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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter - And How to Make the Most of Them Now

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Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood. Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-if we use the time wisely. THE DEFINING DECADE is a smart, compassionate and constructive book about the years we cannot afford to miss.


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Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood. Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-if we use the time wisely. THE DEFINING DECADE is a smart, compassionate and constructive book about the years we cannot afford to miss.

30 review for The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter - And How to Make the Most of Them Now

  1. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    I feel so conflicted about this book. I really, really wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. Like many others, I was impressed by her Op-Ed piece and pre-ordered the book, thinking that it would have more for me (I'm almost 29 and a *half*!), and that it would more objectively discuss social phenomena such as cohabitation and divorce. On the one hand, Meg Jay has some pretty good career tips and makes some good points regarding time. While Dr. Jay only pays lip service to the reces I feel so conflicted about this book. I really, really wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. Like many others, I was impressed by her Op-Ed piece and pre-ordered the book, thinking that it would have more for me (I'm almost 29 and a *half*!), and that it would more objectively discuss social phenomena such as cohabitation and divorce. On the one hand, Meg Jay has some pretty good career tips and makes some good points regarding time. While Dr. Jay only pays lip service to the recession and the changing nature of work - which I saw as a significant problem in the book - there are some good, concrete suggestions, though they are tempered by assumptions about "20somethings" wanting to "hide" with bad jobs because they are callow youths who are just too darn afraid of themselves. I think she also over-relies on the importance of networking. I'd still shove this into the hands / face / Kindle of people I know who are not being proactive about work, but they represent a minority among my friends who are out of work. This book is full of assumptions that frankly offended me. I don't know anyone who is working a McJob because they want to, and her composite descriptions of clients often came across as condescending or even slightly judgmental. Her clients seem to be so privileged that I had a very hard time relating to any of them. There was so much of a cautionary tone in her writing that I felt like I was watching one of those after-school specials or 50s classroom films where the characters only exist to be shamed by the narrator. "See Jane. Bad, bad Jane. Jane doesn't know that working at a coffee shop is bad and she should be dating for keepsies! Jane doesn't realize her ovaries will automagically self destruct on her 35th birthday! Bad, bad Jane. Also she is on Facebook WAY too much. Tsk. Don't be Jane." I have never met anyone who thinks an entire decade of their lives is for "practice," although apparently all of Dr. Jay's clients do. Then I remembered that most of the people I know who are my age in the US don't have health insurance and can't afford a therapist anyway, so that was probably why. Regardless, I think Dr. Jay did a poor job of making her clients, or a lot of her argument, meaningful to those of us who are stuck where we are simply due to terrible economic circumstances, and it seemed really dishonest of her to not acknowledge that her clientele is obviously a very wealthy subset of 20-somethings. She's not an economist, but the book would have been vastly enriched by a deeper study of the larger socio-economic contexts that have changed what this decade of life means at this point in time. More troublingly, this work is almost totally heteronormative and assumes that everyone just wants kids, but they're too immature to realize it (and don't you think immature people make the BEST parents?). While Jay has some good points, she only acknowledges in one or two places that not everyone in America wants a house, a spouse, and 2.5 kids. And it's not just because millennials are so darn fickle, it's becuase not everyone is straight and not everyone wants children - and plenty of my friends can't even get married due to backwards laws. The book would have felt a lot more honest if she had acknowledged that being child free / gay is a valid life path. Yes, she makes some good points about people not realizing that real life started about 5 years ago, but it doesn't balance out the overall exclusivity of what she's saying, for me. I also found the lengthy discussion of basic brain anatomy to be rather useless. Anyone who has ever heard of Phineas Gage or taken Psychology 101 would not get anything new out of those sections, and they felt like cop-out filler: "Your BWAINZ aren't even developed! Poor widdle kidults!" If her target audience is as putatively mature as she argues, then just give a paragraph or two and point the astute reader to more resources. Finally, and perhaps most seriously, as someone who is mere months away from 30, I left the book feeling like I had read a several hundred-page scolding (and I don't even think my 20s have been as screwed up as most people). It is a serious issue with the book that the target audience is very narrow: the book is really intended for privileged people aged about 23-26. It would have been nice to address those who were reading this book very late in their 20s to avoid making it seem like the author was telling us our lives were hopeless becuase we failed to find the perfect spouse / job in our 20s. Maybe it's true that my life is hopeless, but I sure didn't want to pay to read that! So, overall, if you are straight and privileged, if your parents are subsidizing your poor career choices and you are young enough to self-correct according to Dr. Jay's recommendations, you will probably like this book and you will be able to feel pretty good / smug about yourself for a few years. If that isn't you, this book offers very little. tl;dr:: Wanted to like this, found a few useful things, but the narrow audience and condescension throughout detracted from the book so significantly that I am not sure I could recommend it to most people.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debby

    I don't think this book would've resonated with me in my early 20's as it does now in my late 20's. In my early 20's I was absolutely a go-getter - got a job immediately out of college, was in a relationship with a man I thought I was going to marry and I thought babies would come in due time. I had a 5-year plan and was on the fast track towards all of that by age 30. I would've scoffed at this book, saying why would I need this type of advice when I have everything going for me? Along the way, I don't think this book would've resonated with me in my early 20's as it does now in my late 20's. In my early 20's I was absolutely a go-getter - got a job immediately out of college, was in a relationship with a man I thought I was going to marry and I thought babies would come in due time. I had a 5-year plan and was on the fast track towards all of that by age 30. I would've scoffed at this book, saying why would I need this type of advice when I have everything going for me? Along the way, I got a couple new jobs which have opened up my eyes to the real world and got my heart broken for the first time, and thats when I began to drift and lose my way. I gave up timelines, thinking that they would get screwed up anyways and decided to just live in the now. Now at 28, I feel like I've just gotten my bearings again and I'm starting to re-focus and figure out what it is I want - and need - now that the thirtysomething years are creeping towards me. What struck me was how much I could identify with all her mini case studies. As a fearless twentysomething, I always thought I had time to figure out things later. And later has now caught up with me and I find myself starting to feel anxious about the 3 topics she focuses on - Work, Love, Body. As I was reading the stories, I realized how much I didn't want to be a thirtysomething and fortysomething playing catch up from my twenties. I have a lot to think about now that I've finished the book. But I'm excited, because I'm now looking forward to finishing off my twenties with a bang!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    Disclaimer: I am a single urban-dwelling female in my mid-twenties, and those attributes have definitely shaped my opinion of this book. And when I saw Kay Hymowitz's glowing recommendation on the back of the book jacket, I knew that I was in for a frustrating read. The very day I read this book, The Billfold had a blog posting critiquing Jay's work, and between the review of Mike Dang (The Billfold) and Goodreads reviewer 'M' (below), I don't have much to add to their comments. Dang's review, i Disclaimer: I am a single urban-dwelling female in my mid-twenties, and those attributes have definitely shaped my opinion of this book. And when I saw Kay Hymowitz's glowing recommendation on the back of the book jacket, I knew that I was in for a frustrating read. The very day I read this book, The Billfold had a blog posting critiquing Jay's work, and between the review of Mike Dang (The Billfold) and Goodreads reviewer 'M' (below), I don't have much to add to their comments. Dang's review, in a nutshell: "Basically, Dr. Jay doesn’t like it when young people say they’re just going to let life take them wherever it takes them. She wants them to think about what they want, and to start making decisions about how they’re going to get there. Of course, we live in a time when it is very difficult for a lot of people to get a job. So, what about that, Dr. Jay?" And the last part, I think, is the most crucial. Jay did her research before the recession really took hold, and I find it absolutely galling that she has the nerve to say that "twentysomethings who hide out in underemployment, especially those who are hiding out because of a lack of confidence, are not serving themselves," (160) as if underemployment is a GOAL of twentysomethings who would rather just have fun. And that underemployed twentysomethings are more likely to drink heavily. While I can imagine this is true for some, how does an underemployed twentysomething find the money to pay for their drinking? Had Jay's research taken place in 2011 and 2012, I'd like to believe that her denigration of the underemployed would be tempered with the reality of just how hard it is to find a job in your twenties. Sure, we use her networking tips and advice to seek out 'weak ties' to find jobs, but sometimes, those just don't work, leading to underemployment. (Assuming, of course, that you're fortunate enough to not be considered overqualified for many jobs.) She fails to incorporate the structural issues that underpin so much of the contemporary twentysomething experience: the expectation that you need to earn a graduate degree to even begin a career, leading to entering the work force at a later age; the resulting student debt that makes buying a house or starting a family almost impossible; the fact that there just aren't jobs out there, no matter how hard twentysomethings try; or if you're lucky enough to land a job (or two, just to make ends meet), you're usually working so hard that meeting people to marry (as if that's the ultimate goal in life) is incredibly difficult. When you're competing against people with significantly more experience who are willing to work for low wages, why should a company hire you? (Which feeds into Peter Cappelli's structural analysis of the job market and hiring patterns...) It's a terrible trap that twentysomethings are in, and Jay fails to recognize--or even give lipservice to--just how hard is it for a twentysomething to even get started these days. (And yes, I've read all the articles about generational differences, the struggles of previous generations, that the modern generation isn't special, etc. I understand the history, but that doesn't mean that twentysomethings of today do not have the right to speak on their frustrations at the current economic and social condition.) And then the glorification of heterosexual coupledom, as if that is the ultimate goal for every twentysomething. We read the standard biological clock rhetoric, the fearmongering about fertility, the statistics about older parenting, feeding on the fear that you need to find someone NOW or else you'll be alone FOREVER. "Being single while you're young may be glorified in the press, but staying single across the twenties does not typically feel good. A study that tracked men and women from their early twenties to their later twenties found that of those who remained single--who dates or hooked up but avoided commitments--80 percent were dissatisfied with their dating lives and only 10 percent didn't wish they had a partner." (172) I'm sure Kay Hymowitz has something to say about that... There's precious little in here (but for a few throwaway lines) about the options for gay/lesbian couples or for people who wish to remain childfree--those options are almost completely off Jay's research radar. And with her case studies of largely privileged twentysomethings, this book is certainly not universally applicable. Jay attempts to rebut "the Tyranny of the Should" (46)--that we 'should' be in grad school, that we 'should' be taking exotic vacations (ha!), that we 'should' have a perfect life. She says that all of these are ridiculous...which, I'll admit, is true. But then she spends the rest of the book telling us how we should actually live our lives. Ironic. She replaces one kind of 'should' with another--her opinion--and this may not be the way we wish to live. She does, however, provide a few pearls of wisdom that I found useful: * "Twentysomethings who don't feel anxious or incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed." (147) * "Tough days [at work] were just winds blowing by and that work was not as personal as [the case study] imagined it to be." (154) * "Our personalities change more during the twentysomething years than at any time before or after." (166) So very true.

  4. 5 out of 5

    o

    Technically I think my review is "spoilery", so I'd advise not reading it if you want to read the book without influence from my opinion. I do not consider myself an authority in anything, and this review is simply my incoherent rants about things that made me upset, for my own reference. It's also pretty long. Anyway. This book made me really, really, really fucking angry. Don't get me wrong, I understand what Dr. Jay's purpose for writing this was: trying to empower twentysomethings and help t Technically I think my review is "spoilery", so I'd advise not reading it if you want to read the book without influence from my opinion. I do not consider myself an authority in anything, and this review is simply my incoherent rants about things that made me upset, for my own reference. It's also pretty long. Anyway. This book made me really, really, really fucking angry. Don't get me wrong, I understand what Dr. Jay's purpose for writing this was: trying to empower twentysomethings and help them realize that the decisions they make now effect them for the rest of their lives. Not every aspect of this book was rage-inducing; in fact, I quite enjoyed the segment on Facebook, and how what young people present on the site is an amplified, superficial version of their actual lives. I also enjoyed some of the advice concerning work & careers - even in your twenties, if you have a specific profession you are aiming for, it is important to formulate goals and move forwards. While I don't especially agree with Jay's assertion about part-time jobs such as retail or barista work being detrimental on a resume (honestly, I think future employers would be much more accepting of a job at Starbucks than a year of unemployment), I CAN agree that getting part-time work related to your selected field (even if it is temping or freelance) helps with focus and develops your knowledge of said field. I can even see the usefulness in the networking advice she provides. The two stars attributed in my review are for these good portions of the book. However... There were many aspects of The Defining Decade that rubbed me the wrong way and straight into disgust. Here are some of my biggest bones to pick: 1. Jay's "clients" that she uses as examples throughout the book are predictably selfish, stupid, and vapid to the point it almost seems TOO formulaic. Being 22, I am fully aware of how juvenile and present-orientated my age group can be, but it would be wrong to say that we all suffer from some stupid hangup, which this book seems to suggest: there aren't any examples provided without the intention of causing the reader to shake their head a la "What an idiot, they have no perception of how the world works." Yes, we are young. Yes, some of us make terrible choices. But I refuse to believe that everyone is as clueless as the clients in this book. Even though this book uses words like "likely", "usually", and "possibly", this book doesn't characterize twentysomethings in a good light whatsoever. I think it's a real shame. 2. Going along with that, the examples she uses all fit the same boring mold - these people are young, attractive, and have SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL iftheycouldonlyseetheerroroftheirways! D: Lol. I'm sorry, but there are plenty of twentysomethings, and thirtysomethings and fortysomethings... out there who will always work at Starbucks, or fast food, or jobs that this book characteristics as "unfulfilling". Not everyone has huge goals, or... Wait... Wait for it... the resources, family situation, or talent to achieve huge goals. There are plenty of young people who want to be actresses/actors, and have been dreaming about it since they were children, and have no talent in acting. Or they can't afford to drop everything to move to Los Angeles and actively pursue that dream. The book brings up these examples of people who work in dead-end jobs because they want to. Uh, what. Let's get real. Not everyone is going to reach their full "potential". It's horrible, and I hate it, and if I personally could guarantee success for everyone in this world I would. And maybe, just maybe, people are working at Starbucks because they desperately need the money and there isn't anything else available, not because they're "hiding" from something. I can understand why Jay chose these particular clients, because they are inspirational and help readers who are unsure where to start. But I found myself giggling and yawning every time I read: "I wish I could go to grad school but I've taken too much time off!" said the forlorn twenty five year old waiting tables instead of having a real job. But little did she know that within a year she'd be halfway through her program at Brown. HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE. I DON'T REMEMBER GETTING INTO GRAD SCHOOL BEING A WALK IN THE PARK. OR THAT EVERYONE IS EASILY OFFERED AN AMAZING JOB BY WORKING HARD. Oh, and did I mention that everyone in this book is straight (or at least implied to be)? She mentions gay couples in the fertility section briefly, but the relationship conflicts in this novel are exclusively heterosexual. 3. The fertility bit. Oh yes. That thing. Like, maybe some people out there never made decisions about having children because they thought they'd never meet anyone. (Yes, this is an actual belief that people hold.) Wow, by the time they actually "married", it was too late to have children. Are they still at fault? Or maybe, some people want to wait until they meet their spouse before they make the decision - some people are simply NOT parent material. You can love someone, and be aware that the person that you love wouldn't be the best parent. I don't think this is a stupid reason to delay making a decision on children. (oh, by the way, Dr. Jay, I can't have children at all. I'm 22, and I have a nonexistent uterine lining, through no fault of my own. So I fail to see how your preaching can be applied to everyone, that we all need to "hurry up and make some babies!" There are countless women with PCOS and other diseases who can't have children at all, even if they'd like to. Age is NOT the only factor for infertility, and from reading this book, you'd think it was the main reason.) 4. The story about the client Danielle bothered me. From Dr. Jay's descriptions of her panicking and obsession with control, it seemed pretty obvious to me that Danielle may have some form of anxiety disorder. Especially when Danielle herself mentioned the same emotional upheaval and instability in regards to an old ex-boyfriend. People with anxiety disorder have... A medical disorder? I mean, if Danielle is expressing the same worrying and fears on two different aspects of her life, i think it might go a bit further than: "Danielle was a worrier, but learned to put down her roots." People with anxiety may require lifelong medication and therapy, because they simply interpret information differently. I don't think Danielle was choosing to worry - from the description, it sounded like her fears were invasive and obsessive. Those invasive thoughts will probably return again, several times over the course of a person's life. I don't think that combating anxiety, or other emotional disorders, is as easy as acquiring a new worldview. Brain chemistry can play a big part. Tl;dr While this book is certainly well-intentioned, while reading I find several messages that are being sent to the twentysomething set are problematic, and in some cases, do not address the variety of factors that can influence the actions and thoughts people make and have.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Monica

