The Defining Decade

Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now


By Meg Jay

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The Defining Decade has changed the way millions of twentysomethings think about their twenties—and themselves. Revised and reissued for a new generation, let it change how you think about you and yours.

Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. In The Defining Decade, Meg Jay argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized the most transformative time of our lives.

Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of 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 take the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.

Also included in this updated edition: 

  • Up-to-date research on work, love, the brain, friendship, technology, and fertility
  • What a decade of device use has taught us about looking at friends—and looking for love—online
  • 29 conversations to have with your partner—or to keep in mind as you search for one
  • A social experiment in which "digital natives" go without their phones
  • A Reader's Guide for book clubs, classrooms, or further self-reflection


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Table of Contents


Copyright Page

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This book is about my work with twentysomethings, as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia, and as a clinical professor at the University of Virginia, and previously as a clinician in Berkeley, California, and a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley. Throughout these pages, I do my best to tell the personal, and sometimes poignant, stories of the clients and students who taught me about the twentysomething years. To protect their privacy, I have changed their names and the details of their lives. In many cases, I have created composites from those with similar experiences and with whom I had similar sessions and conversations. I hope every twentysomething who reads this book sees him- or herself in the stories I include, but a resemblance to any particular twentysomething is coincidental.


The Defining Decade

In a rare study of life-span development, researchers at Boston University and University of Michigan examined dozens of life stories, written by prominent, successful people toward the end of their lives. They were interested in "autobiographically consequential experiences," or the circumstances and people that had the strongest influence on how life unfolded thereafter. While important events took place from birth until death, those that determined the years ahead were most heavily concentrated during the twentysomething years.

It would make sense that as we leave home or college and become more independent there is a burst of self-creation, a time when what we do determines who we will become. It might even seem like adulthood is one long stretch of autobiographically consequential experiences—that the older we get, the more we direct our own lives. This is not true.

In our thirties, consequential experiences start to slow. School will be over or nearly so. We will have invested time in careers or made the choice not to. We, or our friends, may be in relationships and starting families. We may own homes or have other responsibilities that make it difficult to change directions. With about 80 percent of life's most significant events taking place by age thirty-five, as thirtysomethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our twentysomething years.

The deceptive irony is that our twentysomething years may not feel all that consequential. It is easy to imagine that life's significant experiences begin with big moments and exciting encounters, but this is not how it happens.

Researchers in this same study found that most of the substantial and lasting events—those that led to career success, family fortune, personal bliss, or lack thereof—developed across days or weeks or months with little immediate dramatic effect. The importance of these experiences was not necessarily clear at the time but, in retrospect, the subjects recognized that these events had sharply defined their futures. To a great extent, our lives are decided by far-reaching twentysomething moments we may not realize are happening at all.

This book is about recognizing those defining twentysomething moments. It's about why your twenties matter, and how to make the most of them now.


Real Time

Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain

You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today

And then one day you find, ten years has got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

—David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, "Time"

Almost invariably, growth and development has what's called a critical period. There's a particular period of maturation in which, with external stimulation of the appropriate kind, the capacity will pretty suddenly develop and mature. Before that and later than that, it's either harder or impossible.

—Noam Chomsky, linguist

When Kate started therapy, she had been waiting tables and living—and fighting—with her parents for more than a year. Her father called to schedule her first appointment, and both of them presumed that father-daughter issues would come quickly to the fore. But what most struck me about Kate was that her twentysomething years were wasting away. Having grown up in New York City, at age twenty-six and now living in Virginia, she still did not have a driver's license, despite the fact that this limited her employment opportunities and made her feel like a passenger in her own life. Not unrelated to this, Kate was often late to our appointments.

When Kate graduated from college, she had hoped to experience the expansiveness of the twentysomething years, something she was strongly encouraged to do by her parents. Her mother and father married just out of college because they wanted to go to Europe together and, in the early 1970s, this was not condoned by either of their families. They honeymooned in Italy and came back pregnant. Kate's dad put his accounting degree to work while Kate's mom got busy raising four kids, of whom Kate was the youngest. So far, Kate had spent her own twenties trying to make up for what her parents missed. She thought she was supposed to be having the time of her life but mostly she felt stressed and anxious. "My twenties are paralyzing," she said. "No one told me it would be this hard."

