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Redefining 20-Something Life46:44

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Young adults are putting off milestones like marriage, kids - even jobs. We look at how our culture and rough economy are redefining 20-something life.

Students at the University of California-Riverside, June 2, 2010. (AP)
Students at the University of California-Riverside, June 2, 2010. (AP)

Twenty-somethings are doing everything later these days: finishing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, finding a partner. Having kids isn’t even in the twenties for many.

Now, some scholars are suggesting we need a new understanding of what the twenties are. Not adulthood, but “emerging adulthood.” Think adolescence, only later.

Critics say, come off it. Get a job. Get going. But that’s tough in this economy. And the twenties are changing.

Alexander the Great conquered the world by thirty. But that was then.  
-Tom Ashbrook 

Robin Marantz Henig, contributing writer, New York Times Magazine. Her August 22 article in the Sunday magazine is “What Is It About 20-Somethings?”

Jessie Rosen, author of the blog "20-Nothings" and a contributing writer for Her response to Robin Henig’s article, written for Lemondrop, is “Dear New York Times, Here’s Why I Haven’t ‘Grown Up,’ Love, a 20-Something." She is 27 and calls herself a "deliberate wanderer."

Ben Woo, 26 years old. After several years in a consulting job, he resigned last April. Since then he has dabbled in being a line chef and is now working part-time for his parents in film production. 


Here's a list of famous people who accomplished something extraordinary in their twenties:

Madame Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry at age 26

Bill Gates incorporated Microsoft as Chairman & CEO at age 26 (launched Windows 1.0 at age 29/30)

Orson Welles did the radio adaptation of "War of the Worlds" at age 23, and acted in and directed “Citizen Kane” at 26

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph by age 30, and he invented the quadruplex telegraph (two messages in each direction simultaneously) at age 27

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at 19 and is currently CEO at age 26

Albert Einstein wrote his Special Theory of Relativity, E=mc2, at age 26

Alexander the Great assumed the throne at 20, and by age 26 he had conquered all of Asia Minor and Persia

Jack London wrote “The Call of the Wild” at age 27

Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic, winning a $25,000 prize at age 24

John Keats wrote "Ode on a Grecian Urn," which ends with the lines, "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,” at age 23

Inventor Samuel Colt patented the Colt six-shooter revolver at age 22

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, revolutionizing the economies of the United States and Britain, at age 26

Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy at age 26

Henry David Thoreau went off for two years to live alone in a cabin at Walden Pond at age 27

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space age 27

Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” at age 28

Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first complete sentence by telephone at age 29

Jane Austen wrote "Pride and Prejudice," her second and most famous novel, at age 20 

This program aired on August 23, 2010.




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