There is no shortage of lessons to be learned and applied from Dr. Meg Jay’s incredibly insightful book/work of art, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make the Most of Them Now. After multiple listens I’ve come to see myself and my peers from a much much deeper perspective than ever before. I’ve come to value myself, abilities, and time more than I ever have; I’ve become much more aware than ever of how my current choices and actions will affect me the rest of my life; I’ve come to understand the meaning of family on a significantly deeper level; and I also have much more insight onto how the things and people we surround ourselves with in this delicate time of our lives come to shape who we are in the later decades for better or worse.
Dr. Meg Jay, an accomplished lecturer and Clinical Psychologist, is what one might describe as a deeply caring and concerned individual for the young and the restless folks in their third decade of life. Dr. Jay, a name that suits her very well in my opinion, has worked with plenty of people my age and much older and has also analyzed important patterns in the studies involving life development that lead to success and failure. This book emphasizes what it means to be in your twenties. The choices you make today while you are so young and able will drastically affect you for years and years to come. So thanks to Buzzfeed (for introducing me to the book) and my large sense of wonder and tendency to seek inspiration everywhere I used this book as much I possibly can to gain an advantage over the real competition I face and to create the life of my dreams.
One of the most important things that stood out to me in this book is hearing about Dr. Jay’s patients who are in their 30s and 40s who wish they had done things differently while they were my age. It was in that moment that I felt so lucky to be as resourceful as I am to find this book. It made me forget all about spending the meager money I had as a starving scientist and undergraduate student hearing exactly what Dr. Jay was telling me to avoid while I’m still so young. It was then, that this book became a priceless asset to me. I learned about how to hustle and the importance of Identity Capital. I learned about how to choose your friends wisely and how relationships in your 20s evolve over time; both good and bad. I learned about how in your 20s you can choose your family and they don’t have to be biological. And last but not least I learned about the dating game and when to put a ring on it; even though I’m single. So as you can clearly see I cannot stress the importance of jewels being dropped in this book. Books are amazing, guys!! Seriously!!
Believe it or not Dr. Meg Jay was once a starving and confused twenty something herself. She was a college grad working at a *company called Outward Bound in a development program for at risk youths. She worked with teenagers and she loved her job and ended up staying there for four years. Four years in which she could have been doing anything else, but this experience ultimately opened a mirage of doors for her later down the road.
In fact, it was a college mentor that opened her eyes to how her time was being spent when Meg mentioned her goals for the future and her mentor’s response was “well what are you waiting for?!” When Meg applied to graduate school the person she was interviewed by was impressed by Outward Bound and saw the potential in her. It was a critical piece of Identity Capital that transformed her life and happiness forever. And it is a testament to how the choices we make affect our lives. Eventually this young sweet hearted person gained a doctoral degree and is now giving people all over the insight they need to make their lives as fulfilling as possible. Thank you Dr. Jay. Tips hat.
Buying Your Way Through Life with Identity Capital
Identity Capital is by far one of the most important concepts of this book. Identity Capital is something that people in Dr. Jay’s field describe as the experience you have both professional and personal that allow you to advance in certain directions in your life. For example, my education at USC and experience working at museums in Philadelphia that involve medicine and science are important pieces of identity capital that I will use in the future to get the jobs I want. These jobs will in turn provide more identity capital that will help go even farther and so on. On the other hand, other forms of identity capital can be how good you are at video games, how much you like to exercise, and other personal attributes that you might be known for. They serve to help people understand and appreciate you. This blog, although it is still technically a hobby and not a job, is an ingenious form of identity capital for me, which I know will pay dividends in the future. I know this because I know myself and respect myself enough to believe in my abilities. To put it simply, the identity capital you collect now will define you forever. Because if you don’t collect the right kinds of identity capital while you are in your 20s you won’t succeed.
Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of people in my life trying to tell me what to do and bring me down. Truth be told, a lot of these people are in my family and closer to me than many may think. And there was even a time in my life when I used to let them because I thought we were family and loved each other. I eventually learned through a series of painful lessons that I was wrong. I couldn’t be any more wrong. The good thing about that is I have Dr. Jay’s amazing book to give me the clarity I need.
In the book Dr. Jay talks about being able to “choose your family” in the twenty something years when she describes a young, intelligent woman she worked with who had serious family issues that left her unfulfilled and dead inside. Her parents were not nurturing although she was by all means a young superstar who paid her dues and lived her dreams. She eventually came to rely on her boyfriend’s family as a supplement but unfortunately that didn’t work out. She sensed her boyf wasn’t ready for marriage, although she found the comfort she longed for in his family. She had to cut him out of the picture. Long story short she started again and eventually found her second chance at family. A happy ending. Now she has an extended family unit who loves and cares for her just as she’s always wanted.
There are plenty of us out there who have to endure excruciatingly painful family issues throughout our twenties. Many of us can’t wait to escape to things like narcissistic abuse, and childhood traumas that get brought up when around family. Others don’t have these issues, or not to as much of an extent, and enjoy loved ones and family genuinely. If you are one of these people please take the time to love your family as much as you can because you are in fact lucky to have them in your life. Either way family is important. Whomever they may be.
So please do yourself a tremendous favor and buy this book. It will help you become the person you desire to be in life. If you’re in your thirties and struggling with some guilt you feel from Dr. Jay’s teachings then it’s about time you stop slowly driving yourself crazy and get your act together. It might be hard, it might be tough, but you can certainly do it if you wanted to.
Thanks for reading.