    This is a fascinating and informative psychology book. I couldn’t have chosen a better moment to read it - I was in the right mood for it and I needed it, besides. I am turning twenty-three in June. I’m happy with the number and where I am currently in my life, though it’s hard to believe sometimes that I started reviewing books at sixteen and here we are today. I especially needed to read this book because, honestly, sometimes I don’t know if I’m wasting my twenties or doing something really goo This is a fascinating and informative psychology book. I couldn’t have chosen a better moment to read it - I was in the right mood for it and I needed it, besides. I am turning twenty-three in June. I’m happy with the number and where I am currently in my life, though it’s hard to believe sometimes that I started reviewing books at sixteen and here we are today. I especially needed to read this book because, honestly, sometimes I don’t know if I’m wasting my twenties or doing something really good for my future. With this book, I was looking for either confirmation or ways to improve my twenties. I’m finishing my bachelor’s this semester, then starting a master’s in the fall. I’ve been working pretty much without break for five years and sometimes I like to plan ahead so much that I’m wondering whether I’m enjoying my twenties enough. Well, according to Meg Jay, I’m fine. At least in the work department. She explains that our twenties basically set the tone for our thirties and later. That there is tremendous potential for change during this period of our lives and that if we play our cards right, right now, we will soar in our futures. But if we spend our twenties out in bars or going from job to job—the kind that has no link to our future careers—we will spend our later years making up for this wandering around. She also discusses love. Apparently, one must plan when they want to have a kid in their twenties and understand the risks of wanting one in our thirties or forties. On this topic, she became personally invested so I call bias since she clearly had a point she wanted to prove at all costs, but what she says makes sense, biologically speaking. More chances of falling pregnant in our twenties and not miscarrying. Bottom line: It would be a good idea for me to be in a relationship soon, not just because I need to start thinking about the possibility of a future family but also because, according to this book, people who commit are happier. That is pressure right there. I cannot focus on developing a meaningful relationship with someone while going to university full time and working part time and still having time for my hobbies. This is more information than I needed to share but I also don’t think I’m the only one going through something like this and while I quite enjoyed reading this book, I don’t believe one should rush to check every item Meg Jay suggests one should accomplish during their twenties. Cheers. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I like the overall message of the book: Your life, even at your twenties, means something, so make the best of it. I fully believe that people, no matter what their age should not waste away their life by partying all the time and practicing bad habits. Goofing off every now and then is perfectly fine, but making a career out of it is pointless unless you get paid for it and you find it fulfilling. Therefore, this review may be a bit biased. With the basic message out of the way, I do think the a I like the overall message of the book: Your life, even at your twenties, means something, so make the best of it. I fully believe that people, no matter what their age should not waste away their life by partying all the time and practicing bad habits. Goofing off every now and then is perfectly fine, but making a career out of it is pointless unless you get paid for it and you find it fulfilling. Therefore, this review may be a bit biased. With the basic message out of the way, I do think the audience is limited to people who have access to resources and opportunities, mainly the middle class and upper class. I think the same basic message is viable for all classes, but people of lower classes who don't have access to internships or college may have a harder time connecting with Jay's clients. Jay backs up all her claims with psychological research that most college students learn in basic psych. While having Jay repeat the same information I've already learned is kinda boring, it is interesting to see how she applies the research. I've read a few reviews and comments on her articles and books, and basically, they complain that her book is too conservative and that she claiming causation instead or correlation. I don't think she's that conservative or confusing causation with correlation. She uses caution and subtle sentences in explaining the difference, but that's how I would expect every psychologist/psychiatrist to react. Her book centers on research and experience in her practice, not on ideology or politics. The major problems people have with her book are probably more due to a limited research/experience with those certain situations rather than her general principles. By adding her clinical experiences, she means to illustrate the research and her ideas in real life, which works. However, some people may not realize that case studies are specific instances in which it works a certain way for one person. Things may go differently for someone else. That's why when reading her case studies of people, you have to be careful to understand the general idea and not concentrate too much on the details. I know that seems kind of backwards since a case study focuses on specific details and it's not valid to use generalizations from one case study to another, but for the sake of understanding her argument, I suggest you break that scientific rule and go with the flow. She's using the case studies as examples and not scientific proof. I do think that Jay did a better job on the work issues of her book and that's the section I find more accessible than any other section. However, her other discussions of topics have validity, especially the fertility subject. Some people may not have kids, so they can breeze over the section if they wish, but I think she spends a lot of time talking about fertility is because it's something couples need to talk about: if they want kids, when they want them, possible fertility problems--I think it's important for every couple to talk about even if they don't want kids just in case birth control fails or an accident happens. I also fully agree with her on being in good relationships all the time and not staying with someone who's a deadbeat. Humans are creatures of habit and someone may get stuck in a bad cycle of relationships if he or she is not picky about whom he or she dates. My only real issue with the book is that it's too future oriented. Yes, it's important to plan for upcoming events, but at the same time, if you're not enjoying your life now or you're so stressed about the future, you can't realize what's in front of you and something's not quite right. I wish Jay would've spent a bit more time talking about the past, present, and future, but she didn't really connect them too much. She sort of blames twentysomethings for being too present oriented, which is funny 'cause I'm twenty and think she's too future oriented to the point where she forgets to tell people to enjoy their current situations. I think her book would have a better tone if she said something along the lines of, "Hanging out is nice and it's important to treasure your friends, but don't forget you still have future goals to achieve. To achieve them, you need to make sure you're taking steps in that direction earlier in your life rather than later." Another issue I have with this book is saying how bad off thirtysomething and fortysomething people are. They're not all bad off. We can learn from older people's mistakes, but I don't think they should be berated for choosing to do things later in life. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. However, by using poor decisions of older people, Jay is emphasizing her point that it's better to start planning when you're young, which I kind of agree with. She crosses a line sometimes when she speaks about her older clients. I know she's trying to point out how later decisions affected them, but at the same time, it comes close to almost wagging her finger at them when they've already suffered enough. Sometimes, Jay's writing feels like a mother/aunt/teacher who can just give you a look and you know you're doing something wrong. I don't necessarily feel like it's condescending, but it does make me wonder and ask questions about my life. Based on other psychology books I've read, I know her advice is relative based on the situation, but it's strong advice. If you get anything out of the book, I think it should be this: Your life matters, so make the most of it by taking deliberate actions earlier than later, especially in the direction that you may want to go in. Decisions need to be made because they do impact your future. If you just let life happen to you, it may not be all that fun. Her advice seems to go against what most people say nowadays, such as, "You have time for that later," "Marriage and babies are for older people," "You're only 23. You don't need a serious relationship or career," and so on. However, I really do believe that we need to put aside these sayings that give "freedom" to twentysomethings and instead use Jay's advice and give them "responsibility for their lives." I want responsibility, so I'm shrugging off anyone who tells me I have time to wait. I'm taking time by the horns and taking action in the direction I want.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Yuck, I will not be finishing this one. She comes across as very judgmental to both her clients and readers--I would hate to have her as my therapist! The biggest problem is she stacks everyone up against the same measures of success: a "good" job, finding a suitable spouse, and procreating. If you decide to have children in your thirties or even forties, you're apparently squandering your prime baby-making years in your twenties. She doesn't seem to factor in that maybe not everyone wants the t Yuck, I will not be finishing this one. She comes across as very judgmental to both her clients and readers--I would hate to have her as my therapist! The biggest problem is she stacks everyone up against the same measures of success: a "good" job, finding a suitable spouse, and procreating. If you decide to have children in your thirties or even forties, you're apparently squandering your prime baby-making years in your twenties. She doesn't seem to factor in that maybe not everyone wants the typical American Dream life with a house and 2.5 kids that their parents had. Or maybe not everyone has the resources to achieve these things. She also seems to think that all 20-somethings are making purposefully poor decisions about their lives. This book is for privileged 20-somethings who truly are wasting their time bumming around, not for 20-somethings who are actually out there at least trying to do something.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Shepard

