Emotional developments (20 - 40)

This is a time in your life for many firsts, many changes and many adjustments. Some may be positive, others difficult and others not-to-be-repeated experiences.

 You will, in your early twenties, begin to feel more secure about yourself than you did when you were a teenager. But these are still potentially confusing times, when there is an enormous amount of social pressure on you to establish a career, become financially independent, find a life partner and learn to cope with possible motherhood.

It must be remembered that even positive changes bring about stress. All change is stressful and your twenties and thirties are about changes.

How well you know yourself will play a great role in how you deal with the dramatic changes in your life. How healthy your self-image is, will also determine many of your choices, from sexual choices, to career choices to your choice of partner.

Despite a growing sense of independence, during this time in your life, friends and family will be very important support structures. If you are a good friend, you will have good friends.

Spending time with them will help you to destress. Family is also important, and not only because granny will babysit, so you can go to the movies. If however, you feel that your family of origin is more destructive than supportive, it may be an idea to minimise contact, especially if it stresses you out.

You will, at this stage of your life, probably learn the very liberating skill of saying no. Knowing where to draw the line with your children, your boss, your parents, your partner and your friends.

This is not a selfish thing to do – on the contrary. In this way you will not get burnt out or feel used as you would if you always bent over backwards to accommodate everyone, except yourself, that is.

It is also during these twenty years of your life that your personal values will become clearer and you will prioritise your life accordingly. It is a time of change, of growth, of major decisions and of hard work – take a deep breath and get the most out of the experience.

(Liesel Powell, Health24, July 2003)

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