Kate filled her mind with twentysomething drama to distract herself from the real state of her life, and she seemed to want the same for her therapy hours. When she came to sessions, she kicked off her Toms, hiked up her jeans, and caught me up on the weekend. Our conversations often went multimedia as she pulled up e-mails and photos to show me, and texts chirped into our sessions with late-breaking news. Somewhere between the weekend updates, I found out the following: She thought she might like to work in fund-raising, and she hoped to figure out what she wanted to do by age thirty. "Thirty is the new twenty," she said. This was my cue.

I am too passionate about the twenties to let Kate, or any other twentysomething, waste his or her time. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, I have seen countless twentysomethings spend too many years living without perspective. What is worse are the tears shed by thirtysomethings and fortysomethings because they are now paying a steep price—professionally, romantically, economically, reproductively—for a lack of vision in their twenties. I liked Kate and wanted to help her so I insisted she be on time for sessions. I interrupted stories about the latest hookup to ask about the status of her driver's license and her job search. Perhaps most important, Kate and I debated about what therapy—and her twenties—was supposed to be about.

Kate wondered aloud whether she ought to spend a few years in therapy figuring out her relationship with her father or whether she should use that money and time on a Eurail pass to search for who she was. I voted for neither. I told Kate that while most therapists would agree with Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worth living," a lesser-known quote by American psychologist Sheldon Kopp might be more important here: "The unlived life is not worth examining."

I explained it would be irresponsible of me to sit quietly while I watched the most foundational years of Kate's life go parading by. It would be reckless for us to focus on Kate's past when I knew her future was in danger. It seemed unfair to talk about her weekends when it was her weekdays that made her so unhappy. I also genuinely felt that Kate's relationship with her father could not change until she had something new to bring to it.

Not long after these conversations, Kate dropped onto the couch in my office. Uncharacteristically teary and agitated, she stared out the window and bounced her legs nervously as she told me about Sunday brunch with four friends from college. Two were in town for a conference. One had just returned from recording lullabies in Greece for her dissertation research. Another brought along her fiancé. As the group sat at their table, Kate looked around and felt behind. She wanted what her friends had—a job or a purpose or a boyfriend—so she spent the rest of the day looking for leads on Craigslist. Most of the jobs (and the men) didn't seem interesting. The ones that did she was starting to doubt she could get. Kate went to bed feeling vaguely betrayed.

In my office, she said, "My twenties are more than half over. Sitting at that restaurant, I realized I didn't have anything to show for myself. No real résumé. No relationship. I don't even know what I'm doing in this town." She reached for a tissue and broke into tears. "I really got kicked by the notion that getting clear on your path was overrated. I wish I'd been more… I don't know… intentional."

It wasn't too late for Kate, but she did need to get going. By the time Kate's therapy ended, she had her own apartment, a driver's license, a boyfriend with some potential, and a job as a fund-raiser for a nonprofit. Even her relationship with her father was improving. In our last sessions together, Kate thanked me for helping her catch up. She said she finally felt like she was living her life "in real time."

The twentysomething years are real time and ought to be lived that way. A thirty-is-the-new-twenty culture has told us that the twenties don't matter. Freud once said, "Love and work, work and love… that's all there is," and these things take shape later than they used to.

When Kate's parents were in their twenties, the average twenty-one-year-old was married and caring for a new baby. School ended with high school or maybe college, and young parents focused on making money and keeping house. Because one income was typically enough to support a family, men worked but two-thirds of women did not. The men and women who did work could expect to stay in the same field for life. In those days, the median home price in the United States was $17,000. Divorce and the Pill were just becoming mainstream.

