Alicia Kennedy, 28: In my early twenties, I went straight from living at home into living with the boyfriend I’d been with since I was 16. Marriage wasn’t on the table for political reasons; kids weren’t on the agenda for personal reasons. Those things were never going to grant me the womanhood I couldn’t quite grasp, but our great home, cat, and the dinner parties we threw for friends were what I thought would. When the strain of ceaseless familiarity eventually broke us up after 11 years together, I moved from Long Island to Brooklyn. There I live with a few roommates, never cook, furniture is sparse, and I’m out almost every night. In my late twenties, I’m living more like one would expect of someone younger, but the independence has given me so much confidence—and the ability to comfortably call myself an adult, a woman. Letting go of some of the trappings of what I was told was the perfect existence has freed me from a lot of anxiety, because I hadn’t been happy, and when I perhaps chance upon them again, I will do so knowing that they aren’t what’s essential to a good, adult life.