By AMY STOCKWELL
Mamamia’s editor, Jamila Rizvi wrote on Friday that she is sick of hearing that ‘30 is the new 20’. Jam is concerned about her mates who are wasting their 20s by working in dead-end jobs and dating dud partners (Hi, everyone!).
Jam dropped some truth bombs on her friends whose motivation is on the fritz: “Dismissing your entire 20s as just good fun doesn’t make you a successful, happy or fulfilled 30 year old. It makes you a lazy, lonely and confused 30 year old who is wondering where the hell the last decade went.”
This question of whether your 20s are the most important period in your life or a dumping ground for all of your worst impulses was the theme of a TED Talk by clinical psychologist Dr Meg Jay, who “specialises in twenty-somethings” in her psychology practice.
Dr Jay (and Jamila) want 20-somethings to straighten up and fly right and stop wasting their “defining decade of adulthood”. Have a little ambition kids!
In her TED Talk, Dr Jay wants to tell all 20-somethings three things. Firstly, don’t waste your 20s having an identity crisis. Build your “identity capital” and do something that adds value to your career. Secondly, abandon your “urban tribe” (your friends). They won’t get you anywhere. Instead, use your “weak ties” (your networks) to get a job. Third and finally, you can and should choose your family. Be “as intentional with love as you are with work”. Marry someone who is good for you and be resolute about it.
Now, if this all resonates with you, that’s great. If this kick-starts your heart, even better. If this makes you put down your disco juice and pick up your folio, that is wonderful. Stop reading this. Go, fly! FLY!
But if Dr Meg Jay’s analysis leaves you a little underwhelmed, settle in, stay a while.
I don’t buy what Dr Jay is selling. Her TED Talk strikes me as the counsel of someone trying to justify their own life choices and, in Dr Jay’s case, to validate the advice that she has given others. Dr Jay probably doesn’t mind that I feel this way because I’m not her target audience. She’s not trying to sell her ethos (or her book) to me. I’m in my middish-30s. She’s talking to people in their 20s or parents of people in their 20s, I imagine.
Yet, while she isn’t talking to me, she is making some fairly pejorative judgments about the lives of people who don’t live the way she prescribes. She’s telling us that we haven’t lived our 20s according to her model, then we’re stuffed career-wise.
If we haven’t formed a strategic union with a significant other (and some other hetero-normative rubbish), we are guilty of sabotaging our own happiness and may not have someone to list as our ‘In Case Of Emergency’ person (this is apparently The Worst). If we don’t get out on the hustings, we might make the life-altering mistake of “benign neglect” in this, our defining decade of adulthood.