Then, in the span of one generation, came an enormous cultural shift. User-friendly birth control flooded the market and women flooded the workplace. By the new millennium, only about half of twentysomethings were married by age thirty and even fewer had children, making the twenties a time of newfound freedom. We began to hear that maybe college was too expensive and less necessary, yet graduate school was more necessary, and in either case there was time for "time off."

For hundreds of years, twentysomethings moved directly from being sons and daughters to being husbands and wives, but within just a few decades a new developmental period opened up. Waking up every day somewhere between their childhood homes and their own mortgages, twentysomethings like Kate weren't sure what to make of the time.

Almost by definition, the twenties became a betwixt-and-between time. A 2001 article in the Economist introduced the "Bridget Jones Economy" and a 2005 cover of Time ran with a headline "Meet the Twixters," both of which informed us that the twenties were now disposable years lubricated by disposable income. By 2007, the twenties were dubbed the odyssey years, a time meant for wandering. And journalists and researchers everywhere began to refer to twentysomethings with silly nicknames such as kidults, pre-adults, and adultescents.

Some say the twentysomething years are an extended adolescence while others call them an emerging adulthood. This so-called changing timetable for adulthood has demoted twentysomethings to "not-quite-adults" just when they need to engage the most. Twentysomethings like Kate have been caught in a swirl of hype and misunderstanding, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of our adult lives.

Yet even as we dismiss the twentysomething years, we fetishize them. The twentysomething years have never been more in the zeitgeist. Popular culture has an almost obsessive focus on the twenties such that these freebie years appear to be all that exist. Child celebrities and everyday kids spend their youth acting twenty, while mature adults and the Real Housewives dress, and are sculpted, to look twenty-nine. The young look older and the old look younger, collapsing the adult lifespan into one long twentysomething ride. Even a new term—amortality—has been coined to describe living the same way, at the same pitch, from our teens until death.

This is a contradictory and dangerous message. We are led to believe the twentysomething years don't matter, yet, with the glamorization of and near obsession with the twenties, there is little to remind us that anything else ever will. This causes too many men and women to squander the most transformative years of their adult lives, only to pay the price in decades to come.

Our cultural attitude toward the twenties is something like good old American irrational exuberance. Twenty-first-century twentysomethings have grown up alongside the dot-com craze, the supersize years, the housing bubble, and the Wall Street boom. Start-ups imagined slick websites would generate money and demand; individuals failed to consider the fat and calories that went along with supersizing fast food; homeowners banked on ever-appreciating homes; financial managers envisioned markets always on the rise. Adults of all ages let what psychologists call "unrealistic optimism"—the idea that nothing bad will ever happen to you—overtake logic and reason. Adults of all backgrounds failed to do the math. Now twentysomethings have been set up to be another bubble ready to burst.

Inside my office, I have seen the bust.

The Great Recession and its continuing aftermath have left many twentysomethings feeling naïve, even devastated. Twentysomethings are more educated than ever before, but a smaller percentage find work after college. Many entry-level jobs have gone overseas making it more difficult for twentysomethings to gain a foothold at home. With a contracting economy and a growing population, unemployment is at its highest in decades. An unpaid internship is the new starter job. About a quarter of twentysomethings are out of work and another quarter work only part-time. Twentysomethings who do have paying jobs earn less than their 1970s counterparts when adjusted for inflation.

Because short-term work has replaced long-term careers in our country, as jobs come and go so do twentysomethings themselves. The average twentysomething will have more than a handful of jobs in their twenties alone. One-third will move in any given year, leaving family and friends and résumés and selves scattered. About one in eight go back home to live with Mom or Dad, at least in part because salaries are down and college debt is up, with the number of students owing more than $40,000 having increased tenfold in the past ten years.

It seems everybody wants to be a twentysomething except for many twentysomethings themselves. All around, "thirty is the new twenty" is starting to get a new reaction: "God, I hope not."

