Stop trying to make me freak out, TEDTalks

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There is a lot of valid advice in this video about not wasting your 20’s. Clinical psychologist Meg Jay, who specializes in twentysomethings, says the decade is a ‘developmental sweet spot’ when you should be taking advantage of opportunities to invest in yourself through work, education and fruitful relationships, so when you hit your 30’s you’re ready for that big career move or settling down with a partner.

That being said, the video is a bit alarmist, especially if you’re nearing the end of your 20’s or past it. With so many people experiencing quarter-life crises and worrying about lagging behind other people/society’s standards in terms of personal and professional development, the common reaction to this video is probably: Oh no, I think I’ve wasted my 20’s.

Just to mitigate the inevitable panic of anyone over the age of, say, 27 or so: It may feel like we’ve wasted our 20’s now, but we probably haven’t. Whatever experiences and work you’ve accumulated since turning 20 may seem aimless or unproductive now, but it’s all investment in yourself. Which is Jay’s point.

“I’m not discounting twentysomething exploration here,” she says. “I’m discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count. Which, by the way, isn’t exploration. That’s procrastination.”

So before you (or I) jump to the conclusion that we’ve wasted our 20’s because that’s what our sad inner voices are telling us, let’s consider the possibility that we’ve done exactly what she’s advising in this talk. Then we can pass along this sage advice to a new twentysomething as someone who’s been there and done that, and not as a cautionary tale.

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