Recently clinical psychologist, Meg Jay shared during a Ted Talk that 30 is not the new 20, contrary to what many believe, mostly because of Jay-Z’s catchy tune, “30’s The New 20.” It’s become more than a repeated motto, now 20-somethings are taking those words to heart and carrying those carefree days of high school and college into the world into the years of starting adulthood, as if we’re throwing away those young and fun years. Meg wrote a book called, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now,” and in it, she’s offering up her conversation-inspiring outlook on how we should behave in our 20’s and why they matter more than we think.
Many people think that 20-somethings don’t seem to be focused on the future life we have to live, instead we’re just living for moment. I could see this as being partly true. I see it around me, a lot. No ambition, carelessly drifting young women and men who think that their 20’s allow them time to “figure it out.” But with everyone sharing their typically negative opinions on 20-somethings aka millenials, many of us are left wondering–why does everyone have so much to say about the lives of 20-somethings?
This relaxed attitude towards being a young 20-something is leading a lot of people out there following Jay-Z’s misinformed lyrics that 30 is the new 20. According to Meg, it’s not. “30 is not the new 20. Claim your adulthood, get some identity capital. Use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re defining your life right now,” Meg urges the unambitious bunch of 20-somethings who think their time is unlimited.
Meg claims that this isn’t strictly her opinion, these are the facts. She threw out statistics to help put things into perspective. The “aha” moment many adults are searching for typically doesn’t happen until your 30’s. Those “aha” moments help us define who we are and how we’ll live our lives and they typically don’t happen in our 20’s. So there’s one way your 20’s are more significant than you think. They’re leading you to a moment in your life that will set the standard for where you’ll go in life.
As a 28-year-old career woman, I feel as if I’ve had several mini “aha” moments that have helped me navigate the beginnings of my career. While I agree with Meg Jay for the most part, I’m aware that not every 20-something is not an entitled and lazy millennial, idling in a career waiting room. Some of us are well on our way in our careers and focused on becoming as grown as we can before we hit that intimidating milestone that is our 30’s. Many of us aren’t just “wasting our time” with pointless mates, dead-end careers and constant partying. Some of us are focused, but still aware that there’s time to make abrupt changes if we so choose. Everything works well with a balance.
Meg goes on to say that the the first 10 years of your career has an impact on the money you’ll earn. Those first 10 years of your career are usually in your 20’s and those years help to serve as a foundation. What type of foundation would a 20-something have who thinks they have another 10 years to “get it together?”
Meg claims that your 20’s are essential for adult development. Some people call it an extended adolescence, but it is truly a defining age for being grown. The people who are telling us 20-something that we have more time to focus and shape our lives are robbing us of the trivial years we need to be placing our lives in order. This has caused an entire culture of 20-somethings to believe that these 10 years will magically place us where we need to be as adults in our 30’s. That’s just not the case.
What happens when you wake up at 30 and realize your 20’s was an extension of your teenage years?
Here are Meg’s tips for 20-somethings:
- “Forget about having an identity crisis; get some identity capital.” You should be doing something that adds value to who you are. Really take this time you have to discover what your true interests and passions more. This will help guide you in a desirable direction of your life.
- “The urban tribe is overrated.” Friends are great, but your “weak ties”—friends of friends of friends—are where the opportunities are going to come from. Expand your circle and NETWORK!
- “The time to start picking your family is now.” Jay says that the best time to start working on your marriage is before you have one. You don’t have to be married by 25, but stop wasting time and look for what you want now.
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