    I found this book very helpful. I think anyone in their twenties who don't know what they should do with their life should read this book. Dr. Jay does not say that young people in their twenties who don't have a steady job are doing it wrong, or that thinking about a career or love later in life is a bad thing. She merely states (accurately) that all our actions have consequences and if you want a career and children in your thirties that you should start thinking and planning those things in y I found this book very helpful. I think anyone in their twenties who don't know what they should do with their life should read this book. Dr. Jay does not say that young people in their twenties who don't have a steady job are doing it wrong, or that thinking about a career or love later in life is a bad thing. She merely states (accurately) that all our actions have consequences and if you want a career and children in your thirties that you should start thinking and planning those things in your twenties. She says that your years post-graduation matter and that the executives and experienced professionals in the workplace got there by having years of work behind them. You don't turn thirty and become an experienced professional by magic, it takes work. She also offers solid concrete wisdom on dating, marriage, finding a job, health, hobbies, and the rest. I found her approach not off-putting but motivating. Overall a very useful book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lightreads

    Make your popcorn, kids, and gather round: I read a self-help book. Sooo….never read one of these before, and I always assumed that the audience of self-help books was composed largely of people who don't actually have what I think of as "problems." And by that I mean self-help books are for people dealing with something that can be dealt with, as opposed to something that can't. The difference between 'I need to learn to be more assertive' and 'my retina tore in half and it's inoperable' (true s Make your popcorn, kids, and gather round: I read a self-help book. Sooo….never read one of these before, and I always assumed that the audience of self-help books was composed largely of people who don't actually have what I think of as "problems." And by that I mean self-help books are for people dealing with something that can be dealt with, as opposed to something that can't. The difference between 'I need to learn to be more assertive' and 'my retina tore in half and it's inoperable' (true story). Because my assumption has always been that dealing with things that can be dealt with is a skill that results from all the shit you learn from the things that can't be dealt with. This book did nothing to change my mind, since it assumes the reader doesn't have problems as I conceive of them, but instead is struggling with all that making way in the world stuff. You know – money, a vocation, love. And the idea is to, like, talk people through adulting. Does this actually work on anybody? Because I'm assuming it's a largely useless endeavor, since all of my learning has been of the other variety. The 'boy hospitals are quiet at 4 a.m.' variety, or the 'twiddly-doo, wish my STD tests would come back' variety (…true stories). So I find it difficult to imagine that reading a book that tells you in vague terms how some anonymized case studies handled finding a career would actually help anybody. But hey, maybe I'm wrong. I've learned a shit ton from books in my life; it's just all of those books were fiction, and somehow that works so much better for me. Either way, this wasn't the book for me. Its cookie-cutter notions of what straight, able-bodied, self-doubting life looks like have very little to do with how my twenties went. I mean, my twenties were, in retrospect, fucking insane. I crammed a massive amount of stuff into one decade, and had yet more crammed in on me. And not to put too fine a point on it, but actually, you know what? I rocked it. I rolled that decade like a motherfucking cigarette and smoked it. I got a couple degrees and was poor and was rich and fucked a bunch of people and read amazing books and found my person and said "it's cancer, okay, coping initiated" and wrote a million words of crap and a few words of not crap and lost my eye and lost my mind and clawed it back and earned my way into an amazing one-in-a-million job and sang every day and walked away from my parents and learned and learned and learned. And I screwed stuff up. All the time. But this book seems entirely irrelevant to that. Or to anything else I'm carrying right now. What can it possibly tell me about yesterday's negative pregnancy test that I don't already know? Though I guess it did crystalize for me that I have done okay. And never having been asked to take stock like that before, I suppose that's nice. But really. Does this stuff actually help anybody?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kimly Nguyen

