A Reflection of Why Twenties Matters: The Defining Decade Book Review

“The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now” is a book written by a clinical psychologist, Meg Jay, Ph.D. This book mainly talks about coaching and listening to her patients, who aged twentysomething. Most young people who are about to transform from teen to adult seemingly have difficulties determining what they want and what they will do. It is like an intersection where they need to reflect on themselves. Some have successfully chosen the way, while others are lost. Instead of crossing, they are wandering off somewhere else afar from the goal set. 

Meg Jay chaperoned these 20s to get a better life, a better career, and a lover. So, it is more like a life guide to be the best version of ourselves based on cases study. Why do the 20s need assistance? Not necessarily, but people with twentysomething tend to experience the second spurt growth. In this stage, the brain produces far more neurons for the second time, like how has happened to a growing toddler at 18 months old. It usually caused confusion in determining life choices.


Well, this book is quite helpful for me as I currently have an obsession with self-development thingy. It encourages me to maximize my potential during my 20s and be serious with life because what I do today is interrelated with my future. In the first chapter, she mentioned twentysomething needs to have identity capital, which refers to collecting personal assets.

“Identity capitals are the investment in ourselves, things we do well enough or long enough, that they become a part of who we are”

One of the most kicking points in this book is when the author implies that tomorrow’s career is according to what we do today. We never become something we don’t do. This actually slaps me hard in the face. I want to be a writer. I have to work myself off training my word crafting ability, reading a lot, and honing the grammar and structure of each type of writings.

The second chapter about weak ties is also mind-blowing for me. Weak links are connections from people we know, or we barely know, like a friend of friends who notice our skills specificity. Then become an opening opportunity to earn a future job. This happens to me quite often, as I have a side-hustle as a translator. My new customers mainly recognize me from the previous one. But of course, burning candles at both ends is not enough. Resilience and consistency play a role in success. To master a specific subject, being focus on at least 10,000 hours is needed. I might have to deal with writing blocks, reading slumps, and so forth along the way, but I wish it won’t affect my aspiration, haha; I hope so.

Another part that I like most is a session with a hardworking woman under “The Devil Wears Prada” kinda boss. She feels overwhelmed with sudden nagging or loud yelling when her boss is stuck somewhere or any irritations caused by small things. This type of boss makes her confidence drops. But Meg Jay suggests how to boost it up again through small self-appreciation, which is essential to be confident in facing challenges, including dealing with mistakes. This leads to a discussion about fixed mindset vs. growth mindset; in a fixed mindset, people will just give up on complicated challenges and extreme change instead of making adjustments. On the other hand, people will try to survive, having confidence that any problem can be solved in growth mindset skillset. Despite a mistake that may sting, they will learn about it and make sure it won’t happen ever again.

One more exciting part of this book is a discussion on cohabitation, which portrays a rising number among the 20s in the US. She mentions this habit is not favorable for a relationship because it could be perceived as an investment one to another. This quite surprising for me because I think people now tend to normalize this even in Asia. Suppose they don’t feel quite compatible or unable to deal with conflict along the way. In that case, these couples will likely carry heavyweight to separate or wind up divorced later when they get married.

Let’s move smoothly on what I don’t like about this book. There is something odd about the opinion the girl with the devil wears Prada’s typical boss. That nasty behavior seems to be generalized. She encourages Danielle—the name of the girl, to survive to prove durability instead of resigning. However, I think everyone has different mental agility, and I believe that she can file a resignation if she can’t take it anymore. A yearly bonus will not cure deteriorating mental health; if so, the cost of treatments is not worth because it takes long process and time consuming—just my two cents.

Moreover, the in-topic about marriage tends to push women to get married and have babies before 35. From the story case given and the tone in advising fertility sounds a bit patronizing. While actually, people have the power to determine what they want and what they don’t. Maybe that is why in Goodreads, this book received negative comments and was refuted by women who live like how she mentions condescendingly. But for me personally, I could learn a lot from this insightful book!

Rating: 3,9 out of 5 ⭐

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