Twenty Somethings and Meg Jay's, "The Defining Decade"

Meg Jay is a genius. At least that is how I feel after reading her book, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now.” Stating that this book is life changing would be an understatement, and, quite honestly, a disgrace to Meg Jay, who I am sure would thank her wonderful clients, who she truly believes underestimate themselves. A brief background of the author states that Jay has a PhD and works as a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult and twenty something development. During the introduction Jay explains that “twenty somethings are adults too, and they deserve a seat at the table in a conversation about their own lives.”

Moving through several twenty something client scenarios, Jay explains her thought process and responds in a way that makes it easily applicable to her intended audience. Jay is not specifically targeting early, mid, or late twenties; she is targeting the entire generation. The most interesting factor in this tactic is that, although each situation she addresses is far removed from the next, they are always relatable to the reader in some shape or form. I was able to find myself in every single one of Jay’s discussed clients, which made me feel like I was not reading, but sitting in the room on a small couch talking to her myself.

There is no better novel than one that can vividly transport you to a distorted reality, and there is no better “self-help” book that can outwardly change the way you perceive yourself. From the forward to the epilogue, Jay is consistent in telling the reader what they need to hear, not what they want, or even expect. Her responses and explanations are honest and consistent. Not only is her voice clear and followable, her statements and time line are organized in a way that almost takes you through an emotional and mental journey that starts on the surface and sinks slowly within. Without making you feel uncomfortable in any way, the chapter titles, quotes, stories, thought processes, and response conclusions leave no room for inquisitive thoughts other than, "What can I do right now to apply this to my life?"

In no way does Jay claim to be a “know-it-all.” Even in her profession, her stylistic precision in writing makes her subconsciously inconceivable to question, but she openly admits when she does not know how to respond to a situation, especially when she first meets a new client. Without spoiling the wonders within these pages, I can honestly say that in each of the three focus themes: work, love, and the brain and the body, my perspective evolved and is now irreversible. In the middle of reading, I would catch myself getting upset, not because I was angry with what she had to say, but because the information was so great that I would never be able to look at my life in the same light again, and that meant change would have to take place.

On a personal note, I am so glad that I found "The Defining Decade," and was able to read it at the age of nineteen. Having the opportunity to read in depth about how I can get the most out of my twenties before they even start, in my opinion, is extremely lucky. Being completely aware that not all of you are the same age as I am, I would like to note that it is never too late to let Meg Jay's masterpiece influence your life. As a millenial, Jay's book helped me understand the reality of things I wasn't planning on even considering until my thirties. Her perspective also gave me food for thought regarding heavy topics in my life that I had no idea how to even address at this point. I have always been an assertive person, but ever since I finished her book I have been even more bold in regard to the decisions in my life. Additively, this book is not just for females. However you classify yourself, if you are in the twenty something category, this book is for you!

Everyone has comfort zones, and this book pushes its readers outside of them at a pace that is gradual, and naturally leads them to the question in the epilogue before even reading it; “Will things work out for me?” Nearly all of the discussed clients had success stories. For some, being stubborn did drag out the process, but eventually they got their “happily ever afters,” which is not always about love, and doesn’t mean that there will never be hard times again. Therefore, it can be concluded that Jay’s prerogative, especially when addressing millennials who are trying to defy gen x standards of how their lives should pan out, is as she states throughout her book time and time again, “thirty is not the new twenty,” and there are always things that you can do right now to not only prepare for a better future, but enjoy a more fulfilling present.


The book is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble for $17.00, and ebook for $12.99. To get a quick preview, you can listen to Meg Jay's TED talk by following this link: