It's really sad (for me) when someone who is 15 years younger than me seems more grounded and logical than I am... and it happens more than I care to admit!
Having been in that situation myself, and recalling what it's like, let me take a stab at what's going through the younger set's mind, and to follow it through.
Growing up is rough. We've all (at least many of us) done it, and we've likely done it with a minimum of guidance. Our parents will have done their level best to clear a path for us, but the path they cleared was charted by their
experiences which were not the experiences of their children; the child's experiences will, in the modern world, likely be very different from what his parents' were. As the pace of things increases, this gap widens. (This may be a reason why children often see more eye-to-eye with their grandparents than their parents; the grandparents have seen it first-hand and know to make allowances for it.)
So, kicking off on his own, the young adult will quite naturally go into "problem-solving mode" to make sense of the world around him. He will also tend to throw off some of the frivolity of childhood as he struggles to make sense of the seemingly overwhelming world around him. This manifests as a simplification of everything to its barest essentials which eases the problem-solving task - the upshot of this is that what happens looks a whole lot like "conformity", even though it may not really be. Add into the mix, the fact that the young adult, if he has chosen the career route (which is increasingly becoming impossible), needs to prove himself and his skills, and to gain credibility and recognition in his career, both of which he knows will become increasingly important with time. This manifests as rigidity, or at least it can. The young adult is not strapped to the rails, roller-coaster-like, but close; without some form of framework to cling to, making sense of the great morass that's swirling around him would simply be impossible.
Eventually the young adult becomes a full adult, likely around the age of 30 or so ("Never trust anyone over 30!"); the framework that he's held onto during his learning experience is largely unneeded then, and he's free to explore what things are like in free space without the need for crutches or "training-wheels". However, this period of time can be confusing as it requires a different mentality and a different set of tools than what was required during young adulthood. If he's fortunate (or very, very, good), his reputation is reasonably well established, but he knows that he cannot necessarily bank on that for he's still on his ascendency, and he likely grasps that as well. So, some of the tools that were in active use in his younger years remain, albeit in a diminished capacity, and some of the constraints and behaviours carry over -- like conformity and some, albeit now less, rigidity.
Fast forward another several years, and we find our lad in mid-life (which actually occurs "on the way up", not at the beginning of the way down); he's well established (again, if the stars have smiled upon him), has a modicum of security about him, and a reasonably stable and decent life. He's also gained an appreciation that these trappings can be illusory and fleeting; he wants to hold onto them. Here's where the box of conformity starts to close in, and it's not a box that he ever wanted to be inside (having watched what it did to his parents), but finds himself in nonetheless. It comes as a rather rude shock. Here's where "mid-life crises" begin germinating.
By the time most of us reach their late 40s and early 50s, our "star years" are likely behind us. We are established enough -- and "old enough" -- that the world expects some eccentricities to set in. It's too early for senility, too late for a "mid-life crisis", and yet there remains some steam to be let off; creativity needs an outlet, and unless we've been in a creative field that need has likely been neglected. We've also grown somewhat bitter about the world around us. Regret begins to creep in; our friends may begin dying off around us. At this point, we begin to realise that the freedom to create
really is important: that we need to be able to express ourselves. Somehow. By this time, the old framework that served us well in earlier times has largely been discarded; we haven't really become our parents, nor have we become our grandparents -- we are very much our own, and on our own
-- and all of a sudden the world looks like a very big place. Some of us take up painting, music, or poetry (the Arts); some take on second careers or thirds; some go back to school realising that they never did learn all of it (and never will); and some take up the oddball notion of challenging an age-old double standard and start wearing skirts simply because we can and it gives us an outlet for the creativity that's been longing to escape since childhood but which has been safely bottled up.
As I reach the end of my life -- and that could happen today -- I'm comfortable with where I've been, what I've done, and how I've done it. My reputation in my field is intact, which gives me enormous pride and satisfaction, and I have branched out into other ventures as well. When I was a young adult I never imagined turning into an historian of computing; that I'd be running a small piece of the "social media" space (it didn't exist at the time; nor did the Internet, but computer networks did); being sought out to answer technical questions about computers from a half-century ago so they might be restored to running; to have the creative need to branch out from the dull and the drab (I always got my kicks in the highly technical arena); and I never imagined I'd ever wear a skirt in public. Never.
So, here I am, to use MoonShadow's analogy, at "waning gibbous" (or, perhaps "waning half") on my descendency but quite happy with the results. The clouds may close in to finish the job, but I'll take that in stride if it happens. In the end, we all make our mark -- even if others point fingers and laugh at us. We finally -- finally
-- discovered that we had the freedom to shoot for the stars all along, and only in later life discovered the courage to actually do so. 'Tis a shame it takes so blasted long, but these things do.