New Passages

Outline of New Passages by Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy’s publication New Passages is a sequel to her bestselling book Passages.   Since Passages there has been a transformation in the adult life cycle and a shift in the stages of adulthood.   People are taking longer to grow up and longer to die, up to ten years longer.   The baby boomer generation is throwing out the notion of middle age and charting a whole new second life or adulthood.   These adults are going through new passages finding lives with deeper meaning and creativity.
First adulthood in western culture divided human life into ages and stages with the need for order and predictability.   Until the middle of the 1970s notable events such as graduation, first job, marriage, and children, for most people, occurred at predictable ages.   Since then age norms have changed, people are leaving childhood sooner and taking longer to grow up and much longer to die.   Actual adulthood is not beginning until age thirty, young adults are living at home longer and most baby boomers do not feel like they are completely grown up until they are into their forties.   The population is by and large healthier today because people are taking better care of themselves as they enter old age.   “Already the average healthy man who is 65 today-an age now reached by the great majority of the U.S. population- can expect to live until eighty one” (Sheehy, 1995, p. 6).   These new passages have caused changes so dramatic opening up a whole new world known as the second adulthood in middle life.
Imagine being reborn at the age of forty five, that is the meaning of second adulthood.   There is life after youth, layoff, retirement, menopause, widowhood, and even cancer.   Second adulthood involves the shift from young adulthood, wanting to please and prove yourself, to a sense of controlling what happens in your life.   You yourself must decide what is relevant for your future.   A person may ask themselves how they find a real sense of...