    It was as if I had my own personal psychotherapist in the comforts of my own room, spoon-feeding me the ugly truth and guiding me towards my desired pathway of success and happiness....minus the outrageous charges. --- At the prime of my 20s, this book was just what I needed. As a 20 year old young lady who is in the midst of figuring out what the hell I should really do with my life, why my romantic relationships have been debilitating, and what kind of academic and career choices I should carry It was as if I had my own personal psychotherapist in the comforts of my own room, spoon-feeding me the ugly truth and guiding me towards my desired pathway of success and happiness....minus the outrageous charges. --- At the prime of my 20s, this book was just what I needed. As a 20 year old young lady who is in the midst of figuring out what the hell I should really do with my life, why my romantic relationships have been debilitating, and what kind of academic and career choices I should carry out, I bought this on impulse to see if I could reek some beneficial advice from it. Within two days, I finished it...and the pages are now filled with high-lighted marks and post-its on each chapter. Meg jay did a phenomenal job at picking apart the so-called millennials, in which we are labeled as the "lost ones/baby adults/forever adolescents" from the previous generations, and she clearly identified the manifested insecurities that hinders us from our personal growth. It wasn't another "self-help" book that repetitively drones on about the same crap we've been knowing and neither did it have pretentious diction that seemed to talk down to twenty-somethings; Meg was savvy enough to incorporate her own patient's relateble experiences and delves into them in an almost scientific way with thorough research, data, statistics, and of course...a bit of her own witty two-cents. There wasn't one chapter where I didn't catch myself nodding my head along with what she elaborated on...I mean...I could relate. It was an honest and articulate read...that I will continue to re-read for many years to come. I highly recommend it for any young, struggling twenty-something who views their future as murky waters and needs a bit of fire under their ass. After reading this book, it'll motivate you to get that potato bum off the sofa, brush up on your resume, pursue your passion, put 10,000 hours into your craft to truly become a master of it...and, most importantly, to not laze around...under the false premise...that we're forever young,wild and free...because time's a ticking...and our 20s is THE defining decade of our lifetime.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Well, if you want to suffer from panic attacks and depression, then by all means, READ THIS BOOK! I liked the first couple chapters of this book that talked about the working world and how it's really important to network and not be a loser jumping from one lame-o job to the next. She had a good message stating that these are the years in which we need to begin creating a stable career identity in order to move forward and/or up in the future. GOOD STUFF. The rest of the book...NOT GOOD STUFF. I Well, if you want to suffer from panic attacks and depression, then by all means, READ THIS BOOK! I liked the first couple chapters of this book that talked about the working world and how it's really important to network and not be a loser jumping from one lame-o job to the next. She had a good message stating that these are the years in which we need to begin creating a stable career identity in order to move forward and/or up in the future. GOOD STUFF. The rest of the book...NOT GOOD STUFF. I am a mid-twentysomething who has worked at the same company for 7 years, first as a part-time assistant and then moved into a full-time position almost 4 years ago. I have the benefits that come with a full-time job. What I don't have is a relationship. This book made me feel horrible because it felt like she was saying "Well...you better get crackin' on finding that guy and the family you want to pick before you get too old! And you better start before your personality turns to crap! Because if you're over 30, your eggs start to morph into these crazy alien things and you will then have a hard time getting pregnant and/or have mangled babies! Who cares that you have this stellar career that you are extremely passionate about and put 4 years of grad school into it? If you're not in a relationship that is on its way to married town, you suck at life!" Okay, that last part may be a bit extreme. As a graduate student in a counseling psychology program, Jay, as a clinical psychologist, made me feel like crap. As if I don't already feel the pressure from family and society to get a boyfriend, this book just added to it. I have to say that by the end, I was extremely disappointed in it. I understand the points she is making. It does become harder to establish relationships and have children as you get older. NOW is the time to begin investing in your future life. I get that. I am on my way to that. I think that is a great message that many twentysomethings need. I just feel like the rest of the ideas she touches on sounded condescending and made me feel like I am not where I am supposed to be. It made me feel like "Oh, crap. Have I wasted the last seven years because I haven't worked on perfecting my personality? And as I approach my late twenties, the time I have to cement that personality is slipping away?" I just feel more pressured than before reading this and I don't like it. READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! Many people say they enjoy this book. Am I the only one who felt panic?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    First off, I expected to hate The Defining Decade. Which does beg the question as to why I was reading it, but never mind that. I feared that the book would read like one giant "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG" to me, a single, 28-year-old law clerk living at home while I continue the search for a more permanent position. I suspect Dr. Jay would tell me that I am doing a few things "wrong," at least in the sense of not furthering my goals, but I also learned I have probably done at least a few things righ First off, I expected to hate The Defining Decade. Which does beg the question as to why I was reading it, but never mind that. I feared that the book would read like one giant "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG" to me, a single, 28-year-old law clerk living at home while I continue the search for a more permanent position. I suspect Dr. Jay would tell me that I am doing a few things "wrong," at least in the sense of not furthering my goals, but I also learned I have probably done at least a few things right. Most importantly, the book offers some guidance as to how to set things right, and it didn't make me feel like I'd run out of time to make changes simply because I'm approaching 30. The book is a quick, easy read. I could relate to many of the twentysomethings Dr. Jay profiled in her book, and the blend of anecdotal evidence with social science research appealed to me as a reader. I don't know that there's any particular reason to read this book if you're totally satisfied with your life, and I probably wouldn't recommend it if you've determined that a more conventional lifestyle (career, marriage, kids, house) is not for you because I doubt that the book would have very much to offer you. If, however, you're feeling adrift and looking for some advice, this book is an honest and insightful place to start.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim Harrison

    Some interesting thoughts w/r/t relationships and shaping your personality as your frontal lobe finishes development, but fails to take into account the current employment atmosphere for the work section. It looks like much of her research and most of the examples given were prior to the recession, when it was possible for her to talk with her clients with such ease about "getting the apprenticeship in DC" or one of the other incredibly difficult suggestions she gives for avoiding "hiding" in un Some interesting thoughts w/r/t relationships and shaping your personality as your frontal lobe finishes development, but fails to take into account the current employment atmosphere for the work section. It looks like much of her research and most of the examples given were prior to the recession, when it was possible for her to talk with her clients with such ease about "getting the apprenticeship in DC" or one of the other incredibly difficult suggestions she gives for avoiding "hiding" in unemployment. No one I know is "HIDING" in unemployment or underemployment. My friends going through this are constantly searching out better opportunities, but are unable to find them. In my own case, I'm in a great job now purely because of sheer, 100% luck. When I graduated from college, I moved to the bay with my partner to be closer to her parents, and for a change of pace from the place we went to school. It was a tough job market (and still is) but was dramatically better than where we were coming from. I struggled for months trying to find any kind of work. I was turned down from interesting jobs because I didn't have the experience, and turned down from crappy jobs because I was overqualified. My unemployment was mercifully brief, but left a serious impact on me. I will do ANYTHING to avoid being unemployed again. Out of the blue I got a call from a recruiter who got me a contract at a major tech company and put me on the path I am on now. He happened to see my resume on Monster, and that was that. This was after weeks and months of working my "weak ties" as Dr. Jay advocates in her book, scanning craigslist/monster/whatever daily to find the freshest postings, and wondering around town looking for help wanted signs without success. This books desperately needs to be reappraised in light of the current economic conditions facing "twentysomethings." The unemployment rate (to say nothing of underemployment) for those 20-24 is 13%, versus 7% for everyone over 20. Jay makes it seem far too easy to find the kind of jobs that build up the "identity capital" she indicates (rightfully) as being important to future prospects, and sections about what to do when you can't just call on a contact to get you a job, or magically find your way into a dream job would make this book more applicable and relevant to those who are coming to this book to look for guidance.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Nguyễn

