After watching Meg Jay, Clinical Psychologist, in a TED documentary titled "Why 30 is not the new 20,” I finally felt that what I have been trying to relay and conceptualise for the past few years of my twenties, had been put together and boosted my inspiration to write about this.
Coming from a family lineage of strongly opinionated and “experienced” women, I find myself at the punch line of most jokes when it comes to speaking about "life” or "maturity." Throughout my adolescent years, I was always given an advance on responsibility and life, so it comes as no surprise that I can relate to and have an insatiable urge to give my input each time they have an “adult” conversation (I still laugh each time I repeat the infamous titled “adult” conversation, “The Tribe of The Wise,” as I like to refer to them).
There is no doubt that I respect their experiences, their knowledge and wisdom ranging from the mid 30's to early 50's.
"Life begins at 30," progressed to “Life begins at 40,” which inevitably went on to "Life begins when you're 50". Then the “You know nothing”; “When I was your age, I thought I knew everything too”; “You'll get here one day”.... as their years progress, so does this "maturity" and beginning of life of which I will never get to as long as they are ageing. Lol does life not inevitably end sometime after 50? (Okay that was a joke, don't get your knickers in a twist divas).
In addition to this, (like many other women in their 20's), I also got married at the age of 20 and had my daughter just after turning 21. Shocker, hey? Hold on, I also chose a spiritual path for my life by embracing suicide bombing, religious scheming, subservient wifeing, Islam —well that's how the rest of the world sees it right?
“Poor girl, her life is ruined”; “At 20 you are not mature enough to handle a baby and a marriage”; “You will have to obey a husband and fry samoosas your whole life”; “Change your child's nappy now”- (one of the most annoying ones I remember)....”You are gonna burn for turning your back on Jesus,” The bible bashers sang.
The older generation surrounding me may not have intentionally showed their lack of faith in my abilities or decisions, but it is surely felt through their subtle (or not so subtle) suggestions.
Point is, I do not think I know everything and I doubt I ever will. What I do know is that for the most of us, our 20's is where life is happening. And as difficult as it may be to fathom, this “adolescent" actually does know what she wants— it wasn't handed to me without a choice. I am not making lemonade here, I picked the fruit I liked and went on to make a fruit salad that I enjoy.
So how does this bring us 20 somethings to unveiling our shutters of naivety to the decade we are in or the so called “extended adolescence”? Truth is, some of us have adopted some wisdom and fine tuned the “The Tribe of The Wise” advice.
Just because you're older, doesn't necessarily mean you are wiser.
To the disbelief of The Tribe of The Wise, could it possibly be true that some younger people do in fact posses a little more wisdom? For one— the 20 generation are more open-minded and less clouded by their experiences which in turn form objective views. Some 20-somethings have lived and learnt from what they saw their parents do and know where they're headed.
A big portion of the 20 generation are getting married younger, buying houses at a younger age, earning higher salaries, people are even dying younger.
The other portion of the 20 generation, are hardly aware of how significant this stage of their lives are and how crucial it is in defining their character. This is the decade to do things that add value to who you are and is an investment to who you will become next. The decisions and experiences that occur within this decade will determine your 30 something self saying “should have”; “would have”; “could have”.
Ask any 30 something what they could have done to change themselves (aka defined them today), they'll jump right back to their 20's.
The facts according to Clinical Psychologist, Meg Jay are:
- 80% of life's most defining moments take place by age 35, this means that 8 out of every 10 of your defining decisions, experiences and ah-ha moments would have happened by your mid 30's.
- The first 10 years of a career has the most exponential impact on how much money you are going to earn.
- The brain caps off it's second and last growth spurt in your 20's and rewires itself for adulthood, this means that whatever you want to change about yourself- now is the time.
- Personality changes more in your 20's than any other time in your life
- Female fertility peaks at age 28 and then things get trickier after the age of 35.
Many people would agree that 30 is a better time to settle down than in your 20's, and this could be right for some people but getting married in your 20's is not necessarily a recipe for disaster.
Marriage is definitely hard work whether at 20, 40 or 50. Not for the faint hearted to say the least. I am married and I know that there is no unicorn who shits rainbows in this fairytale, but we are working at it. I am happy with the life I chose and wouldn't have it any other way. I do not fry samoosas regularly but I enjoy the structure and sense of duty I have. I haven't had a childish affair, dropped my baby in a black bag yet... sooo I think its fair to say there may be a sufficient amount of maturity in the bag. I am building my first decade of my career and hopefully by my 30's I will be able to pull out the sail and enjoy the smooth sailing and reap the rewards.
What I have noticed about women in their 30's that I know personally, is cramming.
After living through the identity crisis of their 20's, spinning around for a while thinking “I'll start my career when I am 30”, are women who are 30 something trying to jump start a career, find a man quickly and have kids in a much shorter time. Then comes the realization that you can't have the career you now want, the children you want and end up looking back to say “What was I doing the whole time? What was I thinking.”
I'm sure you all have a picture in your head of someone like this.
“Dating in my 20's was like playing musical chairs, everyone was running around and having fun but then sometime around 30 it's like someone turned the music off and everyone started sitting down. I didn't want to be the only one standing up, so sometimes I think I married my husband because he was the closest chair at the time.”_Meg Jay, The Defining Decade.
I am in no way saying you should get too serious too quickly and have no fun. Sometimes trying on the “dress” that looks amazing but you know doesn't suit you... is good for the fun, but when you don't know what it is you want, you'll just keep trying on the misfits and wasting your time.
There probably is no real perfect age to get married as I see the same issues from 20-somethings to 50-somethings. When you feel prepared and also when you're at the right time to prepare, is probably the best way to go at it.
The thing I learnt as a young wife, is that these first few years are more about learning about yourself than your partner. The frustration or even shock when discovering yourself, now that, could be the recipe for disaster.
And so I have realized that the best time to start working on your marriage, is before you even have one. Knowing what you want is probably the first step.
We all know the old cliche, “You can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family.”
True while you were growing up yes, but when you partner with someone, you actually do have the choice.
“Picking your family is all about consciously choosing who and what you want, rather than just making it work or killing time with whoever happens to choose you.”_ Meg Jay.
I am no Stepford wife, and yes marriage is not on the cards for everyone. For those who will wait to get married in their 30's, they should be aware to use their developmental stages in their 20's to prepare for when they do. What is guaranteed is that within this mentally and physical state of the twenties decade, it is the perfect timing to push yourself the furthest you most likely ever will, and if not discovering yourself for the sake of a future marriage, do it for yourself.
Use your 20's to invest in your identity capital, let go of the identity crisis and build yourself now. Do that internship and fuel your career and net worth for the future. Have some faith in that Start up idea you have, even if it fails, now is the time to fail and learn because a Start up is never a success without failure (even Apple had to fail a few times, Steve Jobs even had to get fired too) and this gets harder to do when you're older.
Surround yourself with like-minded peers with whom you can share ideas, thoughts and ambitions and network yourself to know the right people who will direct you to the next stepping stone.
I have realized that friends, well, they come and go and so you CAN choose your family now, you just cannot force your friends to stay.
Use this decade to educate yourself about yourself and choose to not be defined by “what you didn't do or what you didn't know” only to nominate yourself into the Tribe of The Wise and echo your should haves on to the next generation.