There’s been a surge of posts against millenials. If your social media feed looking anything like mine, you saw this woman dissing millenials shared by multiple people. It’s fine. We’re used to it. Heck, we’ve been the butt of people’s jokes or blamed for all the world’s problems since the early 2000’s. We’re entitled, yet we’re broke. We’re budding entrepreneurs, yet we have no work ethic. We are paving the way of technology, yet we don’t know how to cope without our phones. We are the future, but we’re terrible people.
And you wonder why our generation has such high anxiety.
Well, I have something to say about that.
GET OFF OUR BACKS!!
I am a part of the generation defined as millenial. And you know what, I work damn hard. Since college I have worked anywhere from 1-3 jobs at a time so that I could pay all my own bills. And I know a lot of other millenials who are busting ass too. Sure there are some that give our generation a bad rap. But I’ve also met, even managed, my share of busy-body boomers and let me just say, you’re not a peach to be around all the time either.
So to my fellow millenials who are trying to pave their own path in a pessimistic world, let me share with you what I’ve learned coming down the pike so that you can know in your very gut that you are seen, you are worth listening to, and you will survive all the crap people say about you on the internet. And most importantly, I believe in you.
Truth: Life is messy.
No matter how old you are, that’s a fact. We’re led to believe that as we age, we get wiser. We expect that things won’t be as difficult to figure out in adulthood– that we’ll be more confident in our abilities, that we’ll learn to love our bodies and wish we hadn’t shamed them so much when we were young. And while all that is true, we absolutely gain perspective and experience, life can still be just as confusing as it was before.
Life is messy, even as an adult.
We all deal with setbacks in our lives. Didn’t get in the program you wanted to, didn’t win the contest, didn’t get the job, didn’t get the boy/girl. We don’t know when these hardships will hit us. We don’t know how we’ll respond. We just have to do our best and hope we come out stronger.
When we are in the midst of a dilemma, it feels all consuming. We lose sleep worrying about the what if’s, we stress eat all the chocolate in the house. But once we’re past the unknowing stage of things, it turns into the Lord Voldemort of life lines – “that period that shall not be named.”
I, like so many millenials, believed that by the time I turned 30, I’d “have it all figured out.” That is just not the case.
But what I have learned is that’s completely ok.
So don’t let the negative things they say about our generation dictate your life. You are the main character in your own story.
Remember You Can Always Start Over
One of the most positive things to come out of the millenial generation is our abundant optimism. My parents’ generation was hard set in the belief that you worked for one place until retirement and that was that. For millenials, that’s just not the case. We are the generation that exemplifies multiple careers and life experience. We change our jobs, we take time off to travel and we work from home as needed. We are paving a new kind of entrepreneurship and that’s fucking exciting.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
That expectation to “have it all figured out” is the greatest barrier to actually doing so. Who cares if the girl next to you makes life look easier? You never know what others are dealing with when they leave the office. You never know what the story of a relationship is except the one you’re in. So don’t spend your time imagining impossible scenarios around you that make you feel less than. Be hardcore. Be your best self.
Never Stop Learning
Think about your favorite teachers and mentors you had in school. What made them inspiring, trustworthy and encouraging? I bet one of their skillsets was listening to you and treating you as someone with valuable ideas and talents. Reflect that back into the world. Never stop learning from those around you, whether it’s an older coworker who’s been in the business longer or your five your old niece who colors outside the lines. Being open to the things others can teach you, will help you be a better listener, learner, and teacher too.
Live in the Moment
It’s far too easy to beat yourself up over age timelines. You know you’ve made them. “By the time I’m 30, I will…” It’s great to set goals, you should do that. But don’t forget to live in the moment. Your goals need to be realistic and manageable. Wanting to be a famous singer by the time you’re 25 isn’t going to happen if you’re going to school, practicing intermittently, and too scared to sing on stage. You’ve got to do the work now that will pay off later. The good part? That means making mistakes. Yes, make them! Try new things, push yourself, and learn to strengthen your skills.
Take Stock of Your Successes
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at accepting compliments on my work. I want them, sure, but I’m also my own worst critic and quick to downgrade the successes I’ve had. One of the best things I ever did when I first started blogging was to write down three things I had learned or accomplished each day. It was too easy to focus on what others were achieving and pressuring myself that I wasn’t good enough. By recording my learning moments and accomplishments along the way, I changed my focus to how much I was growing and that I was headed in the right direction, even if I wasn’t getting there as fast as I wanted to. I was still making progress, still moving forward. Don’t be your worst critic, be your best advocate.
