Why Your Twenties Matter And How To Let Go Of Should

your twenties matter


Feb. 9 2017, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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I am a self-help junkie and an avid reader. During my senior year of college, I read a book about millennials. This was not your typical parental guidance book making claims of our entitlement issues, our laziness, or instant gratifyingly seeking habitual ways, but in essence a struggling twentysomething’s bible.

The book was called The Defining Decade: Why your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay, Ph.D., has changed my entire twenty-something perspective.

As that 24-year-old college undergraduate, visualizing myself walking across the stage in the spring, I felt intimidated and unsure of what the real world would be like. I literally had no clue. However, the world around me seemed to have a clear idea of what “people my age” were like. Today, the world continues to place those same labels on us, “Post-Graduate,” “Millennial,” “Twenty-Something,” “Entitled,” “Lazy,” and even, “Narcissistic.”

What I know for sure is many of us are willing to do the work and want to live out our dreams, we’re just unsure where to start.

Dr. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist claiming that us, twentysomething’s are caught up in the hype, under a false belief that 30 is the new 20. I was guilty of this before I read the book, believing that nothing I do in my twenties will matter. Later in her book however, Dr. Meg Jay argues everything we do during this decade in life will matter. She doesn’t quite give us a road map of what we should do to make it worthwhile, but she persuades us to make the most of our twenties now! Through learning from our experiences and life choices, she assures us that we have the potential to live our best lives by treating our present moments as defining moments.

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Have You Ever Asked Yourself?

Who am I and who will I be?

What is real love?

Will I ever be good enough?

I have. I’ve doubted myself in love, life, and at work. I’ve struggled with who I am and who I want to be. So many times I wonder will I ever be good enough to land my dream job? Or find my soul mate? What should I do with my life? If you’ve asked yourself these questions or if you are interested in living up to your own actual potential, you should read The Defining Decade.

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As an extremely relatable three-part book broken into sections of Work, Love. and The Brain and the Body; each section offers fair insight through years of interactions with her clients. Dr. Meg Jay shares solutions to the common trends and concerns based on former conversations with past 20-something-year-old clients. Being a twentysomething is scary, especially during this decade, as we find out how inexperienced we are in dating, life, and at work. Our insecurities cloud our judgments, as we’re not sure what expectations are ideal, surreal or even achievable.

On Unlocking Your Potential

“Each person has an inherent urge to grow toward his or her potential, much in the way an acorn becomes a tree. But because we all aren’t acorns and won’t all be oaks, there’s bound to be confusion about what exactly growing toward our potential means. Some twentysomethings dream too small, not understanding that their twentysomething choices matter and are, in fact, shaping the years ahead. Others dream too big, fueled more by fantasies about limitless possibilities than experience. Part of realizing our potential is recognizing how our particular gifts and limitations fit with the world around us. We realize where our authentic potential actually lies.”

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Everyone has the potential to be their best self, but sometimes we have to take the time to figure out what our gifts and skills are to better understand our authentic self. It’s time to unlock our potential. Reading this book has supercharged my mentality enabling me to channel my actual potential versus what I think I should be doing with my potential. I’ve recognized my strengths and now understand how to be more proactive in chasing my dreams. Instead of trying to live up to the “hype” of what other’s think millennials should be; Dr. Meg Jay explains twentysomethings are stuck in what she calls, “The Search for Glory and The Tyranny of Should.”

On Letting Go of Should

“Shoulds can masquerade as high standards or lofty goals, but they are not the same. Goals direct us from the inside. But shoulds are paralyzing judgments from the outside. Goals feel like authentic dreams while shoulds feel like oppressive obligations. Shoulds set up a false dichotomy between either meeting an ideal and being a failure. Between perfection and settling. The tyranny of the should even pit us against our best interest.”

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Don’t believe the hype. Shoulds insinuate we are not what we actually are, that we should be something else or something better than ourselves; that we are not living up to our potential or practicing our particular gifts. As millennials, I suggest we let go of the word, “should.” Instead of using should to measure how adequately you’re handling life, as a determination of succeeding or settling, we simply must be present in each moment. Let’s use life lessons as our defining moments.

How Do You Define Yourself?

Ask yourself, what are my unique skills, experiences, and values? What makes me different? What do I like? What makes me happy? This is how you can understand what your interests are to better hone your skills or particular gifts.

Our twenties define who and what we become. We don’t have to wait until our thirties, forties, or fifties even though society says we should. Please do not disregard your own experiences or lacks thereof based on what you think you should be doing and start making the most of them now! We can’t keep trying to measure ourselves up to should, would, or could. In life, we simply must make the most of our twenties now by unlocking our actual potential and letting go of should.

Remember, that every day of your life matters. Our twenties shouldn’t be full of regrets or redoes, instead make the choice to set your visions and goals. Be present in moments because they matter. Showing up to work matters, you matter, and everything you do now will matter later so don’t wait!

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