Every day, I work with twentysomethings who feel horribly deceived by the idea that their twenties would be the best years of their lives. People imagine that to do therapy with twentysomethings is to listen to the adventures and misadventures of carefree people, and there is some of that. But behind closed doors, my clients have unsettling things to say:

  • I feel like I'm in the middle of the ocean. Like I could swim in any direction but I can't see land on any side so I don't know which way to go.
  • I feel like I just have to keep hooking up and see what sticks.
  • I didn't know I'd be crying in the bathroom at work every day.
  • 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.
  • My sister is thirty-five and single. I'm terrified that's going to happen to me.
  • I can't wait to be liberated from my twenties.
  • I'd better not still be doing this at thirty.
  • Last night I prayed for just one thing in my life to be certain.

There are fifty million twentysomethings in the United States, most of whom are living with a staggering, unprecedented amount of uncertainty. Many have no idea what they will be doing, where they will be living, or who they will be with in two or even ten years. They don't know when they will be happy or when they will be able to pay their bills. They wonder if they should be photographers or lawyers or designers or bankers. They don't know whether they are a few dates or many years from a meaningful relationship. They worry about whether they will have families and whether their marriages will last. Most simply, they don't know if their lives will work out and they don't know what to do.

Uncertainty makes people anxious, and distraction is the twenty-first-century opiate of the masses. So twentysomethings like Kate are tempted, and even encouraged, to turn away and be twixters, to close their eyes and hope for the best. A 2011 article in New York magazine arguing that "the kids are actually sort of alright" explained that while today's twentysomethings face some of the worst economic conditions since World War II, they are optimistic. The article explained that with free music online "you don't need to have money to buy a huge record collection." Facebook, Twitter, Google, and free apps "have made life on a small budget a lot more diverting," it reassures.

There is a saying that "hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper." While hopefulness is a useful state of mind that may help many downtrodden twentysomethings get out of bed in the morning, at the end of the day they need more than optimism because at the end of their twenties many will want more than diversions and record collections.

I know this because even more compelling than my sessions with struggling twentysomethings are my sessions with the earliest twixters, the now-thirtysomethings and fortysomethings who wish they had done some things differently. I have witnessed the true heartache that accompanies the realization that life is not going to add up. We may hear that thirty is the new twenty, but—recession or not—when it comes to work and love and the brain and the body, forty is definitely not the new thirty.

Many twentysomethings assume life will come together quickly after thirty, and maybe it will. But it is still going to be a different life. We imagine that if nothing happens in our twenties then everything is still possible in our thirties. We think that by avoiding decisions now, we keep all of our options open for later—but not making choices is a choice all the same.

When a lot has been left to do, there is enormous thirtysomething pressure to get ahead, get married, pick a city, make money, buy a house, enjoy life, go to graduate school, start a business, get a promotion, save for college and retirement, and have two or three children in a much shorter period of time. Many of these things are incompatible and, as research is just starting to show, simply harder to do all at the same time in our thirties.

Life does not end at thirty, but it does have a categorically different feel. A spotty résumé that used to reflect twentysomething freedom suddenly seems suspect and embarrassing. A good first date leads not so much to romantic fantasies about "The One" as to calculations about the soonest possible time marriage and a baby might happen.

Of course, for many it does happen and, upon the birth of their first child, thirtysomething couples often speak of new purpose and meaning. There can also be a deep and heart-wrenching sense of regret: knowing it will be difficult to provide for their child as they now wish they could; finding that fertility problems or sheer exhaustion stand in the way of the families they now want; realizing they will be nearly sixty when their children go to college and maybe seventy at their weddings; recognizing they may never know their own grandchildren.

Parents like Kate's are so intent on protecting their kids from their brand of the midlife crisis—their regret over settling down too soon—that these parents fail to see an entirely new midlife crisis is afoot. The postmillennial midlife crisis is figuring out that while we were busy making sure we didn't miss out on anything, we were setting ourselves up to miss out on some of the most important things of all. It is realizing that doing something later is not automatically the same as doing something better. Too many smart, well-meaning thirtysomethings and fortysomethings grieve a little as they face a lifetime of catching up. They look at themselves—and at me sitting across the room—and say about their twenties, "What was I doing? What was I thinking?"

I urge twentysomethings to reclaim their twenties, their status as adults, and their futures. This book will show them why they should and how they can.

