Why I’m treating my 20s like they’re the new 30s

You’ve definitely heard it before, and probably said it yourself: 30 is the new 20. I mean it is, right? Our generation is doing everything later in life – getting married, buying homes, having children, becoming established in our careers. This way of thinking makes it a bit easier to swallow the fact that we’re not at the same place in our lives that our parents and generations before us were at our age. But is it true? Or is it just an excuse, a way to put things off?  I recently watched a really great TED Talk that made me rethink this whole idea. (You can watch the video here.)

In the talk, psychologist Meg Jay makes a pretty big claim. Contrary to what people may say, she says, 30 is not the new 20. At first, this made me feel all sorts of depressed. I’m now past the halfway point of my twenties, and nowhere close to being established, successful, or settled in the traditional sense. Am I running out of time? I thought this was normal for my generation. Is it not? Have I just been wasting my twenties away?! What a depressing thought!

But wait a minute. What is she really saying? Yes, people are settling down, buying homes, getting married, starting families, and all that stuff later in life. In that sense, yes, 30 is the new 20. But her point is this: that doesn’t mean we should all just be sitting back and passively watch our twenties pass by before our eyes. Dr. Jay talks about taking your life into your own hands, and growing into the person you want to be now. Ah, that makes a lot more sense!

It’s pretty easy to look towards the future and say, someday I’ll get there, someday I’ll be that, someday it’ll happen. But what about now? She talks about embracing your twenties for exactly what they are – a time of change and personal development – and using this period in your life to actively shape yourself into the person you want to become. Instead of just waiting for things to fall into place, she says, your twenties are a time to live purposefully.

Have I been living my twenties purposefully? I’d like to think so. I’m only halfway through them, but so far I’ve done some pretty awesome things – some big and some small. Everything I’ve done, experienced, accomplished – all the mistakes and failures, all the adventures and successes – have been purposeful in that they’ve shaped me into the exact person that I am today, and overall, I’m pretty happy with who that person is.

So have I been living my twenties purposefully? Absolutely. Am I “settled” in the traditional sense? Absolutely not. Am I OK with that? Of course. I’ve chosen my experiences carefully. Instead of sitting back and waiting for my life to happen, I’m choosing to make it the very best it can be today.

Image via