What does independence mean to young people?

Millennials. The most confusing generation as of yet. They’re changing the way the world works to how the world thinks. We are not only the generation that lives for social media, feels more entitled but we are also redefining what the word independence means to us. A recent sociology study by North Carolina State University that analyzed the lives of 14,000 young Americans aged 18-25 years got interesting findings.(You can check it out here).

Fully independent 

These are the ones who live fully by themselves. They have their own place that they pay for with their own finances. They do not get support from their families. This would mostly apply to those out of college and are employed or have their own hustles going on. They also personally felt independent. Most of us in school are aiming for this.

More or less dependent

If you receive financial support from your family or guardians, which is okay, you are most likely to fall into this group. The study found this group of youngsters still live with their parents and they see themselves dependent. With the current high rate of unemployment, a post-college student might have to live at home for a while as they look for a job. A large percentage of campus students receive financial help from their parents and guardians and some live at home. This does not mean they don’t feel some degree of independence. “I get a monthly stipend as my upkeep from my parents but I still I’m an adult. I can take care of myself when it comes to some things,” says Paul, a Technical University of Kenya student.

Free range

They live apart from their families, have their own finances but the one thing differentiates them from those fully independent is that they still feel an emotional connection to their parents’ home. Who does not miss home every once in a while? It is hard for a young person to truly cut ties with their guardians. Or am I alone in this?


Away from Big Brother housemates, this group of millennials are financially independent, live with their parents but view themselves independent. Typically, such people would be considered dependent but youngsters have a different outlook on life. Margaret, a third-year student at Moi University says,”Independence is freedom, and the context here is financial freedom. This should be every young person’s aspiration but it doesn’t happen overnight so one could still be under their parents’ support but what counts is that they are pushing ends to be independent”. To young people, independence is not viewed in relation to dependence but it is all about moving forward no matter the state you are in.

About Anthony Mbugua

Blogger, writer and a millennial trying to figure it all out. I also like sharing the success of other millennials. Welcome to my world.

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