In the pages ahead, I want to convince you that thirty is not the new twenty. Not because twentysomethings don't or shouldn't settle down later than their parents did. Most everyone agrees that work and love are happening later at least as much because of economics as because they can. I want to persuade you that thirty is not the new twenty precisely because we settle down later than we used to. What this has done is made the twenties not an irrelevant downtime but a developmental sweet spot that comes only once.

In almost all areas of development, there is what is called a critical period, a time when we are primed for growth and change, when simple exposure can lead to dramatic transformation. Children effortlessly learn whatever language they hear before the age of five. We develop binocular vision between three and eight months of age. These critical periods are windows of opportunity when learning happens quickly. Afterward, things are not so easy.

The twenties are that critical period of adulthood.

These are the years when it will be easiest to start the lives we want. And no matter what we do, the twenties are an inflection point—the great reorganization—a time when the experiences we have disproportionately influence the adult lives we will lead.

In sections titled "Work," "Love," and "The Brain and the Body," we will learn about four separate—but interwoven—critical periods that unfold across the twentysomething years. In "Work," we find out why twentysomething jobs are likely the most professionally and economically consequential we will ever have—even though they may not look so good. In "Love," we will hear why our twentysomething relationship choices may be even more important than those at work. And in "The Brain and the Body," we will learn how our still-developing twentysomething brains are wiring us to be the adults we will become just as our twentysomething bodies kick off our most fertile years.

Journalists may throw their hands up with headlines that read "What Is It About Twentysomethings?" and "Why Won't They Just Grow Up?," but the twenties aren't a mystery. We do know how the twenties work, and twentysomethings everywhere deserve to know it too.

In the chapters ahead, I blend the latest research on adult development with the previously untold stories of my clients and students. I will share what psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, economists, human resources executives, and reproductive specialists know about the unique power of the twentysomething years and how they shape our lives. Along the way, I challenge some media-driven misconceptions about the twenties, and show how common wisdom about the twentysomething years is often wrong.

We will find out why it's the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will improve our lives most dramatically. We will learn how joining the world of work makes us feel better, not worse. We will hear why living together may not be the best way to test a relationship. We will learn how our personalities change more during our twenties than at any time before or after. We will see how we do pick our families, and not just our friends. We will understand how confidence grows not from the inside out, but from the outside in. We will hear how the stories we tell about ourselves affect whom we date and what jobs we get. We will start with why "Who am I?" is a question best answered not with a protracted identity crisis, but with one or two good pieces of something called identity capital.

Not long ago, twentysomethings like Kate's parents walked down the aisle before they thought through who they were. They made life's biggest decisions before their brains knew how to make them. Now twenty-first-century twentysomethings have the opportunity to build the lives they want—ones in which work, love, the brain and the body might all be in on it together. But this doesn't just happen with age, or optimism. It takes, as Kate said, intentionality, and some good information, or we will miss it. And for too long, good information has been hard to find.

A colleague of mine likes to say that twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plane is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest.

Likewise, in the twentysomething years, even a small shift can radically change where we end up in our thirties and beyond. The twenties are an up-in-the-air and turbulent time, but if we can figure out how to navigate, even a little bit at a time, we can get further, faster, than at any other stage in life. It is a pivotal time when the things we do—and the things we don't do—will have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.

So let's get going. The time is now.