    Right book right time. Got a lot of new ideas for my coming book when reading this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Storytime! I’ve had a terrible track record with therapists. Having been to about six different ones, I’ve come to distrust them. The last one I had seemed to be working out. She gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get my life back on track back in 2010-2011. She helped me find the courage to move to London. When I returned from London, I kept seeing her so we could deal with the inevitable depression of being back home. During our sessions, I found her to be impatient with me at times, and Storytime! I’ve had a terrible track record with therapists. Having been to about six different ones, I’ve come to distrust them. The last one I had seemed to be working out. She gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get my life back on track back in 2010-2011. She helped me find the courage to move to London. When I returned from London, I kept seeing her so we could deal with the inevitable depression of being back home. During our sessions, I found her to be impatient with me at times, and at others, I felt she wasn’t genuinely interested in what I had to say. Still, I kept going until I found out she discussed my sessions with one of my friends who was also seeing her. After that, I stopped going to her for good. Because I live in a small country and everyone knows everyone, I get incredibly anxious just thinking about finding a new therapist. I became just as anxious when I started reading this book. The future scares the crap out of me. Planning scares me even more because it feels like I am setting myself up for disappointment. Yes, I can be quite the ray of sunshine. Considering I am going through the longest quarter-life (nearly 30’s) crisis ever, I decided to read this book. It was therapy at my fingertips and my pace. Jay is good at stating the facts and accompanying them with anecdotes of her patients. Most of the time, I found her no-nonsense attitude very refreshing. I enjoyed the chapter on work and the concept of identity capital. I also enjoyed the chapter on love how one must date thinking about the future, not thinking about hookups. The twenties are a supremely important decade that shouldn’t be considered inconsequential. Necessary experiences happen, plus your brain has one last bout of development at this crucial age. Other times, like when I reached the fertility chapter, I felt Jay become extremely judgmental and one dimensional. It brought back memories of that gossipy therapist. It seems to me Jay doesn’t even contemplate that a life without children could be fulfilling or that not everyone is straight. While she says that most twenty something’s want children (52% of them according to a Pew Survey), there’s a good percentage (I count myself in that percentage) that don’t feel that inclination. If I could distill this book into the work portion, perhaps even broaden it a bit, it would be an excellent book. Sadly, because of its narrow view after the halfway portion, I can't give it a higher score.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I read this one at the behest of my parents mind you. My dad won it from a radio station under mysterious circumstances. HA! Its really short though so no biggie… The book forwarded a surprisingly intelligent view given my low expectations. It constitutes a defense and justification for living a relatively focused, disciplined, and "conservative" life during your 20s rather than treating them like throw away years in which underemployment and meaningless relationships should be pursued. Instead, I read this one at the behest of my parents mind you. My dad won it from a radio station under mysterious circumstances. HA! Its really short though so no biggie… The book forwarded a surprisingly intelligent view given my low expectations. It constitutes a defense and justification for living a relatively focused, disciplined, and "conservative" life during your 20s rather than treating them like throw away years in which underemployment and meaningless relationships should be pursued. Instead, establishing yourself on a fulfilling career track as efficiently as possible, and scouting for prospective marriage partners should be on your brain. The idea is that being active and focused in these regards during your 20s both makes you happier in the present, and sets you up for a happier and more autonomous 30s-40s-90s. Its pretty obvious. So obvious in fact that I don't understand why or if anyone truly thinks differently. It is odd though, I do know a lot of people who behave similarly to the ones she describes. Aka highly unmotivated people who aren't going to school, pursuing jobs, pursuing independent creative pursuits which can go on resumes, or doing anything much at all, and somehow think its all going to work out in the long run. Then again I also know a lot of people in the opposite camp as well so who knows how big of a problem this actually is, eh? There are problems with the book. Mainly the genre. Didn't feel like a real psychology book, probably because its also in that kind of self help genre which inevitably seems seems trite and preachy after a while. The romance chapter was true, but less intuitively obvious so that was a plus. However, I do think she overstates the importance of marrying early. The main reason she cites for this is so that you have a better chance of having a baby. But having a baby which is biologically related to me seems of very little importance to my overall happiness in life, and is certainly not worth sacrificing money, career advancement, or leisure time to achieve. Basically this is the book you throw this book at prostrate 26 year old stoners while shouting "GET A JOB, YA DAMN BUM".

  17. 5 out of 5

    WhatIReallyRead

    I loved this book! I think I highlighted more than a half of it :D The Defining Decade definitely struck a chord with me - it touched upon many issues I'm facing or faced quite recently, so a lot of times I was emotional and couldn't read more than a couple chapters at a time. It's written in an engaging way - showing struggles and dilemmas through people's stories. The author also cites her sources, books and research, which is something I value and admire. Most of all I loved that it didn't co I loved this book! I think I highlighted more than a half of it :D The Defining Decade definitely struck a chord with me - it touched upon many issues I'm facing or faced quite recently, so a lot of times I was emotional and couldn't read more than a couple chapters at a time. It's written in an engaging way - showing struggles and dilemmas through people's stories. The author also cites her sources, books and research, which is something I value and admire. Most of all I loved that it didn't contain the typical self-helpey sugar-coated bullshit like "follow your dreams" and instead addresses how to deal with a real issue of not having any dreams to pursue or the struggle of trying and finding out that your dream doesn't look as glamorous as you thought.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Arjun

    Meh. I enjoyed Meg Jay's original NYT op-ed on cohabitation and put this on my reading list, though putting it off to when I thought it would be more applicable and ended up coming away pretty disappointed, This is a book in 3 parts – on work, love, and "the brain and the body". The career advice is mostly shallow and limited. While it's a good kick in the ass, it left a lot of the why unanswered. I think Cal Newport's So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work Meh. I enjoyed Meg Jay's original NYT op-ed on cohabitation and put this on my reading list, though putting it off to when I thought it would be more applicable and ended up coming away pretty disappointed, This is a book in 3 parts – on work, love, and "the brain and the body". The career advice is mostly shallow and limited. While it's a good kick in the ass, it left a lot of the why unanswered. I think Cal Newport's So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love is a far better book on navigating your career. I thought the section on navigating love was pretty good (despite being shockingly presumptuous and heteronormative). As a cognitive science student, the "brain" explanations in the last section were yawn-worthy to the level of condescension. I learned some useful things about women and fertility though. It probably could have been a 10k word blog post, but here's a quick tl;dr: Lots of twentysomethings have identity crises and it's totally normal. Think about the "identity capital" you have and don't underestimate yourself (or put yourself in positions where you won't accumulate any). Your weak ties are way more important than your close friends because they're probably all similar to you [interjection: anecdotally, it seems like doubling down on your successful smart close friends isn't a bad idea at all]. Pay attention to your "unthought thoughts" (things you know about yourself but somehow forget). Remember – you can pick your family when you're older! You have more freedom with marriage now than ever. Cohabitation before marriage is actually pretty bad and the reasons for this are baffling (religion, education, politics, etc. don't account for it). The twentysomething brain is still kinda plastic but you'll never have quite the edge you do now. Use your neurons! Have some goals! Hit them! Goals are good and will make your more focused and happy. Also, pay attention to your age if you want to have kids because that gets way harder as time goes on. Save yourself the time spent reading the book and buy my mother a cup of coffee. She'll explain all of it more lucidly. :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

    The book is a must read for everyone who is struggling to move on after school. Which is most of people, including me. It's divided into a number of sections: -Work Dealing with issues regarding your work life. The moral here is that the twenties go by quickly. You shouldn't take work seriously only in your early thirties, cause the more you delay taking work seriously, the harder it becomes to have a successful or at least decent careers. Who wants to hire anyone who wasted their 20s? Commit to w The book is a must read for everyone who is struggling to move on after school. Which is most of people, including me. It's divided into a number of sections: -Work Dealing with issues regarding your work life. The moral here is that the twenties go by quickly. You shouldn't take work seriously only in your early thirties, cause the more you delay taking work seriously, the harder it becomes to have a successful or at least decent careers. Who wants to hire anyone who wasted their 20s? Commit to work early, and if you don't like your job, you will have opportunities to explore and adjust. Adjust early and take risks now. - Love Begin with the end in mind. Make good judgements about your love life. If you are in a relationship with a person you don't want to marry, why waste time with them? Look for someone you are likely to marry and commit to them. - The rest A lot of choices you make in your 20s affect your future life. Yes, you'll probably live in your 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s! Make good choices about work, life and your life. Think about the kind of life you want to have later, and start now. Want to have two kids, a successful career, and a beautiful house? Start working toward that now. Live your life now. Think about your future now. You are young and you have a lot of potential so don't waste it!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    Wow. I read this book from start to finish in literally a few hours, having been sucked into its timely lessons and enlightening ideas. Being a 22-year-old and recent college graduate starting my career, I could relate to Dr. Meg Jay's discussions about the mindset of a twentysomething. She uses logic, data, and experience to share the dangers that twentysomethings find themselves facing and that thinking the twenties are all about "finding ourselves" and putting off decisions and living it up (" Wow. I read this book from start to finish in literally a few hours, having been sucked into its timely lessons and enlightening ideas. Being a 22-year-old and recent college graduate starting my career, I could relate to Dr. Meg Jay's discussions about the mindset of a twentysomething. She uses logic, data, and experience to share the dangers that twentysomethings find themselves facing and that thinking the twenties are all about "finding ourselves" and putting off decisions and living it up ("YOLO") is actually a terrible mistake. Jay discusses the main topics of work, relationships, and the body and mind and how the twenties can be used more effectively in each of those areas. Many twentysomethings are completely lost, uncertain, and disillusioned by the universe we quickly find ourselves in after college and it is difficult to find true happiness and fulfillment, even if we are "enjoying ourselves" with partying, easy jobs, or off-and-on relationships. Jay offers us a new way to approach these negative feelings and to make a plan for ourselves and our futures. I would highly recommend this book to ANYONE in their twenties, even if you feel like you have a pretty good handle on things. Not everything in this book applied to me, but I was still able to take something away from it. Now is the time to invest in ourselves and our future--and this book was a fantastic motivator and reminder of that.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cristal

