What changes a human generation

20-30 years


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20-30 years

If you are not a criminal now you will not become one anymore

Anyone who thinks they are 20 years old is wrong. Yes, the body no longer sprouts upwards, the penis no longer gets longer, the breasts no longer get bigger, at least until pregnancy. But in the brain, which significantly shapes our personality, maturation continues, new structures are formed and, almost more importantly, old structures are broken down, like a gardener pulling weeds, only that it happens here by itself, in an uninterrupted interplay of genes, the brain and the environment. The first major phase of development is completed at the age of 24 or 25, when the prefrontal cortex, which is important for social decision-making processes and the development of the ego, assumes its adult form as the last part of the brain.

How people are then - whether solitary or sociable, selfish or selfless, conscientious or negligent, emotionally stable or fluctuating, curious or unwilling to learn - is now largely decided. It is true that there is a lifelong chance to work on yourself. But that always happens within the framework of the personality that you have become in your mid-twenties. Those who are not criminals by the age of 25 are very likely not to be criminals for the rest of their lives either.

People who are now able to live in community, take different perspectives on issues and resolve conflicts are well prepared for the growing responsibility that is now coming into life: We have to make difficult decisions for an apprenticeship, a course of study , a place of residence, a partner. With the first salary we become independent, and so there are further decisions to be made: fulfill wishes, travel, save, invest, think about retirement, repay student debts?

The multitude of options can become a stressful factor. For the first time, this also results in the risk of existential errors. For many, these are healing experiences because they offer the possibility of making corrections. Some experience fear for the first time that their newly won independence could lead directly to existential misery. Nevertheless, in this phase, many still feel that they are protected by parents, bosses or professors and teachers. They are still at an age when older adults take care of them and stand by their side.

Generation 20-30 info box

What is only now possible

To be appointed as lay judges According to Section 33 of the Courts Constitution Act, you can only do so from the age of 25.

Pure masculinity: After the male testosterone level has risen sharply during puberty, it has its maximum between 20 and 30 years. In old age it slowly decreases again.

What works again

Withstand strong smells: During the first three months of pregnancy, women suddenly find strong smells such as coffee or perfumes extremely unpleasant. This intense odor perception then drops again significantly from the fourth month onwards.

To be "down without": Hair removal in the genital area is more common among the 18 to 25 year olds than in any other age group. More than half of women of this age remove their pubic hair occasionally or regularly, according to the results of a representative survey by the University of Leipzig.

What no longer works

The youngest professor in Germany will be: You would have to be under 24 for this. The high-flyer mathematics Peter Scholze received a chair at the University of Bonn in 2012 at the age of 24 and was even allowed to skip the habilitation.

Hearing a dog whistle: From around the age of 25, we no longer hear these and similar high frequencies.

Picking kiwis in New Zealand: At least not with a working holiday visa. The application for this must be submitted to the New Zealand embassy before the 31st birthday.

What happens in lives between 20 and 30 years old has changed radically. In 1970, by the age of 25, eighty percent of Americans were married; in 2005 there were only half as many. A few decades ago, women who had their first child in their late twenties were still considered "old mothers", today this is becoming normal, although early parenting can still have advantages today. In their mid-twenties, people are often biologically and physically at the height of their strength. The "liquid intelligence", for example the ability to remember quickly, is most pronounced at this age. The brain now hardly produces any new nerve cells. An important exception is the hippocampus deep inside the brain. Here, especially with physical exercise and mental challenges, neurons sprout into old age, which promote new learning and orientation in time and space.

Living with the times can mean appreciating and cultivating the strengths of this phase of life as a temporary gift, and not seeing it as a self-evident permanent condition. A hint for this is a new attitude towards life: Until their mid-twenties, many people want to appear older than they are, but now younger.