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Scoping It Out: Why 30 is Not the New 20

OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/29/13) – Recently, a friend sent me a link from a Ted Talk she thought would be perfect for me to watch. Well, it turns out, it was pretty perfect. Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay convinced me that “30 Is Not the New 20,” and she got me thinking about a lot of things in my life.
 
Meg Jay seemed to be narrowing her thoughts to me when she gave her speech on how 20 year-olds should realize that this time in our lives is a “developmental sweet spot” rather than just a point of downtime until we reach a more mature age. Jay said that neglecting this idea would have real consequences for a 20-something. She explained that a lot of adults that are around kids in their 20s will tell them that they have plenty of time to start a career and to start a family in the distant future and this can often times hinder or rob these people of ambition. Jay said the time to think start thinking and doing is now.
 
There are five million 20-somethings in the United States, making up 15 percent of the population, Jay noted. With those huge numbers, you have to think about the competition out there for the jobs you want but also the relationships you want. I know that with my experience looking for a journalism job this summer; it was hard for me to think about what puts me ahead of everyone else. I had to learn to have the confidence to know that someone might have had a better GPA than me, but I had the spark.
 
Jay explained that whatever you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it. This important time in adult development is for us to get educated on our options. These options should not be explored without responsibility, though. You have to always look at the bigger picture of things. I often have a hard time doing this, because I’m the kind of person that wants everything to be perfect and I want it to be perfect right now.
 
Jay said that research shows 80 percent of the defining moments in your life happen before you are 35, which got me thinking: Have some of them already happened for me?
 
Here some things that I think spoke directly to me from Jay‘s talk:
 
1. Forget about having an identity crisis. Think about having some identity capital and make valuable investments in your life. Investments can mean money, but they can also mean time investments. Making time for people and things that count in your life. I struggle with juggling time with loved ones and work already, and I can’t imagine what the future holds when I’m hopefully in a position of more responsibility. I have to realize now what is important to me: work, friends, family; and how big of a priority I am going to make each one of them. To avoid an identity crisis, be in touch with your goals and morals. What do I want from life and how do I get it?
 
2. Explore work and make it count. Jay noted that the first ten years of employment have an exponential impact on how much money you are going to make in the future; whether you are going to work hard to move up in a company you are already at or switch companies every couple years. Jay said that any exploring of work, though, has to count towards the bigger picture. I think that I have this idea down. Everything I’ve done from high school on, internships, classes, jobs; they have been carefully chosen and calculated to add to my resume for future career choices. I think what I need to work on is not being so calculated, though. Maybe exploring, for me, would be choosing a new hobby…but, I also know that it would be a hobby that I could somehow put on my resume.
 
3. Pick your Family. Jay talked about how the expression “You may not be able to choose your family, but you can choose your friends” is wrong. This is because, in your 20s, every relationship you have, whether friendship or otherwise will be a part of picking your family. Your friends become your family and the relationships you have with significant others can often times become your family, too. Jay said that the best time to work on your marriage is the time before you are even thinking about marriage. I’ve always thought I was so far from that, but Jay got me thinking that I may not be as far away from thinking about it as I thought. So, bottom line, thinking about marriage shouldn’t be taboo to a single person, because everything they do now in their personal relationships will contribute to the relationship they may have in the future.
 
So 30 is not the new 20. 20 is the new 20. And I guess that makes 22 the new 22, which is where I’m at. I learned, from Jay, to live my life, but while doing so also think about my career and relationships. Where will I be at 30? I don’t know. But, what I do know now is that everything I do in my 20s will somehow contribute to where I will be in the future. And that’s a lot to think about.
 
Taylor Riley
SurfKY News
Video provided by www.ted.com
 

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