Life is and always will be messy.
The good news is we have the power to shape our perspective on it. We don’t get to choose when setbacks come or how they’ll hit us. We don’t get to choose what society says about our generation. But we have a choice in how we respond. And with any luck, and a lot of time, all the junk we go through will just be “that period that shall not be named” and we will be bigger badasses for it.
Hey Millenials! You’re awesome!
I can’t believe it’s been a week since show night already. I was working on the La Crosse production of Listen to Your Mother for six months. How can it be over already?
If you haven’t seen the bombardment of social media posts I’ve been doing about Listen To Your Mother (
instead of blogging regularly), then you probably aren’t following me on social media, and you should because I like you.
Listen To Your Mother is a live, storytelling event that gives motherhood a microphone. The last shows have taken the stage, making the collection of 500 some unique, truth-telling stories, take place across 41 cities in North America.
That’s pretty cool.
It has taken me awhile to fully process what this show and its aftermath have meant to me. I’m still exhausted! But in the best possible way. Kind emails and handwritten notes are still coming in thanking our team for a beautiful, magical night of storytelling, for voices being heard and diversity represented. For making them laugh – so many laughs. And also for the tears.
So many inspired souls have said they’re going to audition next year!
And final numbers are in, so I cut the donation check for YWCA La Crosse today!!!
Here’s what I can sum up for you.
3 Lessons Learned From the Listen To Your Mother Show
1. Attitude is Everything
When I first had the itch to apply and bring LTYM to my city, I had an entirely different production team and charity lined up. I also had a different job. When things went from bad to worse at that job (sometime I’ll tell you about it), no one was willing to put in the work anymore. But I KNEW this show could be amazing. I KNEW there were stories out there that needed to be told.
So, I did it myself.
I lined up a new production team, one that believed in the power of story like I did. And I found a new charity, one that said yes instantly and supported me from staff to director to board member. And I wrote up an application I hoped would make it really, really hard for the national team to say no to.
Channeling my energy into something that was positive and making a difference in the community saved me. Working on this show encouraged me to make big changes in my life because we all deserve to feel heard and appreciated and energized.
2. My Husband is Proud of Me
Let me tell you the ways my husband supported me. And, I’m warning you in advance, I’m going to get mushy about this.
In the beginning, it was advice on production stuff – venues to look at, performance things to think about. It helps he’s a musician and very familiar with locations. Then it was social media shares with the obligatory “Here’s this thing my wife is doing”.
Next he went and offered to play live, acoustic music in the lobby for show day! Because he saw how hard I was working and wanted to support me in the best way he knew how, he helped make our debut show a little more special – a little more like a fancy night out on the town.
But folks, what really made me tear up and get “the feels” so hard was his response to the show. You see, I didn’t come home from rehearsals and talk about the show. I probably mentioned how many things I had to do for the show (more than once), but I didn’t tell anyone about the stories we shared. That magic and trust needed to be saved for show night. So, my hubs was that guy who got roped into attending because his wife was the one running it. Storytelling is not exactly “his thing.”
The reason I know the LTYM show is a gamechanger of a production is because it gets people talking. And my husband started talking and sharing his thoughts with me about the show and the stories he heard. And not just that night, but all week long.
My husband is not a big talker. He does not often share his emotions. Not many guys do. But after watching the show, my husband told me he saw me making a difference. He called me a rockstar. He had thoughtful, personal things to say about the show’s stories. He said he was motivated to make changes in his life. And he told me he was proud of me.
*wipes eyes, blows nose*
I told you, this one gave me ALL THE FEELS. I am so grateful for his support.
3. Perspective: Your Girlfriends’ Gonna Give It To Ya
When you work with talented people, you up your game. When you collaborate with them, you make lifelong friends.
I am eternally grateful for the amazingly cohesive production team that agreed to work with me without fully knowing how much work it would, in fact, be. I admired these women before the show production started, I have deep respect and awe for them now.
