Casey Johnson, 27, the son of author Marni Jackson, has held countless jobs since graduating from university. He currently works as a bicycle mechanic and no longer lives with his parents. He offers his thoughts on what it’s like for his generation to enter adulthood:
For you, what does being a grown-up actually mean?
I’m not sure if I know yet. I’d say it has something to do with being responsible, not just for yourself, but more and more for other people.
How grown-up do you feel right now?
Fairly. I don’t have a lot of the things that a lot of the stereotypical grown-ups have in life, like families and careers. But I do feel more grown-up than I was when the book was taking place.
How do you think growing up today has changed since your parents were your age?
As far as our family is concerned, I think there’s definitely some changes, but I don’t think it’s changed that much. I think it’s probably just every generation feels that the next generation is radically different from them. Culturally, it’s definitely different. My mom grew up at a time, in the “living in the American dream” kind of world, in the fifties and early sixties. It’s hard to live the American dream completely seriously now. People absolutely do, but ... at least in the world I live in, it’s a bit less common to think that three kids, two cars and a garage are everything.
Do you feel your generation is actually delaying adulthood?
I think in a certain kind of demographic, yeah. I generally notice [it in]people in middle-class, Canadian families. When my mom was growing up, the expectation was that you’d get married and have kids and get a job that you’d keep. And now, among the people I know, the idea isn’t that you’ll be married with kids and have a job that you’ll keep for the rest of your life. But all that stuff doesn’t really mean anything if you happen to come from a different culture, if you come from a culture where there’s a whole different set of expectations, whether they’re religious or heritage-wise.
Your mom talks about worrying about you. How do your parents’ concerns affect you?
I’d say generally, when you’re younger, your parents’ concern annoys you primarily. If it’s really serious and well-founded, then it does make me second-guess whatever it is I’m doing. I’m aware of the fact that they’re older and they have more experience and they probably have some good advice.
But then, sometimes the things parents worry about aren’t actually the things they worry about. Sometimes parents have their own worries – they’re worried about themselves, or they worry, “Is my son going to be successful?” Sometimes those worries don’t make anything actually work better.
There’s two kinds of worries and they usually get mixed up – one is a very sensible, “maybe you shouldn’t do that” kind of thing, and the other is just kind of a generic worry.
Do you still ask yourself the question: What am I going to do when I grow up?
Yeah. Occasionally, it strikes me that I’m 27 and I’m still not really doing anything with my life, technically speaking. But I found that more and more, if you do really what you want to do, then things work out well. More to the point, things don’t work well when you force yourself to do what doesn’t fit right. I’ve just found as long as I’m doing things that I’m engaged in and that are satisfying, and I’m financially stable, then that works out the best for me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.