    While this book definitely caters to a certain, privileged demographic (trustafarians or trust fund babies; college-educated twentysomethings who have the means to seek therapy about not having a decent job, relationship, etc.) I found it to be useful in that it inspired me to take myself seriously and think about the bigger life plan. For me, it was an immediate catalyst to get my apartment in order and check things off my to do list that have been sitting there for a long time. It made me real While this book definitely caters to a certain, privileged demographic (trustafarians or trust fund babies; college-educated twentysomethings who have the means to seek therapy about not having a decent job, relationship, etc.) I found it to be useful in that it inspired me to take myself seriously and think about the bigger life plan. For me, it was an immediate catalyst to get my apartment in order and check things off my to do list that have been sitting there for a long time. It made me realize how important it is for me to not just get by, but to thrive and live with more intention. I appreciate Dr. Jay's credentials as a clinical psychologist, but this book doesn't quite speak to twentysomethings who, for whatever reason, have not gone through higher education. It also fails to consider the macro level issues (i.e. the recession) twentysomethings face. I know from experience that it is seriously hard to find employment for post graduates. So instead we find ourselves unemployed or underemployed because we have to survive. I spoke to a friend about Dr. Jay work and I have to agree with her critique that the views in the book come from a westernized, privileged (white) perspective. She presents her findings in a very black and white way. Some people don't have any other choice, but to be underemployed. Maybe for some people it's exhausting to focus on our careers, leaving little room for dating. There are people out there who still live with their parents out of necessity, or who choose to because they want to pay it forward and support the people who supported them all their life. I didn't identify with any of the clients' stories. Frankly, most of them annoyed me. Overall, I would still recommend reading it because there are some sobering facts she recounts. The mind/body section was especially interesting to read through. It's also a pretty quick read and you may be a better person in the long run for it. It was a game changer for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Bensema

    The author makes some excellent points: what we do and with whom we date and interact in our twenties will define the remainder of our life. She lays out the typical 'lost and wandering' feeling of a person in his 20s through discussion of counseling sessions with past clients. The main thrust is this: you undergo major changes for the last time in your twenties, and your work and family life are probably going to be defined by what you do and do not do. If you want your life to look like X, you The author makes some excellent points: what we do and with whom we date and interact in our twenties will define the remainder of our life. She lays out the typical 'lost and wandering' feeling of a person in his 20s through discussion of counseling sessions with past clients. The main thrust is this: you undergo major changes for the last time in your twenties, and your work and family life are probably going to be defined by what you do and do not do. If you want your life to look like X, you should start figuring that out now. If you don't know what you want your life to look like, start building useful pieces. Keep in mind that this is a secular book - some of the author's advice to her clients in tending in the right direction, but far from it. In particular, the Church could have given you more complete answers for free on the topic of love. That aside, it was a good book, and it made me think. In particular, it made me realize I should evaluate what I want to get good at and be able to do now, and start practicing it. I'd recommend the book, but with the caveat that it should not be taken as moral advice.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Duong

    This book addresses some of my biggest gripes about twentysomethings (especially entitlement). That being said, not all twentysomethings lack ambition or fear commitment. The chapters about work were my favourite. Otherwise the author is a bit heavy-handed on marriage, having kids and perpetuating social norms. In my opinion, her clients' stories are pretty representative of the "struggles" that twentysomethings go through. They are all variations of people I know or stories I've heard. The social This book addresses some of my biggest gripes about twentysomethings (especially entitlement). That being said, not all twentysomethings lack ambition or fear commitment. The chapters about work were my favourite. Otherwise the author is a bit heavy-handed on marriage, having kids and perpetuating social norms. In my opinion, her clients' stories are pretty representative of the "struggles" that twentysomethings go through. They are all variations of people I know or stories I've heard. The social psychology parts were dull for me as I assume they will be for anyone with a background in it. Phineas Gage blah blah blah, I get it. Overall, worth the read if you need some motivation, but if you're self-directed and have goals, I would probably skip it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Azaa Kh

    It seems like yesterday that I turned twenty, and I remember having no clue about what I wanted to do with my life and feeling like a ten-year-old at heart. And yet, as a ten-year-old, I imagined that it would mean a complete adulthood. Besides physical appearance (well okay, I still look like a ten-year-old), nothing seemed to have changed drastically. Mom used to say "Don't rush to become an adult, you'll be one for the rest of your life". On the contrary, if you don't become one, you'll be a It seems like yesterday that I turned twenty, and I remember having no clue about what I wanted to do with my life and feeling like a ten-year-old at heart. And yet, as a ten-year-old, I imagined that it would mean a complete adulthood. Besides physical appearance (well okay, I still look like a ten-year-old), nothing seemed to have changed drastically. Mom used to say "Don't rush to become an adult, you'll be one for the rest of your life". On the contrary, if you don't become one, you'll be a ten-year-old for the rest of your life. So, there seems to be a sweet spot in between, and as this book reasons, our twenties is the defining decade in which we need to learn how to "adult". Relationships and career specifically are mostly determined by what we do in these years, and it's a bit scary. But in the end, all of us have the complete freedom to navigate our lives at our own will, and this is probably the best part about being an adult. This book provides some helpful advice on planning our career and relationships, and it was an interesting read overall. Hopefully, I could at least partially resemble my ten-year-old imagination by the age of thirty :P

  25. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Yup, I read this book. It was good and informative. But I have to say, the main thing it told me was the stuff I already knew. Which, to be fair, I maybe needed to be told again. But that was the fault of a lot of adults in my network (not my parents, to be clear) making sure I know that I'm still young, and it's fine to have fun, and blah blah blah. That has always irritated me, because I have always felt like I was missing out. I have never heard my parents regret having a family so young or ta Yup, I read this book. It was good and informative. But I have to say, the main thing it told me was the stuff I already knew. Which, to be fair, I maybe needed to be told again. But that was the fault of a lot of adults in my network (not my parents, to be clear) making sure I know that I'm still young, and it's fine to have fun, and blah blah blah. That has always irritated me, because I have always felt like I was missing out. I have never heard my parents regret having a family so young or talk about the things they could have done if they had spent their 20s the way I have spent a good chunk of mine. Seriously, listen to the people who you know who are in their twenties and decide if they sound happy to you. Compare the ones who are on a solid career path with those who are blundering around trying to figure things out. Because this whole "being young, having fun" thing is way overrated. And this book is all about that. It's all about young twenty-something people who are torn between all of these cliches and ideas that are fed to them by older influences, like parents, employers, etc. For example, "you can be anything you want," which at some point just makes people feel like they can't be anything, or "You should be having fun!" which makes people think that by partying and taking it easy all the time, they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, even if they don't feel remotely fulfilled. So basically this book reinforced everything that I already thought/believed but was starting to think I was being unrealistic about, mainly because everybody I know, peers and older role models (not to mention a couple of people I did informational interviews with) said that I shouldn't worry and everything will work out and blah blah blah. So, you know. This book is good. Recommended, even.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nguyen Linh Chi