From start to finish, this group came in fully understanding the special-ness of a LTYM show. They appreciated and honored every story we heard in auditions, they put in countless hours of time away from their own families to work on the show and get to know our cast. They found local sponsors, made food for the cast, and helped make this show come alive.
We also had the help of our national LTYM team. All of whom are amazing mentors who know HOW TO RUN A SHOW that stretches its performances across a continent!
When little things seemed big or something made me worry, these women had my back. They responded quickly and succinctly and put everything in its place. They believed in me and one another. They support the kind of world I want to live in. I’m so proud to work beside them.
So, when next year Mother’s Day rolls around, run don’t walk to the nearest Listen To Your Mother show near you. Apply to bring it to your city. Audition. Get inspired. This show changes lives.
This past weekend I headed to Madison, WI for the university’s continuing studies program, Weekend With Your Novel.
If you’ve never attended one of the Madison writing programs, I highly recommend them. Their spring conference is great for writers of all stages and offers tracks on structure, revision, marketing, and publishing. In addition, agent pitches and panels abound.
If you’re up for more of a retreat that’s been called a “spa for writers” check out their Write by the Lake weeklong summer class. It was crucial to me and the plotting of my book this summer.
This was my first attendance at Weekend With Your Novel, a one and a half day workshop weekend devoted to the writing process. It largely consisted of honing in your craft and offering longer classes to dissect examples and ask questions of the instructor. It provided even more clarity to my book structure and characters. I loved it.
Here are a few of my favorite takeaways.
3 Can’t Miss Tips from Weekend With Your Novel
1. Aim High
I was most excited for a class on publishing excerpts of your work while writing your book, which was taught by UW-Madison professor and author Christopher Chambers. His first piece of advice was “aim high.”
If you are writing to pursue publication, then make publication goals for yourself. Where do you want to see your work? Of course you should be realistic, but dream big. The worst that can happen is they don’t publish you, but you’ll never know unless you try.
2. Redefine Failure
Simply put, failure is “something that happens, and it’s good for you,” said lunch keynote, Kathy Steffen.
Sharing one of the most frustrating failures I can imagine, Kathy talked about an online app project she’d written over 100,000 words for, only to have the app fizzle out. Imagine spending that much time and energy on something and then find out it wasn’t going to work. Ugh!
But Kathy also said you should give yourself a thousand second chances. Quit and come back the next day if you need to.
3. Get a Solid Structure
Where Write by the Lake helped me figure out my ending and timeline, Christine DeSmet‘s class on structure helped me figure out how I would plan the overall layout and what I needed to fill in gaps.
One of her tips: Keep your logline and central question at the forefront. Each scene should have them included. If it helps, have them typed at the beginning of each chapter. (You can always take them out later when submitting.)
Another tip? If you need help creating tension or figuring out what the next scene is, make a list. What are the details you want in the scene? Making a list of what stories you want in the chapter, details you want to include, or elements of danger or trouble that will occur will help trigger your brainstorming and boost tension.
Those were my favorite tips from the weekend. What are your most helpful tips for staying motivated and improving your writing?
Any NaNo folks out there having fun,
or in need of a pep talk? 😉
Happy November everyone!
Today I’m so excited to say that I’m guest posting at the fabulous Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Blog today!
Ingrid blogs about creativity and mindfulness, and going after your dreams. She is a spiritual globetrotter who knows it’s never too late to learn a lesson.
Ingrid asked me to share my story about how I made the bold decision to quit my job in retail management with NO BACKUP PLAN!
This time of year, with holidays looming ahead, can be so stressful. (I know that better than most.) I think this post is timely for all of us to remember to take risks, stay positive, and believe in ourselves.
I hope you’ll hang out with us today! CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE POST PLEASE. 🙂
TEASER ~ Living Without a Backup Plan
“For six years I worked in retail for a large department store. It’s identity shall not be named in order to protect the damned. I started working there in college, and after graduation, I freaked about becoming an “adult.” So I took a full time position at the store and bragged to my dad that I finally had health insurance.
I was good at my job. I just wasn’t happy.”
See you at Ingrid’s place!
Tell us about your dreams and big plans.
I recently started reading Sarah Silverman’s memoir, The Bedwetter.
It’s pretty amazing.
I had never read any books written by stand up comics before. I’ve read a ton of humor authors, including finally Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck – so people can stop shaming me about never having read any Nora Ephron. Challenge accepted.
