Review: The Defining Decade

Read: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter-And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay
Stars: Five

Drinking: Earl Grey Classic, Fortnum & Mason

The Defining Decade is one of those very interesting books that could only be popular because culture has made it necessary.  Our culture has, in Jay’s opinion, made the 20s into an extension of adolescence – not children anymore, but not really adults either.  She uses case studies of 20something and 30something clients to remind the reader that the 20s are actually an important time in our culture to set up for career, relationships, and health.  Yes, we need to find ourselves – but we need to do so in a structured way, so we don’t wake up in 10 or 20 years and wonder where our lives went.

The book is divided into three parts.  Career, the first, is also the largest. Jay notes that most of her clients are career-focused in their 20s, and may not even think about relationships in a serious way.  In the second section, she explains why that is not necessarily a good thing, as people end up in toxic or just non-functional relationships that can turn into failed marriages or regretful attempts at conceiving in late 30s and early 40s.  In the final section, she discusses how the brain is still growing well into the 20s, which is why it’s such an ideal time to start a career and learn how to function in “the real world.”

I enjoyed The Defining Decade, but as a woman rapidly approaching her late 20s, it also made me more stressed out and depressed.  There are many things that she recommends, particularly in the career section, that I have heard before. Yet the advice remains untaken.  reading that section made me feel both guilty and defensive – how can I find a career if I am stuck making as much money as possible to pay off the amazing amounts of student loan debt accrued while getting a degree I now don’t even use? Ultimately, these questions remain unanswered.  I feel that her book is for those who are truly lost – the 20somethings living at home, working retail or in coffee shops, or living with the boyfriend or girlfriend they are just “meh” about.  I feel that, despite my career issues, overall, I’m on the right track with my 20s, and Jay’s book helped me to remember that.

If you are a 20something, I highly recommend you read this book. It will help put things in perspective, if nothing else.

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Author: Lisa Fry

Freelance Writer & Editor. Book lover. Feminist. International development professional

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