(本文發表于2121年4月9日,作者為劍橋大學伊曼紐爾學院心理學副教授Clare Mehta)
(在一項仍在進行的研究中,大部分受訪者都承認:自己在三十幾歲時要比二十幾歲時幸福)

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what would it be?

如果你可以在自己的余生中一直停在某個歲數上,你希望是幾歲?

Would you choose to be nine years old, absolved of life’s most tedious responsibilities, and instead able to spend your days playing with friends and practicing your times tables?

你會不會選擇九歲,能從人生中大部分乏味且煩心的責任中解脫,還能把時光揮霍在和玩伴一起嬉戲以及習誦乘法口訣上?

Or would you choose your early 20s, when time feels endless and the world is your oyster – with friends, travel, pubs and clubs beckoning?

還是說,你會選擇20歲出頭,那時會感覺自己有無窮無盡的時間,而且會感覺整個世界都任你馳騁,朋友、出游、酒吧和俱樂部都在向你招手?

Western culture idealizes youth, so it may come as a surprise to learn that in a recent poll asking this question, the most popular answer wasn’t 9 or 23, but 36.

西方文化把青春理想化了,所以,當你發現在最近一項調查中被問及這個問題時大部分人的回答并不是9歲或23歲而是36歲時,可能會倍感意外。

Yet as a developmental psychologist, I thought that response made a lot of sense.

但作為一個成長心理學家,我認為這樣的回答是非常合情合理的。

For the last four years, I’ve been studying people’s experiences of their 30s and early 40s, and my research has led me to believe that this stage of life – while full of challenges – is much more rewarding than most might think.

在過去四年中,我一直在研究人們在三十多歲和四十歲出頭期間的(生命)體驗,而我的研究讓我相信:雖然這個生命階段充滿了挑戰,但相應的裨益和收獲卻遠超大部分人的想象。

The career and care crunch

事業和照護的兩難困局

When I was a researcher in my late 30s, I wanted to read more about the age period I was in. That was when I realized that no one was doing research on people in their 30s and early 40s, which puzzled me. So much often happens during this time: Buying homes, getting married or getting divorced; building careers, changing careers, having children or choosing not to have children.

在邁入四十歲前的幾年,當時我還是一名研究員,那時候的我希望能讀到更多有關我所在年齡段的資料。就在那個時候我意識到,根本沒有人去研究三十多歲到四十出頭這個年齡段的人,這讓我百思不得其解。太多的大事通常都會發生在這一年齡段內:買房子、結婚或離婚;立業、換職業、生育或是選擇不生育。

To study something, it helps to name it. So my colleagues and I named the period from ages 30 to 45 “established adulthood,” and then set out to try to understand it better. While we are still collecting data, we have currently interviewed over 100 people in this age cohort, and have collected survey data from more than 600 additional people.

想要研究某個對象,為其命名是有幫助的。所以我和我的同事們將30至45歲這段時間命名為“成年確立期”,然后就開始著手試圖更深刻地理解它。雖然我們還處在收集數據階段,我們現在已經采訪了這個年齡段中的一百多人,也已經從另外600多人身上收集到了調查數據。

We went into this large-scale project expecting to find that established adults were happy but struggling. We thought there would be rewards during this period of life – perhaps being settled in career, family and friendships, or peaking physically and cognitively – but also some significant challenges.

我們投身于這個大型項目的預期是,這些已經完成立身的成年人是幸福的,但同時也在掙扎。我們以為這個人生階段會帶給人各種收獲,也許是在職業、家庭和友誼方面安定下來,或是在體力和認知能力上達到巔峰,但也會遇到一些重大挑戰。

The main challenge we anticipated was what we called “the career and care crunch.”

我們預見到的主要挑戰就是我們所謂的“事業和照護的兩難困局”。

This refers to the collision of workplace demands and demands of caring for others that takes place in your 30s and early 40s. Trying to climb a ladder in a chosen career while also being increasingly expected to care for kids, tend to the needs of partners and perhaps care for aging parents can create a lot of stress and work.

該困局指的是你三十多歲到四十歲出頭時發生的情況,即職場的要求和照護別人的要求間發生的沖突。試圖在選定的職業領域中更上一層樓,同時指望你去照顧孩子,去滿足伴侶需求的情況也會越來越多,也可能是照顧年邁的父母,這些會造成很大的壓力,也會耗費大量心力。

Yet when we started to look at our data, what we found surprised us.

然而,當我們開始著眼于我們的數據時,發現結果很讓我們意外。

Yes, people were feeling overwhelmed and talked about having too much to do in too little time. But they also talked about feeling profoundly satisfied. All of these things that were bringing them stress were also bringing them joy.

是的,人們會感到不堪重負,還會談到需要做的事情太多,而可用的時間太少。但他們也談到說自己感受到了深深的滿足。所有這些給他們帶去壓力的事情,同時也給他們帶去了喜樂。

For example, Yuying, 44, said “even though there are complicated points of this time period, I feel very solidly happy in this space right now.” Nina, 39, simply described herself as being “wildly happy.” (The names used in this piece are pseudonyms, as required by research protocol.)