I love listening to Sarah’s story. She’s brutally honest about the things she dealt with as a kid and how they shaped her sense of humor. True to the title, Sarah was, in fact, a bedwetter long into elementary school. She saw numerous doctors and spent years with a hypnotist, but still had to wait it out until she, and mostly her bladder, grew.
As a young comic, Sarah took risks. She’s known for telling vulgar jokes that often involve bowel movements or racism. But she’s also a hard working comedian. She spent hours at open mic nights whether she was slated to go on or not, just on the off chance someone else didn’t show and she could step in. She worked in comedy clubs, where she met some of her heroes and was able to network and be inspired.
And when she did make it big, she didn’t lose her childish enthusiasm for the work she gets to do. She reminds her peers and staff that they get to be a part of something creative.
Sarah inspired me to enjoy some stand up comedy this weekend. Here are some of my favorite bits to help kick off your monday!
Early Sarah Silverman Stand-up:
Maria Bamford on Coworker Feuds
The Fabulous Tig Notaro (who I get to see speak at BlogHer!!!) – No Moleste!
Sneak Peek from Jim Gaffigan’s new show, Obsessed – Seafood
Eddie Gossling – I Am Not a Rocket Scientist
and finally…my college friend, Joann Schinderle, who is doing in stand-up in Portland, OR!
What made you laugh this weekend?
Last month was my blog anniversary. I started blogging 3 years ago on a dare. I had just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I was talking about it with my boyfriend and how I wanted to start writing again when he dared me to…
“Start a blog.”
So I did.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
1. The Blogosphere Rocks and Comments are Verbal Gold
I am forever grateful to those first few people who started commenting on my blog, and even more so to the ones still around today. I’ve been given amazing opportunity to connect with other bloggers/writers on various projects and it’s always rewarding. Groups like the WANAs, ROW80, and the Life List Club have all helped me push forward with not just my writing goals, but personal goals as well.
When I made the difficult decision to quit my job, without a back up plan, my blog friends supported me and some even contacted me with potential job leads. They didn’t have to do that, and that’s why it meant the world. When I’ve shared vulnerable posts about writing slumps, not going back to school, and heck – shitting my pants! – you’ve stuck by me and your comments keep me going. Thank you!
2. Trust Your Gut
My blog has transformed many times over the years. And so has my writing. The first book I started, and consequently restarted and rewrote 10+ times, was a paranormal YA!
Noooo, there were not vampires in it. (Although, I think it would be fine if there were!)
I always wanted to write a comical memoir, but I let people or situations get in the way. When I made it a priority to “tell my story” I had the first draft written in 4 months time. I’ve never been as far in the writing process or felt like I was on the right track as I do now.
3. Change is inevitable.
Similar to the previous lesson, change is inevitable. If I stopped moving forward just because I worried about how a topic or change on my blog would go over, I probably wouldn’t be celebrating a blog anniversary right now. Allowing my blog to grow with me as I learn and reflect, benefits not just me, but my readers as well.
Thank you everyone for reading!
And for joining me on my journey to make pathetic look cool. 😀
What’s a life lesson that’s been on your mind lately?
Tune in Monday to join me and my guest, Amber West, discussing cats vs. dogs, parenting advice, what to watch on television, and her thriller with a twist – The Ruth Valley Missing!
I’m fresh off of WANAcon this weekend which was AMAZING! Seriously, if you get a chance to go (and it’s all online, so there’s no reason not to) you should go!
Rumor has it there’ll be another one in February…
WANAcon is an online writers conference hosted by social media guru and writer shepherd, Kristen Lamb. WANA stands for We Are Not Alone, which is the title of her first book. Big thanks to Kristen and her partners in crime – Jay at Tech Surgeons and Jami Gold – for helping host WANAcon this month.
The conference had a mixture of craft and business classes for writers with a slew of awesome presenters. One class alone made me sign up.
Several months ago I made the drastic decision to quit my job in sales management with the intent of getting my Master’s Degree in writing.
Like a good little student, I researched schools and programs, made lists of extracurricular writing opportunities, and talked to people who had completed the programs.
