Overview: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now is an extension of Dr. Meg Jay’s acclaimed TED Talk “Why 30 is Not the New 20.” Though you should likely be able to infer what the book is about from these two titles, I’ve included a snippet from the sleeve below:
Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood. Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves.
The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-if we use the time wisely.
Novel Thoughts: This book faced a decent amount of backlash. I’ve seen reviews that criticize Dr. Jay for not being “inclusive” through her “glorification of heterosexual coupledom,” and condemning her “overly-privileged” clients whose parents may still support them in their struggle to “find the perfect job.”
Heads up: this book isn’t for a niche demographic; its not designed for a young man in need of a strategy to climb his way out of poverty, or a 26-year-old female determined to live an unconventional lifestyle.
The Defining Decade isn’t supposed to be a playbook to your perfect life; it’s a reminder that even in this day-and-age of living longer and doing things such as marriage later, treating our twenties as “developmental downtime” delays us in achieving our goals, and ultimately postpones our success. Additional points are as follows:
Full disclosure: I am a 23-year-old white heterosexual female (in case you couldn’t tell already). I didn’t examine this book under the lens of someone in an extreme or minority situation; I read it as someone with big dreams and even bigger goals for myself, and to gain clarity in the role that my twenties will play in achieving them.
Assignment: To all of you early twentysomethings—I challenge you to read this book for yourself (or watch the TED Talk at the VERY MINIMUM). If you do, I’ll send you a free MacBook Pro*. I read this book during my senior year in college, and it was a wake up call; it was my first realization that my habits of partying 6/7 nights a week and fear of commitment in a serious relationship were coming to an end. Not that there's anything wrong with prolonging the bachelor lifestyle a little big longer, of course (if I'm being real, it was mainly my increasing number of two-day-hangovers that ended that life for me).
How many times have you thought back to a time when you were younger, and asked yourself one of these questions?
“If I had worked harder to make better grades in high school…”
“If I hadn’t wasted my time dating that loser for so long…”
“If I had tried harder at [insert sport here]…”
“If I hadn’t given up on my dreams of becoming a [rockstar/actress/professional chocolate taster]…”
Once you finish this book, I encourage you to think ahead to what it is you want to be doing in 5, 10, 20 years—at this moment in time, at least, because if you’re anything like me it’ll change by then (okay, tomorrow)— and brainstorm just a couple of things that you can start doing now that will help you in getting there.
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot me an email. This book definitely changed the way I view my twenties, and I hope it can make a positive impact on you as well.
*I can’t actually send you a free MacBook Pro. I just hit 100 followers, you guys; clearly I’m not making any money off of this (yet!).
*Also, you’re not in fourth grade and I’m not your mother, which means I’m not offering rewards for completing your chore charts.