Today is my 27th birthday. Or, as I’ve been thinking of it for the past few years, my almost 30th birthday.
I know most people don’t look forward to turning 30, but I can’t wait. I’m not exactly sure when this desire to just turn 30 already started, or exactly why it exists, but I think it has to do with the fact that - until very recently - I was fairly certain I was doing the twentysomething thing all wrong.
I got married at 22. We both took safe not-that-exciting jobs right after graduating college. We bought a home at 23. We got a dog shortly after buying the home. We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky and blessed to be so stable. But when we look around, we feel a little boring. Shouldn't we be working at a coffee shop to allow time to devote to our hobbies? Should I have gone to grad school because I wasn't sure I wanted an office job? Should we be traveling more, living off our savings while we're still young enough to do so?
I think the boring feeling bothers me vastly more than it bothers my husband. I actually don’t think it bothers him at all. He’s known all along when I just discovered after a friend forced me to read The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, Ph.D. If your in your twenties and feeling a bit uncertain, I highly reccomend this book.
As someone who is vocal about wanting her 20s to be over, I kind of rolled my eyes when my friend insisted I read this book. But she said if I did we could discuss it over happy hour, and there’s nothing I love more than talking about books with a drink at hand, so I started reading.
Dr. Jay called into question all the reasons I felt a twinge of regret about my twentysomething years. She argues that rather than being a time to shun adult responsibility for exploration and finding oneself, the twenties are a time to set a person up for success for the decades that follow. She doesn’t say adventure and exploration are unimportant, but she encourages twentysomethings to do so while also having a worthwhile job and relationships.
As I read each section of this book - broken into chapters about work, love, and the brain and the body - I breathed almost a decades worth of sighs of relief. I’m not doing my twenties wrong. As romantic as it sounds to move abroad and be a bartender for a few years while I figure out exactly what I want to do with my life, doing so wouldn’t really have gotten me any closer to a purpose. What she suggests, and what I did without realizing it, is to take a job that offers the opportunity to create a consistent body of work and make connections. This is how we can figure out what we want to do, and how we can meet the people who will help us do it.
I’ve always been highly responsible. I don’t like taking risks or breaking rules. I know this can be a limitation, but I’ve decided to stop feeling so much guilt about this aspect of my nature. What I’m up to now, at 27, will allow me the freedom and flexibility I’ll need to fully experience all that is good about the thirties and forties. Although I rolled my eyes, I’m so thankful my friend introduced me to this book. I’m going to make the most of what’s left of my twenties, and I’m going to love it!