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Emerging Adulthood Has Never Felt More Real

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Coming to you live from my parents’ basement!

If you’re anything like me, quarantining with your family may have you feeling in-between—not quite like a kid, but not quite like a grown-up either. Back in 2000, Jeffery Arnett came up with the term “emerging adulthood” to refer to this feeling; it’s the period of time between adolescence and adulthood. During emerging adulthood, it’s normal to experience a lot of change and instability. And now on top of all that, we have a global pandemic to deal with.  Here’s what emerging adulthood looks like in the time of COVID-19:


According to a PEW Research survey, more young adults are living with their parents than ever before, including during the Great Depression! And—no surprise here—but the increase was the highest for 18 to 24 year-old students. Living at home comes with all sorts of challenges, like having to adapt to different rules and norms than you’ve been used to (there’s more than one “right way” to load the dishwasher, Susan).

But living with roommates isn’t necessarily a great thing RN either, when it feels like you’re spending literally! every! minute! together! Especially for roommates who have conflicting views on the virus.


Surprisingly, enrollment numbers in post-secondary institutions haven’t dropped that much, which, wow. I don’t know about you, but I was definitely maybe considering taking a semester off. But while the pandemic might not have changed how many students enrolled this semester, it did impact who enrolled. Online learning is giving some students a chance to study who wouldn’t have considered it otherwise. Other students who need the in-person experience have chosen to take a year off.

Career & Money

One of the biggest lessons of emerging adulthood is financial independence. But that’s kinda difficult right now, considering the fact that young adults are among the most likely to have lost their job due to COVID-19. Many students and young professionals are also having to reimagine their career path because of the drastically changing job landscape.

Putting money in a piggy bank
Photo by Damir Spanic from Unsplash

Love & Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, emerging adulthood is a time of major exploration. This year, online dating has taken on a whole new meaning, with people going on literal dates via video call. The Match Group (which includes Tinder) reported an 11% increase in subscribers this quarter, and CNBC reported that Bumble usage was up by 26%.

But hookup culture definitely isn’t what it used to be. Earlier this year, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tham encouraged people to wear masks during sex and to avoid kissing (hot, right?) The health officials in New York City also suggested that people “be creative with sexual positions” that limit face-to-face contact.

On the relationship side of things, many couples have had to go long distance, while other couples now quite literally have no distance. Lots of single people have considered going back to their exes (on that note…proceed with caution—they’re your ex for a reason), and many engaged couples have had to postpone their weddings.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The Silver Lining

In spite of all the changes and challenges we’re facing as a result of the virus, I try to see the good in every situation. While adulting has become more difficult for young people, remember that emerging adulthood is a cultural luxury that people in a large part of the world don’t get to have. So although I might be stuck between dependency and autonomy for a little longer, I’m smiling through it, and hope that you can too.

Emily wrote and edited for Her Campus and Her Campus at uOttawa from 2020–2022.