Thirty is not the new 20.” Crap! That would have been helpful to hear ten years ago. Those were my exact thoughts after viewing Dr. Meg Jay’s 2013 Ted Talk, “Why 30 is not the new 20.”
“Don’t worry, you’re still young,” seems to be the most common advice I hear when I seek support for my single, thirtysomething woes. It’s a response I hear after a rough break-up, to anxiety about being able to start a family, or to financial disappointments. “You’re still young” is supposed to be comforting. The words suggest that there is plenty of time in life to tackle goals, so don’t worry if they seem unobtainable right now – some day they won’t be. Some day…
But isn’t some day just a disguise for procrastination?
According to Dr. Jay, some day is procrastination. “When you pat a twentysomething on the head and you say, ‘You have ten extra years to start your life’… you have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition.” Instead, twentysomethings need to be encouraged to see this time as a developmental sweet spot.
In her book, The Defining Decade, Dr. Jay empowers twentysomethings to “claim your adulthood.” This means doing work that is an investment in who you want to be, branching out beyond your friends to network both professionally and personally, and being as intentional about romantic relationships as you would be about your career.
But what does that mean for me, hearing Dr. Jay’s message ten years too late? According to Dr. Jay, “When a lot is pushed into your thirties, it creates enormous thirtysomething pressure to jump start in a much shorter time.” That’s the truth of the matter. It’s time to apply Dr. Jay’s advice ASAP. Moving forward, I will mentally roll my eyes the next time I hear “you’re still young.” Instead of believing it, I will use those words to remind myself of how intentional I need to be about making my decisions count.
Kate N, MS, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP Counselor, then became a Performance Specialist in 2012. Kate has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Kate is devoted to helping individuals determine how to make lasting changes. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked in the social work field as a case manager for Child Protective Services. Kate enjoys baking, yoga and escaping into the woods of Northern Wisconsin.