To suffer and celebrate emerging adulthood. An explorative research on the ritualization of the transition into adulthood among emerging adults with existential anxiety.

  • E.. Spekschoor

Student thesis: Master's Thesis: Humanistic Studies


Although the world we live in is changing, few qualitative studies have been done of its effects on the transition into adulthood for young people, also called emerging adults. Nor is there much insight in how emerging adults cope with its effects. The aim of the present study therefore was to explore the experience of emerging adults with existential anxiety, together with their ritualized acting, when transitioning into adulthood against the backdrop of a changing world. Interviews with ten respondents aged 20-29 were analysed via qualitative content analysis. ‘To suffer and celebrate’ emerged as a common theme and represents both the sometimes distressing experience of existential anxiety and the ritualized acting as way of coping, or celebrating, during the transition into adulthood. The theme contains the most prominent existential anxiety concerns, such as Performance Anxiety, Loneliness, Disruption of Grasp, General Anxiety and Lack of Validation, as well as examples of ritualized acting via three components: Intentions, Activity and Outcome. The findings show that the ritualized acting of the respondents has the potential to reduce anxiety, give a sense of control and enhance feelings of meaning. It is further discovered that the respondents are open to ritualizing to help mark, transition into or celebrate adulthood. The respondents’ suggestion that the concept of the 21 dinner can be an effective celebration is discussed, but not before the seriousness of experiencing existential anxiety is emphasized. Further research is suggested, such as an innovative approach to develop and evaluate ritual designs for the emerging adult, to help them cope with suffering and celebrating their transition into adulthood.
Date of Award1 Jan 2019
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorJ. Wojtkowiak (Supervisor), E. Kuusisto (Supervisor) & A. W. Braam (Supervisor)

Cite this