比如說,44歲的玉英(音)說,“就算這個時間段中會出現一些非常復雜難解的時點,但此時此刻我還是能感覺到實打實的幸?!?。39歲的妮娜則把自己簡述為“無比幸?!?。(按照研究協議的要求,本文中出現的名字都是假名)
原創翻譯:龍騰網 http://www.cqxyscyz.com 轉載請注明出處


When we took an even closer look at our data, it started to become clear why people might wish to remain age 36 over any other age. People talked about being in the prime of their lives and feeling at their peak. After years of working to develop careers and relationships, people reported feeling as though they had finally arrived.

當我們更細致地審視我們的數據時,人們希望永駐36歲而不是其他任何年齡的原因就開始明朗了。人們談到,自己正處于人生中最好的年華,而且感覺自己處于巔峰狀態。經過多年發展事業和人脈的努力,人們報告說感覺自己終于成功了。

Mark, 36, shared that, at least for him, “things feel more in place.” “I’ve put together a machine that’s finally got all the parts it needs,” he said.

36歲的馬克分享說,至少對他而言,“感覺各方各面都更到位了?!彼f,“我完成了一臺機器的拼裝,到最后,所需的所有部件都就位了”。

A sigh of relief after the tumultuous 20s

經過了凌亂的二十幾歲,出現了能松口氣的跡象
原創翻譯:龍騰網 http://www.cqxyscyz.com 轉載請注明出處


As well as feeling as though they had accumulated the careers, relationships and general life skills they had been working toward since their 20s, people also said they had greater self-confidence and understood themselves better.

除了感覺到自己已經完成了從20幾歲起一直在孜孜以求的事業、人脈和常規生活技能的積累,人們還說他們的自信心變強了,也更了解自己了。

Jodie, 36, appreciated the wisdom she had gained as she reflected on life beyond her 20s:

36歲的喬蒂在反思20歲之后的生活時,很感激她在此過程中收獲的智慧。

“Now you’ve got a solid decade of life experience. And what you discover about yourself in your 20s isn’t necessarily that what you wanted was wrong. It’s just you have the opportunity to figure out what you don’t want and what’s not going to work for you. … So you go into your 30s, and you don’t waste a bunch of time going on half dozen dates with somebody that’s probably not really going to work out, because you’ve dated before and you have that confidence and that self-assuredness to be like, ‘hey, thanks but no thanks.’ Your friend circle becomes a lot closer because you weed out the people that you just don’t need in your life that bring drama.”

“現在你已經擁有了整整十年的生活經驗。而就你在20多歲時對自己的發現來看,你想要的東西并不一定就是錯的。只是你有機會想明白哪些東西是你不想要的,以及哪些東西對你不會起作用。所以在你邁入30歲的門檻后,你就不會把大量的時間浪費在去和半打可能成不了的人約會上了,因為你以前約會過,而且你有那種自信和自我確信去說出‘謝謝,不用了?!愕呐笥讶h比以前緊密了,因為你剔除了那些你在生活中并不需要卻會帶來戲劇性的人?!?

Most established adults we interviewed seemed to recognize that they were happier in their 30s than they were in their 20s, and this impacted how they thought about some of the signs of physical aging that they were starting to encounter. For example, Lisa, 37, said, “If I could go back physically but I had to also go back emotionally and mentally … no way. I would take flabby skin lines every day.”

我們采訪的大部分完成立身的成年人似乎都認識到了,他們在30多歲時比20多歲時更幸福,而這影響到了他們看待他們開始遇到的一些身體老化跡象的視角。比如,37歲的麗莎就說,“如果我可以重新擁有年輕的身體,卻不得不在情感和心智上回到過去的狀態...那門兒都沒有。我在任何時候都會選擇松松垮垮的皮膚紋理”。

Not ideal for everyone

并不是每個人都適用

Our research should be viewed with some caveats.

在檢視我們的研究時需要注意一些問題。

The interviews were primarily conducted with middle-class North Americans, and many of the participants are white. For those who are working class, or for those who have had to reckon with decades of systemic racism, established adulthood may not be so rosy.

這些訪談對象主要是北美的中產階級,而且參與者中有很多都是白人。對于勞工階層或是那些不得不去應付長達幾十年的系統性種族主義的群體來說,成年確立期可能就不會這么光鮮美好了。
原創翻譯:龍騰網 http://www.cqxyscyz.com 轉載請注明出處


My colleagues and I hope that our work and Shaefer’s book are just the beginning. Having a better understanding of the challenges and rewards of established adulthood will give society more tools to support people during that period, ensuring that this golden age provides not only memories that we will fondly look back upon, but also a solid foundation for the rest of our lives.

我和我的同事希望我們的工作和謝菲爾的書只是一個開始。更深刻地理解成年確立期的挑戰和收獲,將能賦予社會更多的工具來撐持身處這一階段的人,并確保這一黃金年齡不僅能為我們提供可深情回顧的紛繁記憶,還能成為我們余生的堅實基礎。