What’s So Special About Your 20s Anyway?

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This is a guest post by my wife, who is a much faster reader than me. 

I first discovered Meg Jay when I was on kick watching TED talks. I found her talk, “Why 30 is not the new 20,” (see video below!), so engaging and clearly stated that my husband bought me her book for Christmas so that I could keep digging into the topic of the importance of your twenties.

As a twentysomething, I was interested to learn what’s so special about this decade of my life. The quotes below from Meg Jay’s book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now (Twelve, 2013), are a sampling of her answer to my question “what’s so special about your twenties anyway?”. It turns out: A LOT!

  • “Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five” (xiv).
  • “A colleague of mine likes to say that twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plan is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest” (xxx).
  • “’Not making choices isn’t safe. The consequences are just further away in time, like in your thirties or forties’” (40).
  • “As a twentysomething, life is still more about potential than proof” (62).
  • “By the time we reach our twenties, the brain has gotten as big as it’s going to be, but it is still refining its network of connections” (139).
  • “Twentysomething plans help us think across the years and decades ahead” (141).
  • “’Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.’-Dale Carnegie, writer and lecturer” (156).
  • “We now know that, of any time in life, our twenties are our best chance for change” (166).
  • “Feeling better doesn’t come from avoiding adulthood, it comes from investing in adulthood” (170).
  • “Compared to their twentysomething selves, women are about half as fertile at thirty, about one-quarter as fertile at thirty-five, and about one-eighth as fertile at forty” (180).
  • “’There is a big difference between having a life in your thirties and starting a life in your thirties’” (194).

Our twenties matter. The decisions of what job to take, what career field to enter and work to get into, and whether or not to pursue an advanced degree (and if so in what and where), matter. Who you date (or don’t date) matters because it can affect who you end up marrying and choosing to partner in life with. Meg Jay covers these professional and personal aspects of life well in the sections “Work” and “Love” of her book. She stresses how decisions made (or not made) in your twentysomethings significantly affect the trajectory of your life. She also presents very compelling biological information about how, physically, our twenties are a unique time in her section “The Brain and the Body.”

I loved The Defining Decade. If you’re in your twenties or have a loved one in their twenties, you should definitely read this book! It’s inspiring and motivating. I think Meg Jay would agree that her book is a call to action written for twentysomethings encouraging us to not put things off for later but really seize our twenties.

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