The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now is a must-read book for those who are in the “twentysomething” phase and want to make their life better. Meg Jay, who has worked with clients of this age, has discovered some common problems and patterns of behavior that are harmful to them and affect their future. However, the author demonstrates in her book why “twentysomething” years are decisive and what people need to pay attention to in work, love, and self-development to feel success and comfort in their lives.
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Summary of the Book
The main idea of Jay’s book is to demonstrate the consequences of “twentysomething” free culture and ways of preventing and dealing with them. The author uses rhetorical appeals such as ethos and pathos by telling the stories of her patients, which help establish credibility, and the emotions that she describes are conveyed to readers and reflected in their minds. Jay illustrates how young people feel at this age because they miss the chance to build a career, family, and find their place in life. For this purpose, Jay divides her work into three parts, in which she explains the reasons for people’s failures in career, personal life, and self-development.
She also describes the effect of decisions made in this age on the future and advises correcting the situation here and now. These descriptions and explanations are a manifestation of logos, since they establish a clear connection between the error in youth and their influence on the future. In fact, this book is a guideline for young people who begin their independent lives about how to achieve success and comfort with their identity.
Reasons for Misunderstanding of “Twenty Something” Age
In the preface, Jay reveals that many young people feel lost and face tremendous stress at the age of “twentysomething” and give the reasons for this, thereby explaining the importance of this period. The author begins with the story of her patient Kate so that the reader feels the problem itself and the emotions of the person (Jay 9). One can already understand the central message of the book and find himself or herself in Kate’s place after reading the first few pages. However, the author further delves into the history of social trends of recent decades and says that modern society perceives “twentysomething” as a period of unlimited freedom (Jay 12).
Most of the youth during this age try to avoid responsibility: they travel, find temporary work, and look for hookups, instead of a serious relationship. As a result, such a lifestyle becomes a problem closer to their thirty years, since young people do not have something stable that characterizes them as individuals.
The author identifies one of the reasons for such behavior of youth decisions based on parents desire to protect their children from a fate similar to theirs. Other causes are conditions in the labor market and the economic sphere in which young people have to remain optimistic (Jay 14). Jay also emphasizes the words of her patients that their main problem is a too wide variety of options and need to choose specific goals. However, the main point of the preface and the book is the fact that the age of “twentysomething” is crucial for a successful future of people and their mental health and comfort.
The Main Problems of Youth and Their Solution
Kate’s story is a prime example of problems that “twentysomething” people face, and work is one of them. According to the author, many graduates are not inclined to build a career and prefer to take temporary work, which brings them money but not knowledge (Jay 25).
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As a result, by the age of thirty, they have neither a sufficient resume nor work experience that would help them in finding a permanent job. For this reason, Jay focuses on the need to acquire identity capital that “is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time” (21). In other words, the key to a successful career at “thirtysomething” is the gradual accumulation of professional knowledge, skills, and connections during “twentysomething” age. Consequently, young people should choose a job that will bring them the most significant benefit in the future but not just income.
Moreover, Jay also pays much attention to the issue of determining interests and priorities at work, since an unloved job brings stress and other mental problems. The talents and preferences of people are diverse and individual, and often young men or women forget about their dreams under the pressure of the majority and social trends. However, these dreams can be the basis for a successful career, since it is common for a person to devote strength and time to his or her favorite business and achieve significant results. For this reason, young people should not be afraid to delve into themselves and be guided by their desires. A person can focus on a specific area, achieving perfection and avoiding stress, and gradually improve it by understanding his or her strength.
Problems of the Romantic Relationship
In the next part, Jay discusses the topic of love and relationships, which is also the cause of stress and mental problems for many “twentysomething” people. One of the main messages of this part is that a person should not be fearful of starting a serious relationship at “twentysomething”. Modern culture supports and even encourages late marriages, and most young people under thirty prefer occasional hookups and are afraid of commitments. However, after thirty, any dating is perceived as something that should lead to the creation of a family and be done quickly, since social pressure intensifies. Thus, starting a serious relationship at “twentysomething” is reasonable because people will already be able to understand their desires and expectations from marriage, or will be sure in their partner by the age of thirty.
Another issue that also arises from the last statement, since Jay says that before starting a life together or getting married, partners need to know each other fully by immersing in extreme conditions (96). It can be a trip in which the couple is faced with situations that cannot occur on dates. Such a check can save a couple from problems that may later arise at the household level in a few years and destroy the marriage. Jay emphasizes, with these tips, the importance of seemingly insignificant moments that must be detected at “twentysomething” to prevent harmful consequences in the future.
Lack of Self-Development
In the last part, the author reveals the topic of the importance of self-development, since its absence also leads to insecurity and mental problems. Jay submits several issues for consideration, such as the ability to be calm, set goals, and expand the circle of communication. The first factor explains that “twentysomething” people are more impulsive and give up quickly because of challenges, but the ability to stay calm is necessary to make wise decisions and solve problems (Jay 120).
Setting goals is also an essential element as on the way to achieving them, a person develops his or her skills, which he or she needs to succeed after thirty. The importance of having a full circle of connections is also mentioned in part on work, since the more people bring more opportunities for a person to find a suitable job (Jay 31). However, it is also crucial for self-development because a person discovers new things by getting new points of view and interests all the time. The author, with this part, makes it clear that self-development at “twentysomething” reveals many opportunities for a successful future after thirty.
Influence of Public Opinion
Another critical element related to the part “My Life Should Look Better on Facebook”. In the modern world, social networks play an important role in the life of youth as it affects its consciousness daily. However, in most cases, people post only the beautiful and successful side of their lives, which can cause feelings of inferiority in others. The pursuit of ideals often leads to the choice of the wrong path for a person and extreme stress. For this reason, the author recommends “twentysomething” people do not pay too much attention to the successes and fame of others but to choose the way that is close to them (Jay 49). It is essential to accept one’s own identity even if it means the life of an ordinary worker in a small provincial city but not the career of an actor or politician.
Therefore, Meg Jay outlines the problems and fears that “twentysomething” people face and give advice on solving them. The author has discussed a sufficient number of topics to cover the issue thoroughly, and the content of the work is consistent with its title. Jay believes that her book can help young people who feel uncomfortable with their lives to overcome this period and achieve success. These recommendations also are useful for people who only cross the “twentysomething” line, since they prevent them from making crucial mistakes. Therefore, it can be noted that the book is successful both for the author, in particular and for the audience for which it was written, in general.
Jay, Meg. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Twelve, 2012.