“Claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.”
Your 20s is a crucial stage of your adult development – not an “extended adolescence” – so don’t let those precious years idly pass you by in “benign neglect.” Don’t waste your time.
“What do you think happens when you pat a twentysomething on the head and you say, ‘You have 10 extra years to start your life’? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of this urgency and ambition.”
Nonchalance about your 20s reduces your chances of later success and happiness. This state of mind pressures you all at once to launch a career, get married and start a family in your 30s.
“The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.”
To reclaim your 20s, follow these three steps:
#1 “Get some identity capital”
Take immediate measures that will put you on the right path to your ultimate career goal.
#2 “Use your weak ties”
Weak ties are your loose connections and friends of friends – to find new work, love, and life opportunities.
#3 “Pick your family.”
Carefully choose the people you date or with whom you forge friendships rather than killing time with whoever is expedient or available.
“Thirty is not the new 20, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties [and] pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do.”
TED Conferences LLC
Lately it feels as if 25 is just a bit too young to get serious. In her psychology practice, and her book The Defining Decade, clinical psychologist Meg Jay suggests that many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation about what Time magazine calls the "Me Me Me Generation." The rhetoric that "30 is the new 20," she suggests, trivializes what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives.
Drawing from more than ten years of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, Jay weaves science together with compelling, behind-closed-doors stories. The result is a provocative, poignant read that shows us why, far from being an irrelevant downtime, our twenties are a developmental sweetspot that comes only once. Our twenties are a time when the things we do -- and the things we don’t do -- will have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.
Jay is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, and in twentysomethings in particular. She is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. She spent her own early twentysomething years as an Outward Bound instructor.