    I first read this book a year ago, now I have to re-read this since I have problems with my self-orientation and motivation. Read this book, when you fail your job interview, you get bored with your job, you wonder what you should do with your life, you receive negative feedback from your boss, you have a quarrel with your parents about life choice, you break up with your boy/girlfriend, you are having a going-nowhere relationship. The best quote I love in this book is "Being an adult is not abou I first read this book a year ago, now I have to re-read this since I have problems with my self-orientation and motivation. Read this book, when you fail your job interview, you get bored with your job, you wonder what you should do with your life, you receive negative feedback from your boss, you have a quarrel with your parents about life choice, you break up with your boy/girlfriend, you are having a going-nowhere relationship. The best quote I love in this book is "Being an adult is not about doing things that are interesting. Being an adult is doing things that MAKE SENSE". The drawback of this book is that the examples are not suitable in Vietnamese culture (Yeah, most of my friends get a full-time job after graduating, no one becomes a nanny nor travels around the world to teach English). But this is a perfect book if you are in twentysomething period and having existential crisis.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Teenage Reads

    Plot: Your twenties is where your life is made. Everyone wants to stay young forever, but if you also want to be married with child number one, have a steady career, and a house by the time you are thirty-one, then you cannot still be having flings and working at a Starbucks at twenty-seven, or even twenty-five. Growing up, life had a structure to it, from your parents determining how you spent your day as a child, to school, which for some last until they are twenty-two to twenty-five. After sch Plot: Your twenties is where your life is made. Everyone wants to stay young forever, but if you also want to be married with child number one, have a steady career, and a house by the time you are thirty-one, then you cannot still be having flings and working at a Starbucks at twenty-seven, or even twenty-five. Growing up, life had a structure to it, from your parents determining how you spent your day as a child, to school, which for some last until they are twenty-two to twenty-five. After school, no matter if you got your high school diploma or your masters, there are no longer any rules that are telling you how to live your life, and that “freedom” causes twenty-somethings to freeze and not do anything with their life. Described by one of Dr. Jay’s clients, it is like you are dumped in the middle of the ocean and have no way of telling which way is closer to land, and a mistaken direction could be fatal. From work, love, and looking ahead, Dr. Jay wrote this book for all twenty-somethings that hope they will not be living their current lifestyle when they are thirty, and how at twenty-something they can change that. Thoughts: This book was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Dr. Meg Jay wrote this book as a wake-up call for all twenty-somethings, that you gotta start living your life today if you want everything in your future to happen. Divided into three sections of Work, Love, and The Brain of the Body, Dr. Jay traps you into thinking about your future and where you want to be in ten years. Where Dr. Jay wrote this book for all twenty-somethings the best age I believe to read this wonderful self-help book would be your last year of school. That way you still have a year to finish your bachelor's or your masters before you enter your real world, and start taking responsibility as Dr. Jay instructs you to. The writing of this novel was super easy to read, as Dr. Jay kept it fast-paced and moving, adding their own personal client’s stories to help really make their problems seem real and give readers a “that could be me” feeling. Some sections will hit the reader harder than others (Dr. Jay really did me with the Dating Down section), however, her book is diverse enough that at least one of the sections will be relevant for you, and if it is not now it will be in a few years. With a sad section on fertility (if you are planning to have your first kid late thirties you might just physically not be able to), being successful (you will always feel underqualified), to marriage and love (if your not going to marry them why are you still with them), and that the media portrayed you being young and fun in your twenties, this is actually the time to get to work and set up that life you want to have. Overall, a huge recommendation to all my twenty-somethings peers out there who are trying to figure out who they are and what life they want to have, allow this book to get you into gear, and get the motivation to live that life.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A thought-provoking, insightful, constructive, and ... I'm guessing, helpful self-help book (yup, it is what it is) that's quite easy to read and (for its intended audience) well worth the time. When it was recommended to me (for various reasons, none of which have to do with being in my twenties, which are, alas, more than a few decades behind me), I expected it to be a slog, and I was wrong. I'm glad I read it, and I expect I will have numerous opportunities to recommend it and share copies. As A thought-provoking, insightful, constructive, and ... I'm guessing, helpful self-help book (yup, it is what it is) that's quite easy to read and (for its intended audience) well worth the time. When it was recommended to me (for various reasons, none of which have to do with being in my twenties, which are, alas, more than a few decades behind me), I expected it to be a slog, and I was wrong. I'm glad I read it, and I expect I will have numerous opportunities to recommend it and share copies. As for the intended audience, there's no question that Jay is writing for - speaking directly to - twenty-somethings, but my sense is that there's a lot of important, powerful stuff in here for parents (particularly parents who engage with, and speak strategically with their twenty-something children), as well as folks who deal with the demographic - I'm think folks who teach in graduate schools or employers, managers, and supervisors (who churn through twenty-somethings while grumbling about the generation's failures and inadequacies). Quibbles and nits: it's easy to criticize the book - particularly to the extent that I don't typically consume the self-help genre - but it wouldn't be fair. The book is light - in that there's really only 200 or so pages of generously spaced text ... but there's also plentiful notes for folks who want to read more on specific anecdotes, research, or concepts. The author inserts herself into the book frequently - with mixed results; her personal anecdotes are entertaining and telling, but it's also clear that the author is immensely talented and cognitively gifted, and one wonders how analogous her experiences might be to the typical twenty-something reading the book. Finally, the book is primarily populated with case studies based on her (renamed) patients, who have enjoyed the luxury (and I mean luxury, something not broadly available to the public) of an extended one-on-one relationship (including, apparently, on demand telephonic access) with a highly credentialed clinical psychologist. While that peer group may not be representative (of ... I dunno), it is the author's primary data set, and it's her book, based on her observations, and she's entitled to tell her story however she pleases (and, to my mind, she's sufficiently transparent about exactly what clay she's molding from). And, of course, if you don't want to read the book (or if you just want a taste), you can just watch/listen to her TED talk: https://www.ted.com/speakers/meg_jay

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rocha

    More stream of consciousness than a review: I didn’t think this book was life changing, BUT definitely some good tidbits of knowledge. Reading this during COVID honestly made me feel a little bit stressed out because I do recognize there are things about myself that I need to work on, but living in quarantine and having moved back with my parents to wait it out makes it feel harder to make those changes. Maybe that’s just an excuse? Or maybe I can use COVID as a “riding with training wheels” time More stream of consciousness than a review: I didn’t think this book was life changing, BUT definitely some good tidbits of knowledge. Reading this during COVID honestly made me feel a little bit stressed out because I do recognize there are things about myself that I need to work on, but living in quarantine and having moved back with my parents to wait it out makes it feel harder to make those changes. Maybe that’s just an excuse? Or maybe I can use COVID as a “riding with training wheels” time to practice being more intentional with my choices and time before we are back in the normal world? Regardless, I am planning on taking the time to jot my life goals and timeline for these goals. I’m sure reading this at 23 instead of 29 also would be significantly different, but I hope I can refer back to my highlights for a quick refresher at a coffee shop in a few years.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This was certainly interesting to read. I was definitely put off by the concept. However, it was nice to read real life stories. One of the most positive aspects of this book is that it encourages twenty somethings to go for the life they want rather than choose a prescriptive path. I think this book has good intentions. I wish it offered less conventional routes to happiness than having a family. It might be interesting to read this later and see if it has any more meaning for me. There were som This was certainly interesting to read. I was definitely put off by the concept. However, it was nice to read real life stories. One of the most positive aspects of this book is that it encourages twenty somethings to go for the life they want rather than choose a prescriptive path. I think this book has good intentions. I wish it offered less conventional routes to happiness than having a family. It might be interesting to read this later and see if it has any more meaning for me. There were some useful tidbits here and there about relationships. It did lead me to my now favourite quote: 'If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.' Charles de Montesquieu

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