Becoming an adult isn't easy, but Jennifer Tanner wants to help.
Tanner, a psychologist who researches and specializes in working with young adults, is cohosting a support group aimed at reaching out to 20-somethings in the village and surrounding areas. She will be joined by Dr. Steven Wruble, a child and adult psychiatrist.
According to Tanner, the group is both an outlet for an age group without many options for support and a venue to provide emerging adults with a compassionate view of their peers.
"[Early adulthood] is not party time," she said. "There are fewer responsibilities, but these people aren't slackers. They aren't avoiding life. They're trying to find their traction."
Tanner feels that people between 18 and 29, "emerging adults," are sometimes unfairly portrayed as narcissistic or unwilling to grow up, and that such labels are disrespectful and possibly damaging.
"There isn't a lot of downstream respect for emerging adults," she said. "People think they aren't worrying about important things, but they are. I want to help people deal with growing up."
Tanner hopes to discuss and normalize the struggles of the age period, such as the trend of taking longer paths to adulthood than previous generations.
"People in the '50s and '60s transitioned into adulthood very quickly," she said. "They had it all—job, marriage, house—within about three years. What we are seeing now is that the path to adulthood is more elongated, more individualized. People are taking a longer, more unique road, and it can be really curvy."
Tanner also hopes to discuss management of expectations in the face of reality, an issue that may be of concern to emerging adults in Ridgewood.
"Being financially self-sufficient is a big part of emerging adulthood," she said. "People growing up in more affluent areas like Ridgewood grow up with a higher standard of living, and as a result the bar is so much higher, the distance between where you start and where you expect to be much greater."
According to Tanner, the group hopes to alleviate the isolation that many emerging adults feel without making excuses for them.
"I'm not here to say ' This isn't your problem,'" she said. "There are no quick fixes. People still have to deal with it."
The group, which will hold its inaugural session tonight, aims to provide people in their 20s a forum for communication and support with the assistance of professionals along with helping to identify life goals and discuss challenges of the age group.
"The big challenges are real, and we can provide the tools to help organize people's lives," Tanner said. "We want to make people feel better about what they are going through, or at least make it less stressful, less confusing."
The support group lasts for six weeks, meeting Mondays at 7 p.m. from May 17 until June 21. Meetings will be held at the Venn Center at 1250 East Ridgewood Ave. The sessions costs $150. Interested parties can register here.