I just finished reading Meg Jay’s book called 20: The Defining Decade where she aims to explain why our twenties matter and how to make the most of that time of your life. I will say that I didn’t particularly turn to this book because I was seeking guidance but it did reinforce and expand my thoughts and add a little inspiration. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist so she knows her stuff and basically talks through how Work, Love and the Brain are different for twenty-somethings.
The main concept that Meg suggests is that us twenty-somethings have to be more intentional. We can’t wait around for things to happen for us later on, we have to make moves towards what we want now, before it’s too late. Your twenties can be a complicated time as you move from the constant routine life of school to then having to decide what you’re doing yourself. School sets out easy timelines and goals to work towards with regular feedback and evaluation then we suddenly become an adult and not really sure what to do with all of this time. But this time is literally where we make all of the decisions that define the rest of our adult life. In no other decade will we develop and change so much so it’s hugely important to explore, enjoy and thrive on our twenties.
What is important to remember as well is that a career is not the only thing we should be taking steps toward. As silly as it may sound, love is a hugely important decision you make around this time and that can define how your life will turn out. Jay does stress that although you may not be with the person you’re going to marry when you’re in your twenties, it is potentially the start of the path towards that decision. Undoubtedly who you marry is a hugely important decision – you’re choosing the person to partner with in life, love, money, family, kids, health etc. so it has to be someone you trust. We generally think that love is something that we can’t control at all and that we should just wait and right person will just magically come around. The thing is though, if you aren’t actively doing something towards the kind of relationship you’re looking for, how will that ‘right’ person be able to find you? Love, like work, requires you making a statement about what you seriously want to happen. It may not be fully in your control but if you don’t make a move how will you ever make progress on finding what you want.
Another one of the main lessons I gathered from the book is to do with our friendships. These days we tend to put a lot of value into having a strong group of close friends, which is great, they provide support and a sense of belonging. But you have to remember not to lock yourself inside your circle. If all you ever do is spend your time with the same people it means you only ever communicate in this short hand way where you can speak knowing how the person will respond to what you say. Exposing yourself to different people with different ideas will allow you to continually grow and expand your ideas. Change is necessary to improve your life, you need new and exciting things to happen, so absolutely treasure your friends but don’t be scared to do things outwith your regular social circle because that is what will excite and surprise you.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who feels like they want to get their shit together but need some logically proposed inspiration. Or to anyone who is just interested in making the most out of their twenties – it is an important, transformative and defining time of our lives so let’s live it to the fullest!