this stage or this stage comes back later to haunt him (for instance, you learn to trust your parents in the first stage. If, for whatever reason, you find that your parents are untrustworthy, then you will probably exit this stage with a faulty sense of reliance on other people). If I remember right, all of his stages have very specific age criteria: I think the first stage ends at around 18 months whether you want it to or not. After a certain period of time, a person’s brain just isn’t equipped for it anymore. It seems that the further we get into adulthood, the more concrete the crisis is and the more vague the timeline is.
I noticed that people who never really got a jobjob – like a career-type job not just something that could replaced at anytime – seem to be stuck (by “stuck” I mean they never overcame that crisis and are now sitting and spinning) and it doesn’t really matter when they get this job; it can be at 21 or 51. People who never really tried to get a house seem to be stuck (I know a few people who’ve attempted to buy a condo or something but just couldn’t afford it; they seem fine to me); again, it doesn‘t really matter when this happens so long as you set out to make a place of your own and you plan on staying in this place for the foreseeable future. People who never got married seem stuck. I’ve only been a parent for just over a year, but I wonder if people who never attempt to have kids get stuck too (again, I think it‘s probably in the attempt; you have to want to have your life disrupted).
Was I stuck? Am I moving forward now? Maybe that’s why these things are called “milestones”?
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