Identity Capital


  • "Meg Jay takes the specific complaints of twenty something life and puts them to diagnostic use."—New Yorker
  • "Any recent college grad mired in a quarter-life crisis or merely dazed by the freedom of post-collegiate existence should consider it required reading."—, Staff Pick
  • "The professional and personal angst of directionless twentysomethings is given a voice and some sober counsel in this engaging guide. While Jay maintains that facing difficulties in one's 20s 'is a jarring--but efficient and often necessary--way to grow,' the author is sincere and sympathetic, making this well-researched mix of generational sociology, psychotherapy, career counseling, and relationship advice a practical treatise for a much-maligned demographic."—Publishers Weekly
  • "A clinical psychologist issues a four-alarm call for the 50 million 20-somethings in America.... A cogent argument for growing up and a handy guidebook on how to get there."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Excellently written, this book is sensitive to the emotional life of twentysomethings."—Library Journal
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE [is] just the wake up call many twentysomethings need."—The Coffin Factory
  • "I strongly recommend THE DEFINING DECADEfor anyone in their 20s trying to figure out their life's direction. You'll learn how to search productively, how to avoid being indulgent, and how to turn good opportunities into great ones."—Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?, co-author of Nurtureshock
  • "Before reading THE DEFINING DECADE I didn't know enough about the importance of our twenties to be concerned that I could mess it all up. Now that I do, I could worry myself into paralysis, or, as Meg Jay suggests, grab life by the helm--even if I still have no idea in hell where I'm going. Without a doubt, The Defining Decade will leave you eager to embark on what I now see can be the most exciting odyssey of one's life."—Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, editor of My Little Red Book
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE is the book twentysomethings have been waiting for. It will not tell you what you should do with your life, but it will inspire, motivate, and educate you to figure it out."—Rachel Simmons, author of The Good Girl
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE is eye-opening, important, and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it."—Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus
  • "Meg Jay brings a sharp intellect, expertise on the life cycle, and extensive clinical experience to this powerful book. Age and time, she argues, are not malleable, even if people live longer and our culture believes that everything is possible. Reading this book will benefit clinicians, cultural commentators, and twentysomethings themselves."—Nancy Chodorow, author of Individualizing Gender and Sexuality: Theory and Practice
  • "This fascinating, engaging book makes a convincing case that the twenties are the most transformative period of people's lives, and even better, shows readers how to get off the couch and live that decade well. It should be read by all young adults, their friends, their parents, their grandparents, their bosses, their siblings . . . really, by just about everyone!"—Timothy D. Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change
  • "Expecting to experience the joy of freedom and self-discovery, many young men and women find instead confusion, loneliness, and anomie. Jay is just the sort of guide that these twentysomethings and their parents need: sensitive, thoughtful, and wise."—Kay Hymowitz, author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE is a rare gem: a fresh, original contribution to the study of adult development that's also a pleasurable, almost effortless read."—Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life
  • "Blending the latest social science research with real life accounts of twentysomething clients and students, Jay provides valuable and compelling insights and direction for twentysomethings, their parents, and parents of future twentysomethings."—Leslie C. Bell, PhD, author of Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom.
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE is a must read for the twentysomething who is looking to build a meaningful, fulfilling, and rich life. Dr. Jay clearly illustrates some of the biggest mistakes we can make in our twenties. But more important she gives advice about how to make decisions that will set twentysomethings up for success in the workplace and intimate relationships in their thirties and beyond."—C. J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School
  • "THE DEFINING DECADE does an excellent job of conveying the latest social science on twentysomething relationships and helping young adults to understand why these relationships can be so confusing and challenging...Young adults looking for insights about love, life, and marriage should turn to Dr. Meg Jay's engaging and insightful new book."—W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia
  • "Meg Jay masterfully blends cutting-edge research and life stories of psychotherapy clients to make a compelling case that this age period is crucial for launching love and work. You will learn a lot from this book and it will spur you to seize control of your future now."—Avril Thorne, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • "Listen to me closely. If you know someone already in or entering the third decade of life, or their parents, or their therapist, you must give them this book. Meg Jay slams a cultural corrective on our desk. Pay attention. The twenties are the defining decade of human life where the foundation of every future is laid...No one should turn thirty without having read this book."—J. Anderson Thomson Jr., MD; staff psychiatrist, University of Virginia, department of Student Health; co-author, Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Facing Bipolar Disorder

On Sale
Mar 16, 2021
Page Count
336 pages

Meg Jay

About the Author

Meg Jay, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia who specializes in twentysomethings. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and in gender studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books, The Defining Decade and Supernormal, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and on NPR and BBC. Her TED talk "Why 30 is Not the New 20" is among the most watched to date.

Learn more about this author