Day 132: Why 30 isn’t the new 20.

Meg Jay saw her first psycho therapy student in her 20s. Alex was a 26 year old woman who wanted to talk about guy problems and would regale her with stories, telling her 30 was the new 20. Jay agreed at first, until the ‘Aha’ moment when her supervisor told her that while Alex mightn’t marry that particular bad boy, she could settle for the next one.
Jay argues against the current culture of seeing our twenties as a developmental down time. Fifteen percent of the population of the States are in their twenties. 80% of life’s defining moments take place by age 35. The first ten years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you’ll earn. Half of all Americans are married, dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality changes more during your twenties than at any other stage. Fertility peaks at age 28. Our twenties are a time for development, yet this isn’t the message we hear. Researchers call the twenties an extended adolescence, journalists coin names like ‘Kidults’
According to Jay, we need to change the message. Every twenty something deserves to hear these three things:
– Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who you are. Identity capital begets identity capital. She discounts exploration that’s ‘not supposed to count’ as procrastination.
– The urban tribe is overrated. Twenty somethings who huddle together limit who and what they know, how they speak and where they work. The new piece of capital almost always comes from outside the inner circle. Half of new jobs are never posted, so reaching out to your neighbour’s boss is how you get the job.
– The time to start picking your family is now. You may think 30 is a better time to settle down but grabbing whoever you are sleeping with at the right time isn’t the way to go. Be as intentional with life as you are with work rather than just killing time with whoever happens to be around.
Leonard Bernstein once said the way to get things done is to have a plan and not quite enough time. When we tell twenty somethings they have all the time in the world, we lessen their ability to use this time to achieve, Jay tells us. One good conversation can have an enormous effect across the years. Jay has a message for everybody in the audience; don’t be defined by that you didn’t know or didn’t do; you’re defining your life right now.


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