Then May rolled around and I jetted off to the Dallas/Fort Worth Writers Conference. Over lunch one day, with several of the WANA tribe, we were talking about our current writing plans. In my best puffed-up, “I’m not having a quarter life crisis AT ALL!” voice I shared my brilliant plan of going back to school and getting the education I needed to move forward. *hands on hips, matter of fact-style*
And then my friend, Rachel Funk Heller, asked me a question…
Why do you want to pay all that money for a glorified critique group?
I was stunned.
You mean, you don’t think my plan is brilliant??!
Note: This post is not a bashing of academia. I would never tell someone not to pursue their graduate degree if that was important to them. This post is my story about MY decision to pursue a different path on my road to publication. If you’re considering going back to school, then research it! Get all the information you can before making your decision because it matters.
Rachel’s point to me was that everything I had stated I needed help with was available…in our WANA community…for a lot less than that $40,000/year tuition I was looking at. She pointed out what’s available to learn at conferences and who to get in touch with online.
She was right.
All I want to do is write a book. I don’t need a Master’s Degree to do that.
If my goals had been to teach writing in a college environment or to open my own publishing house someday, then YES, a Master’s Degree would be necessary. To write a book? It’s just one path of many.
Making an Action Plan
Back from DFWcon, unemployed, and desperately wanting everyone to believe I’d made the right choice, I put together my action plan.
That was step number one. And in a little over 3 months, I completed the first draft of my book.
I found support all around me. I got a writing partner, one that I knew and shared a work ethic with *Hi Gene!*, I used social media to boost my word counts, and I joined a local writers group to get feedback on my work.
Now, I read books on craft. I devour books in my genre to get a sense of pacing and voice. I read through Writer’s Digest and blogs about writing.
A bonus to not paying tuition money – I have money to attend conferences! It’s my plan to attend more writing conferences this next year.
Balance…As Much As Possible
In my past job I worked 50-60 hour work weeks where I was on my feet presenting “happy manager” face all day long. When I got home, I was exhausted! I wanted to write, but I never had energy to get far.
My unemployment, though incredibly difficult on my budget and my relationship, was a gift. It was time. Time to finish my book. And not having a paycheck was a damn big motivator to plant my butt in the chair and get that page count up, let me tell ya! Little things like Crystal Light packets became a huge treat when I got my writing done.
Before I was offered “Awesome Job,” I accepted “Get’s Me a Paycheck Job.” It was a drastic pay cut, where I was overqualified, and still putting in more hours than I asked for.
The Regional Manager literally spent half a day’s training discussing “The Importance of Using a Planner.”
It was another push. Take the job that is less stressful, and puts food on your table, and GET THAT WRITING DONE!
In order for that to happen, I had to let go of my pride and stop worrying what people would think of me.
Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA
Is that not the coolest sounding program ever?!
Gabriela Pereira is the instigator behind Do It Yourself – Master’s Program for Writers! She has an MFA herself because she wanted to be a creditable individual that can teach Master’s level education to others having experienced the programs first hand.
After sitting through her presentation on the core areas of MFA programs, I was psyched to realize that I was already doing 75% of them! Adding in a few other elements and getting tips from Gabriela’s program will be a great resource to build my skills in the rest!
Check out her website DIY MFA: Tools and Techniques for the Serious Writer
She even offers a FREE DIY starter kit with over 30 pages of techniques and tips, so I encourage you to get more info if this interests you!
I’m grateful that Rachel took the time to ask me my true goals in life. I would much rather spend my hard earned money traveling across the country to network at writers conferences than rack up more debt in student loans that may or may not get me any closer to publication than I am now.
I realize that I was only able to make that decision after years of dealing with the things I knew I didn’t want.
I hope my blog post helps at least ONE person out there make a drastic change in their lives for the better. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve made these changes a lot sooner.
I’ve read the books written by happiness experts and life coaches and the problem with those books is they gloss over the gritty parts. They quit their jobs like it’s no big deal while at the same time start a collection and go shopping for trends! Most of us cannot do that. I couldn’t do that!
It was a learning process the whole way. But ultimately, a good one.
If anyone wants more details or you’re looking for a listener who’s been there, please reach out to me! I’m more than happy to chat with you all in the comments, message me on Facebook, or send me an email (jessi(dot)witkins(at)gmail(dot)com)! You can vent to me in 140 characters or less on Twitter!
Knowing you have choices is an incredible empowerment, and you deserve that!
