Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

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When I was in my 20s, I saw my very first psychotherapy client. I was a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology at Berkeley. She was a 26-year-old woman named Alex. Now Alex walked into her first session wearing jeans and a big slouchy top, and she dropped onto the couch in my office and kicked off her flats and told me she was there to talk about guy problems. Now when I heard this, I was so relieved. My classmate got an arsonist for her first client. (Laughter) And I got a twentysomething who wanted to talk about boys. This I thought I could handle.

But I didn't handle it. With the funny stories that Alex would bring to session, it was easy for me just to nod my head while we kicked the can down the road. "Thirty's the new 20," Alex would say, and as far as I could tell, she was right. Work happened later, marriage happened later, kids happened later, even death happened later. Twentysomethings like Alex and I had nothing but time.

But before long, my supervisor pushed me to push Alex about her love life. I pushed back.

Written By: TED
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    • In reply to #2 by finchfinder:

      I feel this is a bit irrelevant for this site. Too much ‘accomplishment, identity crisis and career’.

      Headline: Meg Jay looses career giving ‘twentysomething’ advice to schoolkids.

      Make a schedule to get your life together before 25 – that’s when your wee brains become big whale-sized adult brains. That’s all you need to know about human lifespan development… lol!

  1. Hell NeoD- I can tell you that 66 is not even the new 64. I used to carry a card that read, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Can’t even remember the last time that was true.

  2. I know I’m far from “normal” when it comes to relationships, but I’ve never understood the attraction so many people have of being in a relationship “that doesn’t count” – people in a relationship who even live with each other but know it’s not serious and won’t last. Why????

    • In reply to #5 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      I know I’m far from “normal” when it comes to relationships, but I’ve never understood the attraction so many people have of being in a relationship “that doesn’t count” – people in a relationship who even live with each other but know it’s not serious and won’t last. Why????

      It means when you stuff it up it’s not your fault. Because it wasn’t serious. Don’t have any aspirations and you can never fail.

      Michael

      • In reply to #7 by mmurray:

        It means when you stuff it up it’s not your fault. Because it wasn’t serious. Don’t have any aspirations and you can never fail.

        I appreciate that point, but I don’t see why they’re in a relationship at all if it doesn’t really mean anything. Haven’t they got better things to do?

        I have a younger friend who’s a perfect example of this. She’s in her mid-twenties, and she changes boyfriend about every 6-12 months. We all know that her choice of boyfriend (so far) never has any hope of making a lasting relationship, yet she often moves in with them and lives as if it’s a serious committed relationship. She’ll declare that she’s now “settled down”, and acts as if her new boyfriend is the love of her life, but we know it will never come to anything, and immediately upon ending one relationship she’ll be straight into the next. It’s like the musical chairs scenario mentioned in the video. I just don’t see the point of it at all. If you’re not serious about someone, why act as if you are?

  3. Nonsense, just-so, presumptious, nu-dogma.

    I hate this new-puritanism that misses the point of our difference, that denies that culture, to make progress, solve new problems, must have diversity, edge-dwellers often more in love with their own ideas than their own genes. My heroes would not be so for the most part following her advice.

    My genius bother, married too young, sadly urged me to not follow his path, to go and play. I did, not reaching adulthood until 34, and regretted not a minute. I am hugely content, father of two brilliant kids, all distracting itches scratched a huge repository of experience to keep me warm into my old age.

    If you take advice, take it from those who know you….unless its my advice, which is only this- It ain’t necessarily so. Check your options.

    We need as many different experiments as possible. A strong culture is diverse.

  4. I’m not sure why this is here either. Cliff Notes version — We all try to do the best we can knowing what we know.

    On one hand, yes if you live with purpose early on, that positive foundation will effect you for decades to come. I don’t know many people who blew off opportunities in their twenties because they figured they had plenty of time. Absolutely, we should “seize the day” or seize an opportunity that presents itself at any age, but many still are trying to figure themselves out, are building on a weak childhood/teen foundation, have had poor role models, have been limited by previous opportunities/religion/society, physical limitations, etc. You can only do better if you know better. If I knew what I know now at nearly 50, my life would be entirely different – only if I was able to act on that wisdom. By saying make better choices, live with intention, that assumes that all twenty-year-olds know better and are intentionally not doing it. I wonder how differently her life would be if she got the arsonist instead of the fairly normal person with typical problems.

    In an attempt to tie this topic in with this site, there is something to be said about women waiting longer to have children. (I wonder if the rise in autism and other disorders is related to being an older parent.) I never had kids and I know lots and lots of women my age who have either never married or do not have children. I foresee a future societal challenge with this reality and have even heard a few people start to address concerns. We don’t have an emergency number when we get older. As a species, the older generation played a role in a child’s upbringing. then in turn the younger generation would care for the elderly. Childless women my age are advised to take extremely good care of their health, get insurance for long term assisted care and network with other childless women, and to start fostering relationships that will become an “emergency contact.” Knowing this, would I have changed anything I did in my twenties?—–I couldn’t have. I did the best I could knowing what I knew and dealing with I had at the time.

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