Turning 27, and redefining what it means to be an adult

A few weeks ago, I turned 27.

I joined the likes of Michael Phelps, Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson.

We were four when the Berlin Wall fell. Nine when the opening statements were read in the O.J. Simpson trial. Sixteen when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Twenty-one during the Virginia Tech shootings.

We’re old enough to remember rewinding videotapes, the sound desktop PCs made while connecting to dial-up and instant Polaroid pictures.
But we’re still so very young — or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

At my age, my mom and dad had a home, a dog and a baby on the way. I rent — four places in the last six years — and my last goldfish died after three days, which doesn’t bode well for a puppy or a child at this stage of my life.


The 27 of today is far different than that of my parents’ generation — or, again, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Sure, there are classmates from high school who are married and have children. Facebook reminds me every time one of them ties the knot or has another baby. At last count, one member of Tunkhannock Area High School’s Class of 2003 had five kids.

But the majority of my friends are just getting started on this whole adulthood thing.

If we’re not online looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, we’re in committed relationships — but not quite ready to put a ring on it. Some of us are even trying this whole living-together-before-marriage thing. The Pew Research Center said last year that the average age to get married is almost 29 for men and 27 for women — up from 23 and 20 in the 1960s.

We’re saving for our dream houses and living in apartments. And there’s time to squirrel away a down payment — the American Housing Survey says the average age of new homeowners is 34.

We might be swimming in student loan debt, but 63 percent of full-time workers under 30 have a bachelor’s degree to hang on the wall and 13 percent of us have earned a master’s degree, according to a recent study by Millennial Branding. And because of those degrees, we’re getting promotions and paving the path for our careers.

We’re getting paid — $44,500 a year, on average, according to payscale.com — enough money to buy new cars, travel and pick up the first round of craft beers on a night out with friends.

In short, we’re having a different kind of success than our parents, which suits this 27-year-old just fine.

When I was little, I used to try on my mom’s shoes and imagine what I wanted to be like when I grew up. My life looked a lot like hers.

Twenty-seven seemed so far away. It seemed like the age at which I’d have life figured out.

But now that it’s here, I realize I still have a lot of figuring out to do.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to celebrate my small adult successes. After all, no longer having to go to the Laundromat is a very big deal when you’re 27.

Having a washer and dryer is almost as good as having my first house, right?

I’ll just keep telling myself that.


April Trotter is the editor of Smart magazine. Email her at atrotter@ydr.com or follow her on Twitter @apriltrotter.

April Trotter

Editor of Smart. NEPA transplant. Penn State and Shippensburg grad. Kickball and craft beer enthusiast. Collector of cardigans. "Bennie and the Jets" fanatic. Contact me at atrotter@ydr.com, at "Smart magazine" on Facebook, @SmartMagPA on Twitter or by phone at 717-771-2030.

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1 Response

  1. September 15, 2012

    […] on September 15, 2012 by Sarah Chain TweetIn her column for Sunday, Smart editor April Trotter reflects on what her 27th birthday meant to her. She might be hitting different landmarks than her parents did at her age, but she’s creating […]

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