In 1789, Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” 

While often taken as a commentary on the inevitability of death and taxes, Franklin’s words also underscore the enduring nature of uncertainty in life. This timeless truth was shared in a letter to his friend Jean-Baptiste Le Roy, who was experiencing the turmoil of the French Revolution. 

Franklin mused over the uncertain future of both Le Roy and the fledgling United States, suggesting that uncertainty is an intrinsic part of human existence. Today, Gen Z, particularly those in their twenties, grapple with this uncertainty in unprecedented ways.

Transitioning from Structured Lives to Uncertainty

For many young adults, the transition from the structured environment of school to the unpredictable world of work is jarring. During their school years, clear guidelines and measurable milestones provided a sense of stability and progress. 

Syllabi outlined exactly what needed to be done and when, while grades offered a tangible sense of standing among peers. Yearly advancements marked clear progress, creating a predictable and reassuring structure.

However, as they enter their twenties, young adults face a vastly different landscape. The predictability of school life gives way to the uncertainty of work, where they often change jobs frequently. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Today’s young workers will have, on average, nine different jobs by the age of 35.” This constant flux is compounded by financial instability, with about half of young adults receiving financial help from their parents and a fifth struggling with unpaid bills.

Additionally, many twentysomethings move annually, often in search of better job opportunities.

The Impact of Remote Work and Mobility

The rise of remote work has introduced new dynamics into the lives of young adults. Approximately one-third of workers now operate from home, which for many twenty-something means working in cramped, noisy apartments. 

While the image of the digital nomad is alluring, the reality for most is a life spent migrating from one coffee shop to another, laden with laptops and chargers. This transience extends to their social lives as well. Despite the perception of the twenties as a highly social decade, it is often the loneliest. 

According to a report by YouGov, “About two-thirds of twenty-somethings say they have no close friends; about half of twentysomething men and a third of twentysomething women are single, although about half of the unattached say they want more in friendship or love.”

Such a lifestyle, characterized by frequent job changes and moves, makes it challenging to form and maintain lasting relationships.

Read more: Anupam Mittal’s Brutally Honest Post On Gen Z Work Attitude

Shifting Milestones and Delayed Stability 

Traditional milestones such as marriage, starting a family, and homeownership are now often delayed until the thirties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Thirty is now the mean-average age to walk down the aisle or to stop by the courthouse, and it’s also the median-average age to have one’s first child.” 

This shift means that many young adults spend their twenties feeling unsettled, without the stability that previous generations might have found earlier in life.

The dream of homeownership is increasingly out of reach for many, with the average first-time home buyer now being 36 years old. High housing costs and low inventory make owning a home feel like a distant fantasy rather than an achievable goal.

Consequently, young adults are postponing these significant life events, further contributing to their sense of uncertainty and instability.

The era in which today’s twenty-something has come of age has been particularly turbulent. Growing up in the shadow of 9/11 and facing the constant threat of school shootings has instilled a sense of vulnerability and fear. 

According to The Washington Post, “They went to classes amid more than 375 school shootings—and counting—since the year 2000. Hundreds of thousands of them have been exposed to gun violence, and nearly all of them know what it is like to crouch under their desks in an active shooter drill.”

Their entry into the workforce has also been marked by significant challenges. Workplaces are not only the most common sites for mass shootings but also environments where many young adults face issues of harassment and inequality. 

Movements like “Me Too” and social justice protests have highlighted the deep-seated issues of gender, racial, and economic disparities, adding to the pervasive sense of uncertainty.

The Psychological Toll of Peak Uncertainty

The persistent uncertainty faced by today’s young adults has profound implications for their mental and physical well-being. The constant flux in their professional and personal lives, coupled with broader societal issues, creates a high-stress environment. This generation, having grown up amid the threat of terrorism, gun violence, and economic instability, is particularly susceptible to anxiety and stress-related disorders.

Statistical trends reflect this heightened sense of uncertainty. According to Google Ngram Viewer, “The word uncertainty was used in the English language at a rather steady rate until about the year 1950. From then on, it crept upward to a peak at around the year 2000, where it has remained ever since.” 

This linguistic shift mirrors the lived experiences of twenty-first-century young adults, who navigate a world where uncertainty pervades nearly every aspect of their lives, impacting their bodies and minds in ways that are often overlooked.

Benjamin Franklin’s observation about the inevitability of death and taxes underscores a broader truth about the persistent nature of uncertainty in life. For today’s young adults, this uncertainty is particularly pronounced, as they navigate the transition from the structured world of school to the unpredictable landscape of adulthood. 

With frequent job changes, financial instability, delayed milestones, and a turbulent societal backdrop, twentysomethings today face unprecedented challenges. Understanding and addressing the impact of this uncertainty is crucial for supporting this generation as they chart their course through an unpredictable world.

Image sources: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Print, Forbes, Business Standard 

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under: Millennial Life, Young Adults, Gen Z, Work From Home, Career Changes, Life Transitions, Financial Stability, Modern Relationships, Home Ownership, Mental Health, Uncertain Times, TwentySomethings, Digital Nomads, Remote Work, Social Isolation

We do not hold any right over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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