Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Your 20s Matter … A Lot

The average American doesn't consider him or herself truly "an adult" until about the age of 26. For me that was certainly true - I think I figured it all out at about the age of 27. And I had a marriage, "real job," a house, and a son by the age of 32. In many ways, it all worked out for me, even though I lived a very "twenty-something" lifestyle for the first five years out of college. For me, it was teaching English 20 hours a week in Southeast Asia, and traveling around with little thought about a career. However, the foundation I grew up with led me to build up "working capital" during that time.

Psychologist Megan Jay has written extensively about the conflicts, challenges, and potential pitfalls of our lives between college and "real life." One book I have recommended to many young people is her book, The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter - and How to Make the Most of Them. Some interesting advice - especially for the hook-up generation - is "the best time to work on your marriage is before you have one." The decade should be about figuring out who you really are and what you really believe. It's liberating and challenging, scary and exciting. And it will all be fine as long as we follow the advice of transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau - live deliberately.

As Longfellow advised, "Neither joy and not sorrow is our destined end or way, but to act that each tomorrow find us further than today."


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