Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Novels With Nell - the Defining Decade

Oh my goodness y'all I am so excited for today's book recommendation. Nell likes to make fun of the fact that I never take her recommendations but for once we were reading the same book at the same time. I started to tell her about it the other night on facetime and was so excited to give Nell a recommendation of my own only to find out that she was already reading the same book. Disappointment that I couldn't be the one to claim I recommended it to her aside, I flew through this book and couldn't agree more with what Nell said. My friends here in Greenville are probably already over hearing me talk about how good and encouraging this book is to which they all nod and pretend interested. I finally know how Nell feels when I don't take her recommendations, ha!

Meg Jay, PhD

Sorry, no novel today. One of my friend’s parents gave this to a few of us as a little college graduation gift. Now I normally am not really big on books like this, (Dorothy loves them), while I typically go for fiction, but The Defining Decade is worth the read. And I feel like a lot of you readers are, or will soon be, in this age group, making this particularly relevant.
Personally, it made me feel better knowing I’m not the only one who feels like the world after college is a little unclear. The endless possibilities are both exciting and terrifying. Hopefully some of y’all can also relate to this feeling: “Our twenties can be like living beyond time. When we graduate from school, we leave behind the only lives we have ever known, ones that have been neatly packaged in semester-sized chunks with goals nestled within. Suddenly, life opens up and the syllabi are gone. There are days and weeks and months and years, but no clear way to know when or why any one thing should happen. It can be a disorienting, cavelike existence. As one twentysomething so astutely put it, ‘The twentysomething years are a whole new way of thinking about time. There’s this big chunk of time and a whole bunch of stuff needs to happen somehow’” (189). 

“Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us that the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But what if thirty is not the new twenty? Meg Jay argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives. Drawing on more than ten years of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, Jay 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 how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than any other time in adulthood–if we use this time well.”
The book is divided into three sections: Work, Love, and the Brain and the Body (aka Health). The gist of it is saying that, while there’s this move to “have fun” in your twenties and worry about the adult stuff when you’re really an adult, at thirty, can be more negative than positive. It’s not saying you have to have all your ducks in a row right now but having goals and being intentional with your twenties, rather than saying “wherever the wind takes me”, will provide you with a sense of purpose, which is a positive thing. “It’s unsettling not to know the future and, in a way, even more daunting to consider that what we are doing with our twentysomething lives might be determining it. It is almost a relief to imagine that these years aren’t real, that twentysomething jobs and relationships don’t count. But a career spent studying adult development tells me this is far from true. And years of listening closely to clients and students tells me that, deep down, twentysomethings want to be taken seriously, and they want their lives to be taken seriously. They want to know that what they do matters- and it does” (200).
Me again, I wanted to give my personal take on some of the sections. The work section was without a doubt my favorite in the book. It took me no time to read it and there were so many helpful things for me to take away from it. From the discussion of meaningful capital to the strength of weak ties I found myself sitting at the pool wishing I had a highlighter to emphasize what she was saying! The Love section is good although I feel like some of it was common sense. The perspective provided by the stories in it were good and I think could be a good reminder that other people are dealing with some of the same things as you. The last section on the Body was my least favorite but still good. Overall I can't recommend this book enough and am glad to have Nell's recommendation to back up my own!


  1. I remember this was on the last blog post. I'm also more of a fiction person, but this book does sound good!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. As a recent college graduate, I feel like I need to get my hands on this books asap!

  3. I love reading books at the same time as a friend so that we can talk about our thoughts!

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