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

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

by Meg Jay


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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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446561754
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/02/2013
Pages: 239
Sales rank: 7,581
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Meg Jay, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, and twentysomethings in particular. She is an assistant clinical professor at University of Virginia, and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Jay earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Defining Decade xi

Introduction: Real Time xiii


Identity Capital 3

Weak Ties 17

The Unthought Known 32

My Life Should Look Better on Facebook 41

The Customized Life 55


An Upmarket Conversation 69

Picking Your Family 81

The Cohabitation Effect 89

On Dating Down 100

Being in Like 112

The Brain And The Body

Forward Thinking 133

Calm Yourself 143

Outside In 156

Getting Along and Getting Ahead 165

Every Body 175

Do the Math 188

Epilogue: Will Things Work Out for Me? 199

Notes 203

Acknowledgments 237

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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Ryan245235 More than 1 year ago
Dear Dr. Meg Jay, I keep writing rough drafts to try to convey how important this book is to me at this moment in time in my life. I cannot express my thankfulness that someone gets it. I am 24 and always had the sense I was throwing my life away but everyone tells me "Don't worry it will all work out. You are only 24." Thank you for the cold water to the face. Oddly enough, being told that my decisions contradict a successful life, gives me a sense of happiness. I like most people assume once you graduate the best of your years are ahead, however, that is only true if you map it out. I was clueless and constantly borrowing my dads ego to solve my problems now its time to put my frontal lobe to work and figure out a game plan. Every single page directly applied to me and I now know I can make better decisions from here on out due to this very important piece of literature. I need to make my own happy ending and work my way backwards. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I literally want to buy this book for all of my twentysomething friends. Do they not know they are just throwing away their lives and there is nothing fun or great about tearing tickets, pouring someone a glass of water, folding clothes, not taking relationships seriously, and so forth? I never had a therapist but this book is all the therapy I need. I literally felt like you were talking to me directly, which in itself, was an awesome experience. Thank you so much for this book. Thank you. Sincerely, Ryan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book is very helpful for the soon-to-be twenty, or in all ready. It talks about a variety of things one can relate to nowadays and at times makes you think about if you're doing things right. Talks about happiness and if you are doing it for yourself or others, Jobs and how its viewed by most or some twentysomethings and a settlement rather than a chance to peruse a successful life, not the least, love. I'm 19 and even though my brother said it was silly for me to read this, I still did, and I liked it a lot. I've recommended it to my friends, and I recommend it to you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The people who need to read this the most are people in the arts and humanities. We thrive in a culture of adolescence, and it is the reason so many of us end up selling novelties instead of starring in shows. If you want to sell novelties, great! That is an important part of our culture and economy. However, don't spend 200,000 dollars on a liberal or performing arts degree to then not use it. I would also highlight this books poignancy and wonderful approach of demonstrating how the people in this book are real, and have the concerns you do! Soon to graduate from college, I am far more prepared after reading this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't decide if this book inspires me or terrifies me, but I am glad I read it
a-joy More than 1 year ago
This is a five star book: a must read for ages 18-35. As a twenty-something, closer to 30, reading this book was like waking up from a coma. First you feel empowered, and then you need to figure out what it is you want, then plan how to attain it. Granted life is full of surprises and we all face tragedies but we need to remember we all deserve the chance to try to accomplish our personal and professional goals. Dr. Meg Jay writes about her clients, their experiences, and her own opinions with myth-busting honesty and genuine care. She is the kind of therapist everyone should go to because she's been there/done that and realized how important our twenties are as a foundation for the rest of our lives. We think we have time to be free and find ourselves without direction, that it's okay to put our major decisions on hold: BUT IT"S NOT! We have to consider our careers and future families now so that we have attained them before it is too late: see her chapter on fertility. While today's economy has most of us (age 20s, 30s, 40s) in a depressed crisis, money is not the only issue that defines us as adults. We need enrichment, friendships, and romantic relationships that support us and last. A few points that stuck out for me were: (1) this feeling of being stranded in the ocean, unsure which direction to swim towards, hoping we don't make the wrong decision and (2) that we can choose our families. This book makes you think. This book makes you feel. This book can change your self-perception. This book might get you (back) on track.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book I feel that I can at least make it a year at this job. Also that maybe graduate school is not impossible if I just remember the work I've already put in to get me there. I'm still scared out of my mind about moving very far away from home, but I think that's also what I need. So, Dr. Jay thanks for this book and the insight I sorely needed.
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Renee_B More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my eighteen year old son and he is really enjoying it. I read the first couple of chapters and it made good sense. If you would like to help your adult children, who might be lacking in what direction to focus on (such as college major). This is a great book to make them realize now is the time to figure it out. Don't waste your twenties, they are gone before you know it.
morningelegance More than 1 year ago
Very, very good book. I just turned 20 this year, and this is exactly what I needed. I read over half of the book in one sitting. Very helpful and motivating!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am buying this for every twentysomething I know.  And every parent of a twentysomething. 
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BEBA21 More than 1 year ago
Great book! I am halfway done with it. I thought this books would do me no good due to it being mainly about the 20's and I am so close to falling into the 30's. It is however, a very good and inspiring book. I thought that before reading this book that I had done my life backwards. Meaning no partying and jumping straight into marriage, a home, and kids. But this book really made me feel a whole lot better about my decisions. It is a must read!
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Being that I just finished up college/graduate school and I'm now working at my first official "big girl" job this book helps put a lot of things in perspective! No one every teaches you in school how to deal with life and your first few moments out in the real world can be pretty scary. Great advice and a quick read, I couldn't put it down and I can't wait to re-read this book just for the sake of highlighting some of the great key points!