What were the tough decisions that you struggled with? What helped you survive?
It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier! Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us! Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring. Take it away, Kirsten!
Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.
The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.
So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?
There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.
The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.
So how does it work?
Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?
Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?
We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?
And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.
No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.
Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective. Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us. I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible. You’re right, that is beautiful!
See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!
*This post was originally published through the Life List Club Blog on April 27, 2012. Thought it was time for another discussion.
I was driving home one night listening to my guilty pleasure, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the topic for the evening really stunned me. The radio host, Joy Cardin, was speaking with Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development especially twentysomethings.
Dr. Jay is the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Dr. Jay works as an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia and keeps a private practice as well. Interacting with so many college students and recent graduates, she noticed the hits and misses my generation was making time and time again.
When asked why she wrote the book, Dr. Jay said she’s trying to make an impact on the 50 million twentysomethings who are looking for guidance in their lives while still being treated like an adult.
So why are the twenties so defining?
- 80% of life’s most defining moments take place before the age of 35.
- 70% of lifetime wage growth happens in the first 10 years of a career.
- More than half of us are married or living with our longterm partners.
- Our fertility rates peak in our twenties.
- And our brains do their last growth spurt in our twenties.
If you had the same reaction I did, you’re probably thinking, “Sweet God, it’s all over! I may as well start digging my grave, drop down in it, along with my unfinished book, my birth control pills, and any other unfulfilled dreams while we’re funeralizing!”
Fear not! Dr. Jay says Never Give Up.
She does emphasize that my generation is in the midst of some crucial crossroads and the decisions we make now CAN AND DO impact the rest of our lives.
She talks about “identity capital” which she defines as the collateral you build up so when you go in for an interview the person looks at your resume and says “Oh that’s interesting, tell me more about that!” We know we’re in an economic crisis right now. The job market is not ideal. The Veteran Generation is staying employed longer in need of more stability, and yet year after year more college graduates are flooding the market. We’ve got all four generations competing and cohabiting the workforce. Ages 20 – 70+.
Many of us twentysomethings opted for an alternative route. I’m sure all of you know someone who decided to take time off, travel the world, date around, etc. Dr. Jay’s concern with some of these routes is that for those individuals they’re having a harder time trying to get back on track whether it’s the job field or family planning. Employers start to look at your resume and think “hmm, you really haven’t done too much” and the person that stands out is the twentysomething who jumped right in and planned their career path just like an adult, setting goals or achieving higher degrees, whatever it might be.
In regards to family planning, she wants twentysomethings to be aware of fertility information. Women’s fertility peaks at 28. What she tends to hear from the twentysomethings she counsels, is so many of them spend time in cohabitation with a partner or spouse for 4-5 years before they realize that maybe that relationship should have only lasted a year.
Now, I will totally say that family planning is a personal choice! And Dr. Jay agreed. What she wants is for us to have the facts about fertility so we are thoughtful in planning who our partners are as well as when we want to start having children because the health risks are increased the later into the 30′s you are.
That being said, I may have ran in from the car, found Joe, and screamed something like, “We have to start having babies now, my fertility is peaking!!! What are we doing with our lives??!”
So then he said, “You’re not allowed to listen to the radio anymore…”
Our generation is at its peak for adaptation. If there is something you are unhappy about in life, or you’re wanting to make changes, then do it! We have the capability to transform and rise to the occasion.
When I graduated from college, I started having anxiety attacks. I panicked about “what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!” I fell in suit and took the first full time job that came my way. I worked all the time, and was too exhausted to pursue my writing or hang out with friends. You know what, I got really sad and really bored real fast! It’s been an ongoing process to change. While I’ve done well for myself career-wise, I quickly learned that what makes me happy is writing and travel, and if I was going to get that back in my life that meant change!
So, three years ago I started blogging! And I met amazing writers and readers online! Through them, I got involved with some writing contests and critique groups. I also saved up my money and used my vacation time to attend writing conferences and travel around the world.
There is hope! And it’s never too late! All of us can define the decade we’re living in!
So what are you waiting for?! What’s on your life list?
What do you think about Dr. Jay’s theory and your 20′s being the Defining Decade? Are you currently in your 20′s? Would you do anything differently if you could go back? What advice do you have for a new adult in their 20’s, or for parents raising a 20-somthing?