Is 30 the new 20?

I will preface this post by saying if you have not yet discovered TED Talks, I highly recommend taking a few minutes from your day to listen to just a few. To sum it up quickly, each TED Talk is a short and highly informative podcast or video about a given subject. If you’re new to it all, here is a good playlist to begin with.

A dear friend of mine I met while teaching in Korea first introduced me to TED Talks. She and I had incredible conversations and I value her opinion above most others, to be very honest. So I was surprised at how reluctant I was to listen to a TED Talk she highly recommended titled “Why 30 is not the new 20.” She told me that while it was good to hear, it also scared her. Coming into adulthood with a very strong millenial, gen-y, late bloomer, whatever-you-may-call-it attitude, I was petrified to tune in.

The reasoning? I couldn’t help but feel I got a late start to my career after taking what I consider to be a gap year. Though my time abroad was priceless, I didn’t see how that was going to help me get the career I always desired in design and marketing. Another short-term internship and only a semester in grad school later, I was certain that my career was doomed. I was absolutely counting on my 30’s to be my 20’s. That decade was going to be the time I figured everything out. I could spend another five years knowingly hitting and missing. By the time I hit 30, it would all magically make sense.

Little did I know that I had it figured out all along. This inspirational talk by Meg Jay reassured me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was taking advantage of the opportunities presented to me. I was figuring out what worked and what didn’t work. I was fully committed to setting myself up for the career goals I had set for myself. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit.

Only after I listened to this talk did I realize that my year abroad was truly transformative. I learned tremendous amounts about myself and what I’m capable of. This has carried into the workplace and my career, giving me confidence to try new things and step outside of my comfort zone. That time abroad was not, as Meg would say, a developmental downtime. It was a development sweet spot, and I was shaping my ambitions without even knowing it. You may be, unknowingly, doing the same.

For more about Meg and her inspirational TED Talk:

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.

In her book “The Defining Decade,” Meg Jay suggests that many twentysomethings feel trivialized during what is actually the most transformative — and defining — period of our adult lives.

Watch here.


2 thoughts on “Is 30 the new 20?

  1. I’d like to divide my 30s into two phases: 30-33 and 34-40…if by 33 I haven’t figured out my life then I’m in trouble…it calls for extraordinary measures to ensure that by 35 I have it figured out…can’t imagine getting into 40s still wandering…scary thought!

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