Around your mid-20s you begin to feel a new impulse: you want to explore who you really are. You want freedom, and the feeling of independence.To do this, you must let go of your parental programming and cultural conditioning and find your own way in life.
If you can transition through the first three stages of development without experiencing any significant trauma or without developing too many subconscious fears, you will find it relatively easy to establish yourself as a viable independent adult in the social and cultural framework of your existence.
So long as you can find opportunities to earn a living that allow you to explore your freedom, and work that gives you autonomy, everything will be fine. If you cannot find work that allows you to be independent of your parents, you will feel demoralized or dispirited.
The task at the individuating stage of development is to find your authentic self. You are finished with being dependent; you are seeking independence. You are no longer looking for the validation of others to feel good about yourself. You want to be responsible and accountable for every aspect of your life; you want to embrace and express your values. Without realizing it, you are dis-embedding yourself from your parental and cultural background and beginning to align the motivations of your ego with the motivations of your soul.
This shift from dependence to independence can be one of the most difficult stages of human development to master because it brings us face to face with our survival, safety and security fears. Many find it difficult to extract themselves from the influence of their parents; others, such as those who live in authoritarian or repressive regimes, may be afraid to express themselves because they know they can be locked up or lose their life for speaking their truth or for being homosexual.
If you were fortunate enough to have been brought up by self-actualized parents; to have lived in a community or culture where freedom and independence are celebrated, where higher education was easily available, where men and women are treated equally, and where you are encouraged from a young age to express your needs and think for yourself, you will find it relatively easy to move through the individuating stage of psychological development.
If, on the other hand, you were brought up by authoritarian parents, if you do not live in a democratic regime, if you are discriminated against because of your gender, sexual preferences, religion or race, and you developed fears about not being able to meet your deficiency needs, you are likely to have difficulties moving through the individuating stage of development.