The Defining Years

defining moments_page_1There are some publications online describing young adults today and the environment they live in as an “Adulthood by 30” generation. Better describing this is a term coined by psychologist Jeffrey Arnett called “emerging adulthood”, a phrase to describe adolescence being delayed to adulthood, more specifically toward their thirties. In other words, most young adults nowadays feel that adulthood has not really dawned upon them until they are in their thirties, leaving the rest of their twenties a big mystery over major life decisions.

While extended years of youth may make you think of more time to travel and more chances to gain experiences before completely settling in, it is a compounding issue that demands our attention, as young adults experience signs of depression as a result.

How then can one avoid regret over choices made (or not made) while he is in his twenties? According to Meg Jay, author of the book “The Defining Decade,” it would be helpful to shift away from being distracted with options and focusing instead on getting some of what he calls identity capital. “Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital… Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.”

In the book, Jay also shed light on the four critical areas of our lives we should focus on: Love, work, brain and body. Throughout the book, he shared insights on how we should perceive each of these areas.


WORK: The journey towards building a sustainable career should be enjoyable, but young adults are allowing internal and external pressure to be placed upon them. “Sometimes my clients are unclear about whether they are striving toward their potential or are on a search for glory, but a search for glory is pretty easy to spot. Any search for glory is propelled by what (Karen Horney, developmental theorist) called the tyranny of ‘the should’.”

The tyranny of ‘the should’, or “By 24, I should be here,” or “By 29, I should have kids” kind of thinking, is what affects most of us greatly and it doesn’t stop in our twenties. It is common practice to make a timeline of your twenties, but upon realizing that we are not keeping up with our self – imposed standards, we think we have failed. Knowing yourself and what you are capable of doing will allow you to discover just the opposite, as it will give you the courage to tackle on new challenges. It is through these challenges that you will experience the friction between your work and what you thought you can do, which will lead you to unlocking your true potential.

loveLOVE: “(Society) is structured to distract people from the decisions that have huge impact on happiness in order to focus attention on the decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness. The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse.” This notion came from David Brooks, a political and cultured commentator, when he wrote an article when he was asked to give a commencement speech to young graduates. As much as choosing your partner is a matter of the heart, it is also arguably a matter of the mind.

While the identity capital applies mainly to finding the right career for you, think of it as something that you will also bring to the table when seeking for a partner. It is your character while you are single that puts value in who you are, and the partner you will eventually choose is a reflection of the qualities you posses and the value that you place upon yourself.

brain and bodyBRAIN AND BODY: “Knowing what to overlook is one way older adults are typically wiser than young adults. With age comes what is known as ‘positivity effect’. We become more interested in positive information and our brains react less strongly to what negative information we do encounter,” says Meg Jay about how our minds adapt over time. Maybe it would be easier to explain what his point is when we listen to what Nike has to say: Just Do It.

Years of collective experiences, a plethora of good and bad, will leave most of us either shaken or enlightened. Either way, we should not let fear cloud our judgment. Overall, it is really more from a vantage point of intentionality that we should be operating from to help us make wise decision over time.

The critical stage of our lives must be focused on in a right manner to avoid hang ups as we grow older. Bear in mind that we could not go back to the past but we can make our today right to have a better future.


Disclaimer: Photos not mine.


6 thoughts on “The Defining Years

  1. Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave, be strong. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason. That way you can change the course of your life into a good one.


  2. Right choices in life are really made by matured people because they have the capacity to weigh the pro’s and cons of their decisions. This is true especially in the part of choosing the person to be loved forever. Young people’s mind are quite unstable in making decisions. Life is good when we make right decisions because it gives us directions.


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