President's Message

May 05, 2020 6:33 PM | Lisa Gaudette (Administrator)

Dear SSEA members and friends,

A few days ago, I received word that the price of an airline ticket I had purchased had been refunded due to the COVID crisis. The ticket was to Milan for our society’s conference on close relationships in emerging adulthood. The refund reminded me just how much life has changed for all of us in the past several months. Change, loss, isolation, and uncertainty have become common occurrences for many, if not all of us.  As the leadership of SSEA, we express our thoughts and best wishes to all of you.

I have thought a lot about how this crisis has impacted the lives of emerging adults. It certainly isn’t a competition between various demographic groups regarding who has suffered the most but without a doubt the lives of many emerging adults have been affected.  Graduations, weddings, and summer internships have been cancelled or postponed. The job market for graduates is tenuous and many emerging adults have lost their jobs including a disproportionate number of women. Changes and challenges associated with living situations, relationships, finances, summer travel plans, active lifestyles, health, and education plans all weigh on the minds of many young people. Many young people may not see themselves at high-risk for the disease which leads to life-as-normal behaviors that may present concerns for their own health and that of those around them.  Many others are very concerned about the disease and those concerns are taking emotional tolls on them. There are emerging adults who may be particularly vulnerable to the affects of COVID-19 because of their marginalized status and the stigma, bias, and injustice that they may be experiencing as individuals or as part of broader systemic injustice. I worry about them.

In sum, our young people and their families and communities are experiencing a wide range of issues at this time and the effects of the current situation will almost certainly have a lasting impact. As an organization, I believe we should be doing something to help.  As the leading scholarly organization for the study of emerging adulthood, we should be an organization that people can look to for both information and resources, and an organization that can be at the forefront of empirically understanding the impact of the crisis on emerging adults. To that end, we would like to start gathering helpful information from our membership that might be disseminated via our social media channels and website.  More details will be coming in the next few days but we would ask you to begin thinking about how you and your work might help emerging adults, their families, and communities at this time.

Finally, a word of hope and support to all of you at this time. I know that the emerging adults in our membership are not the only ones being affected.  Many of us in higher education needed to shift to remote teaching. Clinicians needed to alter the ways in which they provided services.  Research studies are being compromised in many ways.  With schools and daycare services closing, work-family balance may be more of a challenge than ever before.  In sum, these times are not easy. However, they do not need to be void of hope, joy, and peace. At the end of March, my family was supposed to hold a party to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday.  Instead of an evening of food and celebration together as a family, we had to improvise. Over the phone, I talked my mother through the process of becoming familiar with Zoom (that in itself provided me with numerous laughs and memories as she has only had a smart phone for just over a year and only been texting for a few months so figuring out Zoom was an epic task). Then, on her birthday, we gathered as a family on Zoom and had an evening with my mom during which we asked her numerous questions about her life.  I learned things about my mother that I hadn’t known before. Grandchildren were mesmerized by the stories of life when mom was a child.   Because we recorded the Zoom meeting, we now have a permanent record of those stories. Although an evening of food and laughter would have been fun (and we will still have that in the future with her), we have something much more meaningful; we have a lasting record of my sweet mother sharing some of the milestones of her life that can now be shared with her posterity for generations to come.  As I think about that, I realize it is just one of many sweet silver linings, or, a phrase I like, “tender mercies”, that this situation has provided me and my family.  It is my hope that we can each take a moment to find and recognize precious moments of peace, calm, hope, and joy in the midst of everything else, and, if needed, that we will each be intentional about creating those types of moments. I hope that the result will be numerous tender mercies, silver linings, and gold nuggets of peace and joy for you.


Larry Nelson

SSEA President