You may have heard that, since people are living longer, and marrying, having kids, and establishing their careers later in life, 30 is the new 20. But, according to pyschologist Meg Jay, who “specializes” in 20-somethings, 30 is just 30. It is most definitely NOT the new 20. So, 30 year-olds who are unmarried….be afraid… be very afraid.
Jay recently gave a talk at TED–the nonprofit dedicated to “ideas worth spreading,” so brilliantly satirized by the Onion–which I listened to so you don’t have to. I will now present the top 10 highlights of this speech, my reaction as a member of the demographic (I’m 31) thoroughly shat upon by its deliverer, and finally, my reaction in GIF form.
#1. Jay recalls her first psychotherapy client, Alex, aged 26. Alex walked into Jay’s office wearing a “slouchy top” and “kicked off her flats.” Red flags numbers one and two. Responsible 20-somethings wear fitted tops and keep their shoes on.
#2.Alex wanted to talk about guy problems. Jay was so relieved: “My classmate got an arsonist and my first client wanted to talk about boys. This, I thought, I could handle. But I didn’t handle it.” Just what didn’t Jay handle? You’ll have to read on.
#3. Jay ominously continued: “’30′s the new 20,’ Alex would say. And as far as I could tell, she was right. Work happened later, marriage happened later, kids happened later, even death happened later. 20-somethings like Alex and I had nothing but time. But my supervisor pushed me to push Alex about her love life. I pushed back: I said, ‘Sure, she’s dating down, she’s sleeping with a knuckle head. But it’s not like she’s gonna marry the guy.’ And then my supervisor said, ‘not yet. But she might marry the next one. Besides, the best time to work on Alex’s marriage is before she has one.’ That’s what psychologists call an ah-ha moment, that was the moment I realized, 30′s not the new 20. Yes, people settle down later than they used to, but that didn’t make Alex’s 20s a developmental down time, that made Alex’s 20s a developmental sweet spot and we were sitting their blowing it.”
Shouldn’t the ah-ah moment have been “I’m not a very good therapist.” Shouldn’t you discourage your client from “dating down” and “sleeping with knuckle heads” regardless of his or her age? And who blows a “developmental sweet spot”? That would have been my ah-ha moment.