Book Review: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter

My Mom gave me the book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now a few months ago. After getting the courage to read it the whole way through I discovered a great deal and it has propelled me to move forward with my life.

The book is by psychologist, Dr. Meg Jay. She seems to have wrote the book after realizing how many of her clients had misunderstandings of what their twenties were all about and found themselves caught in ruts unable to move forward with their lives. My Mom gave me the book to help me get out of the ruts I was in and to get the most from my twenties. She is really into reading and understanding these things through books and has given me books before about finding out what I want to do with my life. I haven’t gotten around to reading most of the books she gave, but I’m happy I made it through this one.

I started reading this book and put it down after a chapter because it freaked me out too much. At the time there was a couple of other things haunted my thoughts and the last thing I needed was to think about how I wasn’t seizing my twenties. After a long hiatus I finally picked the book up and was able to read it all the way through despite the stresses it brought me at times.

The book talks about people’s twenties by examples of Dr. Jay’s clients. They each have something holding them back or making them unhappy. From working crappy jobs to dating crappy people. Dr. Jay explains a great deal of the twenties and how to enjoy them and make a good solid life for yourself.

One of my favorite clients is Ian, the bike mechanic. He doesn’t want to enter the real world (much like myself) and instead is working a job he doesn’t get satisfaction from. He in particular helped me realize that I need to break out of this rut and move on with what I actually want to do.

Ian viewed himself as being in an endless ocean, he didn’t seem to know where he came from and what he did enjoy doing and didn’t have any idea where he wanted to go in life. I felt much the same way, I had tried community organizing and hated it and found myself lucky enough to know how to work on bikes and be able to use that as a backup job. That backup became a real job and I found myself in the very same ocean. Until I had the courage to look at what I had wanted to do before, what I enjoyed as a kid and still enjoy today.

I spent the weekend in my home town stewing about all of this. I talked to old friends and professors and began realizing what I actually want to do with my life, counselling. This is something that I enjoy doing with friends and have been passionate about for a while. This book was instrumental in this realization and it will assure that I take steps towards this goal.

Before all of this I figured I was feeling things no one had felt before and related only to other people trapped in the same situation. But that isn’t true. Everyone who is thirty made it through their twenties and I’m sure they loved it but I’m sure it was also hard for most of them. My Mom reminded me of this fact when she once again told me the story of how she worked at a bank after college. It wasn’t until she took the leap into joining what is now called AmeriCorps that she broke into doing what she enjoyed. I finally understood this story and how difficult (and fun) being in your twenties really is for just about everyone.

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